Pompeii, the unique city and its history, art and culture
Declared World Human Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2007, Pompeii lies in a great position for those who are visiting Italy. It is located inside Parco Nazionale del Vesuvio, (Vesuvius National Park) one of Italy's most famous volcanoes, right in the middle of Costiera Amalfitana and not far from Naples, which is just 25 kilometers away.
Needless to say, Pompeii is a must stop: not only because of its convenient and easy-to-reach position but also (and especially) because it is likely to be the best place in Italy where to discover and "see" history, art, and culture.
The origins of Pompeii date back to 2,000 years B.C. when some Italic populations decided to settle down in this beautiful and fertile region. Years later, Pompeii soon became one of the most thriving cities of the Roman Empire, until a fatal disaster of the history happened: in the year 79, a big eruption from Vesuvio completely covered the entire city, burying it under more than 4 meters of ash and lapilli. The city was accidentally discovered in the eighteenth century and, since then, it has become a popular tourist attraction.
The buried city is a real mine of historic treasures. Visiting the Pompeii Excavations (Scavi di Pompei) can take even a whole day, but at least some hours. You can reach the excavations by the Circumvesuviana train which stops at Pompeii, and you can also purchase an audio guide in addition to your ticket. Also, remember that there is just a little shade throughout the site, so make sure you are sun-protected.
The Excavations extend over a large area, as they include an entire city. Here are some parts of the site that you really should visit:
- The main square (Foro) (pic n°1) used to be the economic, cultural and religious center of the ancient town of Pompeii where the everyday life happened.
- In the middle is located Apollo's Temple, (pic n°2) one of the most ancient religious places, where various pagan gods were worshiped.
- Walking along Via dell'Abbondanza, you can easily reach the Amphitheater (pic n°4) (Anfiteatro), the oldest ever discovered amphitheater, a great and magnificent structure that could welcome more than 20,000 spectators. In 1971, Pink Floyd held here a memorable concert.
-In Via della Fortuna, the history lovers will have to visit Casa del Fauno, (pic n°3) a wonderful and elegant Roman villa, whose name comes from the god of nature and woods.
- Close to this villa, there is Teatro Grande, a beautiful theater with about 5,000 seats and fine statues and marbles at the stage's sides. The theater is still active, and many operas are represented here every year.
One of the most visited buildings located on the outskirts of Pompeii is an estate called Villa of the Mysteries (Villa dei Misteri) (pic n°6). It was built in the 2nd century B.C., rebuilt in the 1st century A.D. and destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. It was discovered only in 1910 thanks to an excavation. It is a marvelous, well-preserved villa with paintings and finely decorated frescoes, which illustrate the arcane mysteries of Dionysus. Villa of the Mysteries was reopened in 2015 after two years of restoration work.
Also, the new city of Pompeii is worth a visit. Located southwest of the excavations, it was founded at the end of the nineteenth century by Bartolo Longo, who built Santuario della Beata Vergine del Rosario di Pompei, the most beautiful and important religious building of the city.
Some pictures of Pompeii:
Pompeii: The Main Square "Foro" (pic n°1); Apollo's Temple (pic n°2); Casa del Fauno (pic n°3); Amphitheater (pic n°4); Roman baths in Pompeii (pic n°5); Villa of the Mysteries (pic n°6);