Pompeii was one of the largest and most colorful Italian cities built during the Roman era. Thanks to the large production and export of oil and wine, Pompeii became a very wealthy city and a tourist center for the Roman patricians.
In AD 79, Vesuvius destroyed the city with a violent eruption, covering the Roman city in a 12-meter layer of fine ash, which preserved the city and its suffocated inhabitants for nearly 1,700 years. Ongoing excavations, begun in the 18th century, have unearthed many artifacts, as well as revealing intricate details of the daily lives of the doomed inhabitants of Pompeii.
The city attracts millions of tourists every year also because of the presence of the Church of the Blessed Virgin of the Holy Rosary. He is revered by Catholics all over the world. On the days of prayers to the Virgin Mary (May 8 and the first Sunday in October), the city receives about six million pilgrims who reach Pompeii in private cars and buses. Between the excavations and the Sanctuary of Pompeii hide other beauties that deserve attention. Below we will tell you about the sights worth visiting in Pompeii, without missing anything about its thousand-year history. You can find more interesting information about various places of interest in Italian cities on the Guide Tours portal.
Sights of Pompeii
The Forum, located at the archaeological site of Pompeii, was the economic, political and religious center of the Italian city. It was the place where all public discussions and religious events took place, and it was the real heart of the city.
In the beginning, it was not a very large area, and there were several shops where goods were sold. In the second century BC, the inhabitants of Pompeii decided to give the Forum a more appropriate structure, based on the task assigned to it. The square was enlarged, shops were re-clad, walkways were added to protect pedestrians from the rain, and public buildings were built on the sides of the square. The decoration of the Pompeii Forum was completed by replacing the old tuff floor with a more beautiful travertine floor, the remains of which can still be seen today.
Once in the center of the square, the ruins of the Temple of Apollo attract attention. It is the most important ancient religious site in Pompeii.
The inhabitants of Pompeii, like good pagans, loved carnal pleasures and easily demonstrated their passions. In many houses of Pompeii there were secret rooms in which slaves of wealthy masters fornicated. You could buy a small company for anywhere from two to eight “assis” (the currency of Pompeii at the time), an affordable amount for almost everyone, given that the average price for a glass of wine was one “assis”.
Lupanar (from “Lupo” meaning wolf, because “wolf” is Latin for “prostitute”) is the only building in Pompeii built specifically for this purpose. The brothel, located in the ruins of Pompeii, was divided into two floors, each of which was reserved for a certain type of clientele. The first floor, consisting of five bedrooms, a corridor and a bathroom, was intended for lower class clients. However, the first floor was reserved for upper class clients. A private entrance and balcony roof gave access to the rooms and were decorated with exquisite taste. On the walls, you can still see small pictures depicting insatiable lovers in various erotic positions, ideal for lazy lovers looking for inspiration.
3. House of the Faun
The owner of the “House of the Faun”, in the archaeological site of Pompeii, would definitely be one of the most enviable men in the city. The ruins of the house resemble a huge complex with rooms and areas designed for various purposes. The owner of the property could not be identified from the remains. This building was called the “House of the Faun” because of the bronze statue of a dancing faun, which was in the center of one of the main halls.
The amphitheater, located at the end of Via del Abbondanza, in the archaeological site of Pompeii, is the oldest stone building of its kind ever discovered. In fact, its construction dates back to 80 BC, and Rome’s first amphitheater, the Statilio Tauro, was built in 29 BC.
One of the features of the amphitheater discovered during the excavations of Pompeii is that this structure did not have a cellar under the floor of the arena, as was the case earlier in the same building of the imperial era.
At the top of the amphitheater you can see the large openings used to reinforce the roof of the arena to protect the spectators from the scorching sun, wind and rain. Thus, performances could take place at any time of the year, regardless of weather conditions.
5. Temple of Apollo
The Temple of Apollo, facing the Forum of the city, is the oldest building in Pompeii and illustrates the changes in architectural styles that have taken place since its inception in the 6th century BC. until its destruction in 79 AD. The original Etruscan design was modified by the Greeks and then expanded by the Romans by adding the perimeter of the outer columns. Although most of the original bronze statues of the temple are now in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, a copy of Apollo and a bust of the goddess Diana stand in their place.
6. Villa of Mysteries
The Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii is an ancient Roman house located near the city and the archaeological site. It is impossible to establish the owner of this magnificent building, but some ruins suggest that some wealthy Roman patrician may have been the owner. Some argue that the villa belonged to Livia, the wife of Emperor Augustus, as a statue depicting her was found in the ruins. The Villa of Mysteries takes its name from a series of paintings discovered in one of the rooms of the house, the meaning of which some experts are still trying to determine.
7. Runaway Garden
The Garden of the Runaways is by far the most heartbreaking site of the end of Pompeii with the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. During the excavations of 1961–1962 and 1973–19774, the bodies of 13 victims of the eruption, affected by lava and lapillus, were found. Men, women, and children from one or more family groups were suffocated by gases and then slowly covered in ash.
The figures that you see today in the garden of the fugitives are perfect plaster reproductions that allow us to understand the last moments of the life of these inhabitants of Pompeii.