Pompeii, Italy

Pompeii is a ruined Roman city near modern Naples and is Italy's premier tourist attraction. Along with Herculaneum, Pompeii was destroyed, and completely buried, during a catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius spanning two days on 24 August 79 AD.

The volcano collapsed higher roof-lines and buried Pompeii under many meters of ash and pumice, and it was lost for nearly 1700 years before its accidental rediscovery in 1748. Since then, its excavation has provided an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city at the height of the Roman Empire. Today, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Italy and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Excavations in the site have generally ceased (2007) due to the moratorium imposed by the superintendent of the site. Additionally, the site is generally less accessible to tourists, with less than a third of all buildings open in the 1960s being available for public viewing today. Nevertheless, the sections of the ancient city open to the public are extensive, and tourists can spend many hours exploring.

Modern Pompeii, less than a kilometre away has the usual plethora or eateries and ice cream shops. On a balmy evening, laying in the square with your one and only is a wonderful way to while away the night.

Links

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pompeii


3 Sep 2005 - Pompeii, Italy

Why not combine a trip to Pompeii and the bay of Naples with a trip to the top of Vesuvius? Vesuvius not only has its place in history as the volcano that destroyed and preserved a number of Roman towns but is also the location where the Roman slave gladiator and leader of the slave revolt, Spartacus set up camp. At this time Mount Vesuvius had a flat top, was dormant and heavily wooded which allowed them to train properly for coming fight with the Romans.

The Romans besieged the rebels on Vesuvius thus blocking their escape, but Spartacus had ropes made from vines and with his men climbed down a cliff on the other side of the mountain, to the rear of the Roman soldiers, and staged a surprise attack. Not expecting trouble from a handful of slaves, the Romans had not fortified their camp or posted adequate sentries. As a result, most of the Roman soldiers were still sleeping and killed in this attack. After this success many runaway slaves joined Spartacus until the group grew into an army of allegedly 120,000 escaped slaves.

Spartacus defeated a number of Roman armies but eventually lost the war and were defeated. After the battle, 6600 of Spartacus' followers were crucified along the via Appia (or the Appian Way) from Brundisium to Rome. The bodies were never taken down and travellers were forced to see the bodies for years, perhaps decades, after the final battle.
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Pompeii - The bay of Naples from Vesuvius

Pompeii - The bay of Naples from Vesuvius

From the top of Vesuvius on a clear day you can get fantastic views of the area. After getting a bus from the bottom you are taken to a car park near the summit. From there a path up the side of the mountain takes you to the crater and the summit. Its nots too difficult a walk if you are fit but there are plenty of people wheezing along with a stick.

2 Aug 2005 - Pompeii, Italy

My third time to Pompeii and again I stayed in a campsite although a different one to last time. Even though it was my third time and so much seemed familiar, there was also much that was new and even now there are many things that I still haven't seen or explored such is the scale of the site. Would I go again? Definitely.
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Pompeii - Partly exposed skull of a victim in Pompeii

Pompeii - Partly exposed skull of a victim in Pompeii

One of the bodies found in Pompeii, why this one has the skull exposed is question I would like to have answered so if you know why then please drop me a message.
Pompeii - View of the entire Forum

Pompeii - View of the entire Forum

This shows the entire forum. In the centre of the picture can be seen where water was and still is supplied. The large raised platforms in the mid distance would have held statues.

Vesuvius looms large and menacing in the distance.
Pompeii - View of the Forum

Pompeii - View of the Forum

32 meters wide and 142 meters long, paved in travertine and surrounded by a covered arcade on three sides, this was the heart of political and religious life in the city.

Though it may appear to be ruined now, many of the columns were already collapsed from the earthquake in 62 AD.
Pompeii - Road from the Tower Of Mercury into the city

Pompeii - Road from the Tower Of Mercury into the city

This street is leading further into the city. Behind the photographer stands the Tower of Mercury, guarding the gate that leading to the road to Herculaneum.

The tower still carries the damage done by Sulla when he besieged the city in 89-88 BC.
Pompeii - The agony of death

Pompeii - The agony of death

Agony is etched into the face and expression of this victim of the eruption. Archeologists have come to the conclusion that this is a free man and perhaps the master of the slave in the next picture.

