The football club NK Uljanik from which the club originates was founded in 1948. In 1961, it joined with another local club, NK Pula, to form NK Istra. For this reason, 1961 is occasionally considered as the club's founding year. The greatest club success was in the 2002–2003 season when they finished runners-up in the Croatian Cup, losing to Hajduk Split 4–1 on aggregate. In the 2004–05 season, the club changed its name into NK Pula 1856, because the year 1856 was the year that the Austro-Hungarian Empire made Pula the port of its arsenal and the shipyard Uljanik was opened. Also in the same year, in competed in the Prva Liga for the first time. In 2005, it was renamed again to NK Pula Staro Češko due to a sponsorship contract with the brewery Daruvarska pivovara (Staro Češko is a beer brand). Just one year later, the name was once again changed, this time to NK Pula. Again, just a year later in summer 2007, the name was changed for the fifth time in as many years, to NK Istra 1961. The change of name came after an ultimatum from the local fans Demons who said the club would have their support only if the club changed its name and club colours to the traditional city colours (yellow and green).
Its crest features the city's Roman Arena in Pula, as well as the old team crest.
Pula play their home matches at the recently renovated Stadion Aldo Drosina, which has a capacity of approximately 10,000 spectators.
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