pompeii history

POMPEII HISTORY

City frozen in time – Uncover the history of Pompeii

Exploring the historical ruins of Pompeii offers a unique opportunity to transport back to an ancient era. The city, frozen in time since the infamous Mount Vesuvius eruption in 79 A.D., is a vivid testament to that catastrophic event. In the blink of an eye, volcanic ash and lava descended from the skies, preserving homes, residents, streets, public structures, and everyday artifacts, creating a fascinating scene that continues to captivate contemporary visitors.

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What happened to Pompeii?

In the year 79 AD, Pompeii was a thriving city located in southern Italy with a population of approximately 12,000 residents. This ancient city boasted a variety of amenities, including cafes, shops, bathhouses, and even an arena. Among its inhabitants were numerous wealthy Romans, and the city also had an upcoming election. Tragically, the residents of Pompeii were entirely unaware of the impending disaster that would soon befall them: the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius volcano.

When the volcano erupted, it sent ash, rocks, and gas high into the air, creating a dark ash cloud that could be seen from up to 100 miles away. Many people ran away to escape the danger, but unfortunately, not many of them succeeded. Around 2,000 citizens of Pompeii had died, and many more in nearby places also lost their lives.

Rediscovery of Pompeii

In 1592, while digging an underground water channel, architect Domenico Fontana discovered old walls adorned with paintings and writing. In 1748, Spanish architect Roque Joaquin de Alcubierre uncovered further remains at the site. Finally, in 1763, they came across an inscription that confirmed the location as Pompeii.

Over time, there were many excavations, and they made important discoveries, like finding empty spaces in the ash layers that held human remains. Giuseppe Fiorelli found these remains and filled them with plaster to make models of the bodies, a technique still used today. Nowadays, they use clear resin instead of plaster to avoid damaging the bones. They divided the city into different parts and numbered houses, carefully recording all the information and findings.

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Pompeii today

Pompeii is still an active archaeological site today, and when you visit it, you will have an opportunity to see archaeologists working on both small and large projects. The city is divided into districts, each with its own places that are definitely worth visiting. It would be quite helpful to do a bit of research and read Pompeii visiting tips before arriving there because this is quite a large archaeological site, and it is easy to get lost in its ruins. To make the most out of your visit, we also highly recommend going on one of our Pompeii guided tours. This will allow you to fully explore the site and learn all about its tragic history.

What can you see in Pompeii?

amphitheatre of pompeii

The Roman Amphitheatre

The destination on your Pompeii itinerary should definitely be the Roman Amphitheatre, located directly across from the entrance to Piazza Anfiteatro and predating the Coliseum by a century. This remarkable structure was constructed around 70 BC under the direction of the magistrates Q. Valgus and M. Porcius, and it stands as one of the most remarkably well-preserved amphitheaters globally. With a capacity for over 20,000 spectators, it was originally adorned with marble; however, its immense size led to it being the first site to be looted once the ruins were unearthed.

pompeii forum

The Forum

The remarkable Roman Forum, enhancing the allure of any visit to Pompeii, is an absolute must-see. It offers a stunning vantage point from which you can see Mount Vesuvius, casting its majestic shadow over Pompeii with an eerie ambiance that transports you back to the city’s pre-eruption atmosphere. The Forum is located at the intersection of the primary thoroughfares of the ancient city and served as the central square, strictly off-limits to carts and chariots.

temple of apollo

Temple of Apollo

The Temple of Apollo in Pompeii is considered to be the city’s oldest building. It’s a symbol of the city’s long history. The real statues of Apollo and Diana are gone, but you can still see replicas there.

pompeii forum baths

Stabian Baths

The Stabian baths featured three thermal baths, each with chambers that maintained elevated temperatures by circulating hot water through the room’s walls. Additionally, they included distinct areas designated for both males and females.

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The Garden of the Fugitives

The Garden of the Fugitives started as a historic neighborhood within the ancient city of Pompeii. It was subsequently transformed into a vineyard before the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. Its present designation is tied to the recovery of 13 individuals’ remains who seemed to be making an escape toward the Nocera Gate, only to be preserved in ash and lava, as evidenced by the casts made by pouring liquid plaster into their voids.

villa dei misteri

Villa dei Misteri

Villa dei Misteri is a remarkable architectural and artistic masterpiece located in the heart of the Pompeii ruins. It has its own garden and a spacious terrace, and its interior is adorned with magnificent artwork. The villa’s name refers to the mysterious initiation ritual on its walls, with astonishing details portraying a woman undergoing the initiation into the cult of Dionysus in the painting, which is still clearly visible.

lupanare brothel pompeii

Lupanare

Among the numerous brothels in the Pompeii ruins, Lupanar stands out as the most special one. The chambers featured stone platforms, serving as bed bases and were furnished with mattresses. While visiting, make sure to take notice of the wall graffiti in Lupanar, which is believed to have been created by both the prostitutes and their patrons.

Why should you visit Pompeii?

A visit to Pompeii is a unique journey through time and an unparalleled opportunity to connect with a bygone era. It’s a chance to witness the remarkable preservation of a once-thriving Roman town, frozen in time by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. As you walk its ancient streets and explore its 2,000-year-old, well-preserved public buildings, you’ll gain a deep understanding of the daily life, art, and culture of Pompeii’s inhabitants. The enigmatic myths and captivating history surrounding this UNESCO World Heritage Site make it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking to unravel the mysteries of the past.

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5 interesting facts you probably didn’t know about Pompeii

Nobody knows the exact date of the volcano eruption.

Pliny the Younger, an ancient Roman writer who saw the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, said it happened on August 24th. But because of the stuff like food and clothes found buried in the ash, some people argue that this date might be wrong.

Researchers cast bodies.

A lot of bodies were found under the ash and rock from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Some of these bodies left empty spaces in the ash when they decayed, and an Italian architect named Giuseppe Fiorelli saw this in 1863. He had the smart idea to pour plaster into these spaces to make molds of the people who got buried in Pompeii. This has been a big help to scientists and other architects who want to learn more about what happened during this huge disaster.

The residents of Pompeii had Hollywood smiles.

Thanks to new technology, Italian scientists have used CT scans to look inside the bodies buried in Pompeii. They found that the people of Pompeii had really healthy teeth, likely because of their good diet and the high amount of fluorine from the nearby volcano.

Pink Floyd in Pompeii.

In 1972, the rock band Pink Floyd played a concert in an old Roman theater in Pompeii. Nobody was there to watch, but a filmmaker named Adrien Maben made it into a cool movie. The music sounded great in the theater, and it became a big deal in rock history.

The wind was blowing the wrong way.

It might sound confusing, but a big reason why many people died when Vesuvius erupted is because the wind was blowing in an unusual direction, towards the northwest. Usually, the wind comes from the southwest, which would have pushed the volcanic stuff away from the city instead of covering it. It’s amazing to think that this little change in wind caused so much harm and destroyed the entire city.

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Want to learn more about Pompeii?

Our Pompeii guided tours are available every day. All you have to do is choose which one suits you the best and book it right away!