In this picture we can get an impression of what this face from the past looked like.
Pompeii - Dead slave in Pompeii

Pompeii - Dead slave in Pompeii

The agonising death of a slave in Pompeii. Archeologists know that this victim is a slave by the belt that he is wearing which indicates who he is owned by.
Pompeii - Public lavatories in the forum

Pompeii - Public lavatories in the forum

The public lavatories in the forum of Pompeii were reputedly rather luxurious for the time and were superior to those in most houses.

Urine was also collected for use in the fulling of wool products.
Pompeii - House of the Small Fountain

Pompeii - House of the Small Fountain

From the 1st Century BC, this house retains the typical plan organised so that guests would become aware of the host's social status immediately.

Almost all the rooms open onto the atrium. The roof slopes inward into the impluvium (open space in the room) so that rainwater drains down into the impluvium (a shallow basin) in the centre of the atrium of the house.

The fountain-nymphauem in the photo is covered with mosaics.
Pompeii - Bathhouse Telamon

Pompeii - Bath house Telamon

A sculptured support in the form of a man. This one is in one of the public baths and forms a separator between recesses, presumably for the storage of one's clothes.
Pompeii - Thermopolium of Vetutius Placidus

Pompeii - Thermopolium of Vetutius Placidus

One of the 89 thermopolia in Pompeii, these public establishments served hot food and drink and this one is a typical structure: one room open to the road with dolia (jars) holding the goods sunk into the counter.

Note the frescoed aedicula (shrine) portraying the Lares (protectors of the house) as well as the Mercury (god of trade), Dionysus (god of wine).
Pompeii - House of the Venus Marina I

Pompeii - House of the Venus Marina I

Damaged by a bomb that fell on Pompeii in 1943, this house seems to be built over an older one. Almost all of the rooms go around the garden.

This house was made famous by the beautiful painting on the south wall, a lush garden and other decorative elements spread across three panels. The main painting of Venus can be seen in the next image.
Pompeii - House of the Venus Marina II

Pompeii - House of the Venus Marina II

This painting shows the goddess Venus lying with two cherubs in a pink sea shell. Although clumsily painted, the composition is not lacking particularly if viewed from the right distance.

She has a fan in her right hand while her left is holding a veil which is blowing in the wind. Her hair shows typical curls and she is earring gold jewellery.
Pompeii - House of the Venus Marina III

Pompeii - House of the Venus Marina III

A close view of Venus and her cherubs. Looking into the faces of these paintings I feel like I am also peering into the mind of the artist who did this all those years ago.

Seeing such vivid evidence of life and culture is what creates that mental connection with a different world and brings it alive and current.
Pompeii - Amphitheatre

Pompeii - Amphitheatre

Built in 80-70BC, this is one of the best preserved amphitheatres in existence and held over 20k spectators.

Two gates opened onto the axis of the arena: participants paraded through one gate while the dead and defeated were carried away through the other.

In 59BC a riot between fans from Pompeii and Nocera which led to a 10 year ban on 'games' but this was lifted after the great earthquake of 62AD.
Pompeii - Thermopolium on Via Consolare I

Pompeii - Thermopolium on Via Consolare I

One of the 89 thermopolia in Pompeii, these public establishments served hot food and drink and this one is a typical structure: one room open to the road with dolia (jars) holding the goods sunk into the counter.
Pompeii - Thermopolium on Via Consolare II

Pompeii - Thermopolium on Via Consolare II

The same Thermopolium but looking from behind the counter. This road takes you out of the city and eventually towards the Villa of Mysteries.
Pompeii - Villa of Mysteries

Pompeii - Villa of Mysteries

Out of town and on a slope facing the seaside, this would have been a fine place to live. Some of the most ornately decorated frescos can be found in the villa including one depicting a mystery ritual scene, hence the name of the villa.
Pompeii - Time to leave Pompeii

Pompeii - Time to leave Pompeii

Time to leave Pompeii - but who knows, I may return...

Now though, its off to the join the circumvesuviana rail link and go on to Sorrento.

