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Pompeii Italy, Ten must visit sites

Updated on July 27, 2010
Pompeii Eruption
Pompeii Eruption

The Wonders of a Pompeii Tour

Those thinking about a Pompeii tour or taking in the nearby sites of Versuvius and Herculaneum should think seriously about planning their trip. This 2,000-year-old, living time capsule and its environs offer so much to see and do you could easily spend a week exploring Pompeii and still not see it all.

Pompeii is the perfect preservation of a vibrant, opulent Roman town in 79 AD, seventeen years before the region had been shook by earthquakes and they were still in the process of repairing the damage, when on the fateful day Versuvius erupted. Pompeii on the edge of the Bay of Naples represents a moment in time, captured in all its glory and tragic horror. The riches and elegance of the villas, the bars, restaurants, temples and baths are all frozen in time.

Top Ten Pompeii Sites

1) Amphitheatre – This impressive construction was built in 70 BC. The arena is the first stone build amphitheatre in existence, it held 20,000 supports and even by modern standards the stadium is an excellent example of crowd management. Next-door is the large area of the Gladiator school with its training facilities and large swimming pool.

2) Via dell’Abbondanza the main street is the perfect example of a busy Roman high street, complete with shop fronts, bars, laundrettes, and bakers. The sunken road is covered in cobbles cut deep with the grooves from carts and punctuated with stepping stone level crossings; there are also remains of the lead piping responsible for taking water to the many public fountains situated around the town.

3) Café – Thermopolium, the forerunner of the modern restaurant and café. The storefront opened out onto the street so people could buy food as they travelled to work from the large counter that featured earthenware jars full of snacks. Around the back there was a restaurant area where customers could eat in the reclined style popularised by the Greeks.

Via dell'Abondanza
Via dell'Abondanza
Pompeii Forum
Pompeii Forum
Fresco of The Three Graces
Fresco of The Three Graces
Forum Bath House
Forum Bath House
Pompeii birdseye view
Pompeii birdseye view

4) The House of Vetti – A richly decorated house that features gardens that have been restored to their former glory. These would have featured fountains, ponds and vast areas of plants, herbs and trees that displayed the owner’s wealth. The walls have are decorated with brightly coloured frescos, depicting mythical scenes patterned borders.

5) The House of the Faun – An elegant villa, named after the bronze statue discovered in the gardens. This mansion is full of excellent frescoes covering its walls, while the floors are resplendent with patterned tiles.

6) Forum Bath house one of two examples of Roman baths at Pompeii. The Forum baths have separated male and female baths with cold, tepid and hot rooms, a gymnasium and open-air garden for relaxing in. 

7) The Lupanare, the Pompeii den of iniquity. Here ladies of the night (and presumably day) would entertain their clients in small cubicles. The walls are covered with erotic frescoes that expose the sexual underbelly of Pompeii.

8) Forum – The centre of religious, commercial and judicial life in Pompeii. This is the large open space around which are a number of the towns temples, there is the Macellum, the open air market where meat and fresh vegetables were sold and the Basilica which was the equivalent of the courthouse and the municipal offices.

9) Theatre – Could hold an audience of 5,000. This open aired space was used to perform plays and extravaganzas of the age, large canvas covers could be drawn across the opening to shade the audience from the suns glare. While the smaller roofed theatre next door could hold 1,000 spectators and was for more intimate poetry readings and small plays.

10) Garden of the Fugitives – Unearthed in 1961, archaeologists found the remains of thirteen people, frozen in time, huddled together as they desperately attempted to withstand the choking fumes and ash from the eruption. It had discovered that by pouring plaster into voids in the earth they could make casts of the things within.

Exploring Pompeii

The beauty of Pompeii is that the whole society is preserved, normally you expect to find the classical temples, plush villas, and the Roman forts and amphitheatres but here there are examples from all sectors of society. At the time of its destruction, Pompeii was home to over 20,000 people and still over a third of the site remains to be excavated. The massive archaeological discoveries to date have thrown much light on the lives of the Roman residents already but still more remains to be uncovered.

Along with exploring the ruins themselves, it is well worth investigating the rich heritage found at Herculaneum the neighbouring town that was destroyed at the same time as Pompeii. Even today Versuvius still exudes an awesome power and presence and from the top of the volcano you can take in the wonderful views of the Campania landscape. While the museum of Naples contains many salvaged and rescued pieces from Pompeii and Herculaneum and should definitely be part of your Pompeii tour. 

Pompeii Amphitheatre
Pompeii Amphitheatre

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    • Squidmom profile image

      Squidmom 7 years ago from Texas

      Pompeii has always been on my list of places that I must see in my lifetime-but I put the idea of it in my back pocket since becoming a "grown up" -your hub restirred my interest in it, thanks.

    • knell63 profile image

      knell63 7 years ago from Umbria, Italy

      Thank you Amez, if you get the chance to see Pompeii it's really worth the effort.

      Your right DeG. The most interesting things are the everyday objects and surprises you come across. There is just so much to see, a day doesn't do it justice.

    • Amez profile image

      Amez 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      A wonderful Hub, My whole family just was amazed to what they saw, and realize in such brief period of time. One neighbor actually said , I want to go work their to uncover the other parts of thwe city. We might even consider going there our next vacation.If we can afford it! all those pictures, especially the one of the volcano and the city was just great to see, while reading the history you had gathered.

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 7 years ago from UK

      Besides the more obvious, I love the actual streets themselves, worn down by the wheels of the carts! That is so human!

    • knell63 profile image

      knell63 7 years ago from Umbria, Italy

      Thanks both, I agree CMH, have been to Pompeii twice but never managed to get to Herculaneum too. The top of Versuvius is great as well, lovely views and such an impressive place. Planning on going this summer for a couple of days so will have to do Herculaneum this time.

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 7 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      Interesting Hub on Pompeii and great photos. I have been to Pompeii a couple of times, but have not yet made it to Herculaneum. Would love to go back for another visit.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you very much for a wonderful and informative hub.