What to see in Italy
Tourist attractions Pompeii
The tale of Pompeii has long captured the popular imagination. In 79 AD, this bustling port town had its fate tragically sealed by the devastating volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The entire town, along with the nearby settlement of Herculaneum, was buried under metres of volcanic ash. The molten ash and lava fell so quickly, with little warning, preserving the city exactly as it stood in 79 AD, hauntingly frozen in time. The unique consequence of Pompeii’s volcanic burial is that the entire city was preserved in immaculate condition. Therefore, this UNESCO World Heritage Site offers one of the most realistic examples of Roman life in the world.
Once a wealthy town, home to grand public buildings and lavish villas, a trip to Pompeii is an unforgettable experience for anyone interested in archaeology or history. Pompeii is situated close to the major city of Naples, in the Campania region of Italy. If you visit Pompeii you’ll be able to see a total of 22 buildings, walk along Roman streets and see all the fascinating paraphernalia of everyday life in this ancient city. Most striking are the preserved bodies of Pompeii’s citizens, stopped in their tracks on that fateful day, and entombed without volcanic ash forevermore.
If you travel to Pompeii, be sure to take a moment to contemplate towering Mount Vesuvius in the distance, a constant reminder of the devastating power of nature. Nearby, the modern town of Pompei offers plenty of amenities, accommodation options and transport links.
Things to see at Pompeii
A guided tour of Pompeii is recommended to get the most out of the visit and added insight into Roman-era life. The Forum is one of the most popular things to see at Pompeii and was once the cultural and civic centre of the town. Religious and cultural events were held in the vast piazza, flanked by limestone columns. Situated close to the main gate, this is the starting point of most tours of Pompeii.
One of the most intriguing sights at Pompeii is the Lupanane. Home to explicit ancient frescoes, this Roman brothel offers an unprecedented insight into the intimate lives of Pompeii’s inhabitants. Each of the five downstairs rooms is equipped with a stone bed, whilst the walls are covered with ancient graffiti, describing stories of love and hope and written in various languages by the brothel’s workers.
One of the most complete buildings in Pompeii, the Villa of Mysteries is home to amazing, colourful frescoes. Importantly, this villa is home to the Dionysiac frieze, one of the largest surviving paintings from the ancient world, depicting a Greco-Roman ritual in honour of the god of wine, Dionysus.
Other highlights of a trip to Pompeii include the imposing Amphitheatre, the oldest surviving Roman-era stadium in existence, and the Antiquarium Museum, which showcases an array of archaeological finds from the site. The museum also exhibits interesting reconstructions of the buildings of Pompeii, which are helpful for imagining the town in its former glory.