2 Sep 2004 - Pompeii, Italy

My second time in Pompeii and this time it wasn't a day trip. A campsite provided the accommodation which even in September provides for a sweaty night. Though it was my second time here, I was no less impressed and still managed to miss seeing some important sites that I missed the first time I was here.
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Pompeii - Frescos in an unknown house I

Pompeii - Frescos in an unknown house I

Initially I was amazed at the detail and bright colouring of frescos such as these but Pompeii has so much great art that seeing such fine work almost becomes blase.
Pompeii - Garden pool

Pompeii - Garden pool

Pompeii was a city of great wealth and in this house there exists a pool in the central garden area. Judging by the steps at the end, my guess is that this was a swimming pool but what appears to be a fountain in the middle suggests it may have been a pool for ornamental purposes.
Pompeii - Frescos in an unknown house II

Pompeii - Frescos in an unknown house II

Another great examples of the art adorning the walls of the houses in Pompeii. This features cherubs and birds.
Pompeii - House of the Vettii

Pompeii - House of the Vettii

This house best shows the wealth of the merchants in the last 10 years of the city's life. While there is much to see in this house, the entrance has this picture of Priapus (a fertility god , protector of livestock, fruit plants, gardens and male genitalia) weighing his huge phallus on some scales.

This figure was placed at the entrance to ward off the evil eye or those jealous of the wealth of the Vettiis.
Pompeii - House on the Via dell' Abbondanza

Pompeii - House on the Via dell' Abbondanza

This house is based on the Via dell' Abbondanza and must have been a very busy place to be. However, once through the mosaic floored entrance way leading from the Pompeii's primary road we can see the usual Roman arrangement of impluvium for collecting rain water and central opening.
Pompeii - Bakeries

Pompeii - Bakeries

Pompeii had 31 bakeries. Grain was brought to the bakery for refining using mills made out of volcanic rock. Grain was fed into the top and then ground using mules to rotate the grinder.

Bread was baked in the ovens alongside the mills. These were heated by burning vine faggots. Loaves were then transported to separate shops and stalls.
Pompeii - Via della Fortuna

Pompeii - Via della Fortuna

The deep ruts in the huge blocks of limestone are evidence of the intense traffic on this important road.
Pompeii - Brothel

Pompeii - Brothel

There were 25 houses of ill repute in Pompeii, some being just a single small rooms and others being part of a brothel. Actually, there was little dishonour in patronising brothers unless you were of the upper classes and neither was there any shame in heterosexual or homosexual acts.

This is one of the rooms in a brothel: a concrete bed which would have had a straw mattress on top. The brothel held 10 beds and on the walls can be seen a tally of the business that was conducted.
Pompeii - Brothel: Erotic art 1

Pompeii - Brothel: Erotic art 1

Various scenes adorned the walls of the brothels or above the entrances to the rooms. There is no evidence to suggest that the images were advertisements of particular skills.

Prices ranged from 2 to 8 (where a portion of wine cost 1).
Pompeii - Brothel: Erotic art 2

Pompeii - Brothel: Erotic art 2

Customers were usually freedmen or slaves as wealthier patrons could afford to have prostitutes brought to their homes or could simply make use of their own slaves or servants.
Pompeii - Brothel: Erotic art 3

Pompeii - Brothel: Erotic art 3

Brothels offered a choice of young women or men and although there was no shame attached to being a patron, there was a stigma attached to being employed as a prostitute.
Pompeii - Via dell' Abbondanza

Pompeii - Via dell' Abbondanza

The ruined doorways of an endless series of shops line the Via dell' Abbondanza - 'the street of abundance'. Once this street bustled with crowds buying and selling, drinking and eating as they promenaded from the forum to the amphitheatre.

Now it bustles with hordes of tourists strolling down its cobbled length.
Pompeii - Fullonica of Stephanus

Pompeii - Fullonica of Stephanus

One important trade in Pompeii was that of the fullones. These traders processed raw wool; handling, spinning, weaving, dying and washing.

