Ancient Forum, the principal square of any Roman Town, is one of the main things to see in Pompeii. The former center of Pompeii lives up to the expectations. When you step in, you will find yourself encircled by colonnades and, on the north, by the Temple of Jupiter standing strong and proud on a three-meter base. As you start exploring, the Forum unfolds various aspects of the town’s daily life. For instance, at the corner to the right of the Jupiter’s Temple is the Macellum, a food market hall. Many other similar buildings are scattered around the square. Look for shrines, temples, wool-selling hall or the place where the town council held their meetings. There is also a basilica which was not only used as a court of law but also a market. When strolling around the Forum, every step you take is a step into the daily routines of ancient inhabitants of Pompeii.
Garden of Fugitives is perhaps the most iconic image visitors have in mind when thinking of Pompeii. Casts of human bodies, adults and children alike, as they took cover after realizing they couldn’t make it out. This incredibly compelling scene captures the tragedy that struck this town. Though simple homes once occupied this area, the excavations showed it had been transformed into a vineyard with an outdoor pergola-covered dining room for banquets a few years before the eruption. These thirteen victims scattered around the enclosure were seized by death while trying to flee running on top of the pumice stones of hardened lava. A sudden flow of hot gas, causing almost instant suffocation interrupted their desperate flight. Out of all places to visit in Pompeii, the Gardens of the Fugitives is the one that makes you ponder over the disastrous and heartbreaking impact of the eruption.
What to do in Pompeii besides exploring its many ruins? Well, hop on a shuttle, and up Mount Vesuvius you go! Yes, you can go on the way to the top. A shuttle will only take you to the end of the road though. The final station conveniently boasts restaurants, souvenir shops, and the views are already pretty breathtaking. However, if you have the time and physique, venture up the steep path to the top. The hike only takes around half an hour and takes you all the way to the desolate, moon-like crater's edge. Though Mount Vesuvius is seemingly calm, don’t let it fool you! The volcano is taking a nap but is still very much active. The last eruption took place in 1944, and another can come about without much warning. In fact, when the volcano is acting a bit too frisky, the authorities close the access until it calms down. If you are up for a bit of adrenaline and incredible views, you know what to do!
Resting in the shade of Mount Vesuvius, a still active volcano, the Pompeii Scavi site is a blunt reminder of the destructive fiery forces lying deep inside that mountain. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has quite a story; a story people from all over the world gather to hear and see.
The origins of the old Roman city are a bit uncertain. However, it is likely the Campaign Oscans established Pompeii around the 7th century BC. Over the following seven centuries, the city came to belong to the Greeks and the Samnites. In 80 BC, it became a Roman colony. While the rulers changed, the nature and purpose of the city as a retreat for wealthy vacationers thirsty for the sun and scenery prevailed.
By the turn of the first century AD, the city was a buzzing resort for Rome’s wealthiest citizens. Elegant houses and pompous villas lined its streets. Vacationers, locals, and slaves scurried in and out of small factories and shops, taverns, cafes, markets, bathhouses, and even brothels. On the day of the eruption in 79 AD, historians estimate about 20,000 people living in Pompeii and its surroundings. While most of the population managed to be evacuated, over 2000 men, women, and children fell victims to the natural disaster.
By the next day when the eruption faded, Pompeii stood buried under a thick layer of volcanic ash which wrapped around everything and everyone left behind. A simple chemical reaction ensured the remains stayed preserved for millennia. After the eruption, Pompeii stayed untouched and out of sight for centuries. That is until 1748 when few explorers in search of ancient artifacts came to Campania and started to dig deep. They realized that ashes acted as an incredible preservative. Under all the debris, Pompeii stood precisely as it was two millennia ago with buildings intact and skeletons frozen as they fell. Later, archaeologists even discovered some jars of preserved fruit and loaves of bread.
Today, Pompeii Scavi offer an excellent opportunity to walk through an ancient Roman city allowing us to imagine the daily lives of its inhabitants. Things to do in Pompeii include visits to the towns amphitheater, wealthy villas, forum, shrines, bathhouses and more.
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