At the rear of the building consisted a series of tubs used for washing: fullones trampled the cloth in a mixture of water and soda or urine, both of which are degreasers. In fact, urine was so important that outside the building there used to be receptacles that passers by could use for relief.
Pompeii - Street fresco

Pompeii - Street fresco

This is almost opposite the fullonica on the Via dell' Abbondanza. What the significance of this is escapes me - political perhaps or an indication of what the building is for?
Pompeii - House of the Menander

Pompeii - House of the Menander

Built in the 3rd century BC, this building is named after the Greek playwright Menander because of a fresco bearing his image. Over 1800m squared, this was the house of the wealthy and may have belonged to the family of the mad Roman Emperor Nero's second wife.
Pompeii - House of the Ceii (Ancient Hunt)

Pompeii - House of the Ceii (Ancient Hunt)

On the back wall of this house has a fresco depicting a variety of African animals. A lion chasing a bull, leopards pouncing on rams, hyenas and a wild boar all feature in this work of Pompeiian fantasy.
Pompeii - Small theatre I

Pompeii - Small theatre I

Looking down from the cheap seats in the small theatre. Seating was arranged by class and is visible how the rows for the general public gives way to the broad slabs of the lower tiers where the wealthy and important brought their own comfortable chairs.
Pompeii - Small theatre II

Pompeii - Small theatre II

The small theatre was first used as a meeting place and evolved to be a venue for lectures, poetry, readings, concerts and refined drama.
Pompeii - House of Octavius Quartio

Pompeii - House of Octavius Quartio

Or sometimes called the House of Loreius Tibertinus, a priest of the Egyptian goddess, Isis. It is lush with greenery and two long pools alluding to the Nile. This fresco is in the garden, with the garden being behind the photographer.
Pompeii - Amphitheatre I

Pompeii - Amphitheatre I

Built in 70 BC, this is one of the oldest and best preserved amphitheatres in existence. Exploring the inside is like being in a modern stadium with tunnels underneath the seating areas leading up to the different levels of seating.The building was used for gladiator battles.
Pompeii - Amphitheatre II

Pompeii - Amphitheatre II

This plaque is at the entrance to the arena and is dedicated to the builders of the stadium. Two local officials, Quinctius Valgus and Marcius Porcius, built the amphitheatre at private expense for games or for the spectacula attempting to get popular support to build a political career.
Pompeii - Amphitheatre III

Pompeii - Amphitheatre III

At the entrance to the arena.
Pompeii - Garden of the fugitives

Pompeii - Garden of the fugitives

So called because this former vineyard houses the plaster casts of a few of the victims of the eruption as they sought an escape.

They suffocated to death and one by one they fell in their family groups. These form the most dramatic examples of the death that overtook Pompeii and her people.
Pompeii - Forum granary I

Pompeii - Forum granary I

Just off the forum, this granary was built after 62 AD and may not have been in use or even completed at the time of the eruption. It is now used to store various archeological materials from Pompeii (amphorae, architectural elements, marble garden furniture); a few plaster casts of victims are on display.
Pompeii - Forum granary II

Pompeii - Forum granary II

This is a cast of a dog that died still tied to a pole.

The casts are formed by pouring plaster into the cavities formed by the decomposed body. The plaster solidifies and reproduces the shape of the body.
Pompeii - Forum granary III

Pompeii - Forum granary III

By the looks of it, this person died hunched in fear, possibly unable to escape the city and hoping for the best.

5 Apr 1999 - Pompeii, Italy

After reading so much about Pompeii, this was my first visit and after an overnight train journey from Ferrara I was more than ready to explore this ruin and almost travel back in time. Its easy to rush through from monument to monument particularly if you are short of time but the best way to appreciate it is to take your time and read all you can about what you are looking at and learn the relevance of it to Pompeii's people and their way of life.
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5 Apr 1999 - Pompeii, Italy

After reading so much about Pompeii, this was my first visit and after an overnight train journey from Ferrara I was more than ready to explore this ruin and almost travel back in time. Its easy to rush through from monument to monument particularly if you are short of time but the best way to appreciate it is to take your time and read all you can about what you are looking at and learn the relevance of it to Pompeii's people and their way of life.
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