It stood there, ever full of life on the fertile landscape near the foot of the great volcano that blessed everyone with a bountiful harvest. All lived contentedly as the gods anoint all of their undertakings. All thought that the bustling city would flourish even more as new temples, market squares, and houses were built to make way for the growing population.
However, it only took one eruption to change everything. And Pompei was, and always will be, no more.
The city of Pompeii is an example of how natural calamities can end civilizations in an instant. What remains in the ancient site is only a shadow of its former glory. Even so, the debris of Pompeii is a sight to behold not only for its beauty but also for the story of the tragedy that happened.
Just like other olden cities in Italy, Pompeii was a Roman city. Before calamity struck, Pompeii has at least 12,000 residents comprised of centurions, magistrates, consuls, praetors, commoners, slaves, and traders. These carried on their day to day tasks at temples, stone houses, market squares, public bathhouses, etc.
Agriculture in Pompeii was very healthy. The volcano near to it, Mount Vesuvius, made the ground fertile with ashes that come from the minor periodic eruptions in the past. Because of this, people from other Roman regions highly prized Pompeii’s agricultural products, especially the grapes. Accordingly, Pompeii had the best wine in all of the Roman Empire.
Pompeii might have been as great as the city of Rome if not for the eruption.
The eruption is a major turning point in Pompeii’s history. In the fateful summer of A.D. 79, as the residents carried on with day-to-day tasks like farming, tending to livestock, trading with visitors, commencing lavish parties, and finished governmental affairs, Mount Vesuvius erupted. In Pliny the Younger’s biography, Mount Vesuvius erupted till mid-evening and sent tremors around the city, which destroyed buildings and changed the nearby coastline’s landscape.
But the tremor isn’t the major problem. What really devastated Pompeii was the ash and pumice that rained down. Factual accounts state that Pompeii was buried in 15-17 feet of ash and pumice.
The calamity of Mount Vesuvius killed 2,000 residents. Survivors decided to leave the city after the unfortunate incident.
Attractions in Pompeii Today
Layers of ash imprisoned Pompeii for a thousand years. Explorers, who are searching for artifacts in Campania, discovered and excavated Pompeii in 1748. Years after its discovery, Pompeii is now a major tourist destination not far from Naples’s city.
These are the top attractions that you’ll see if you visit Pompeii.
Lupanar - Porn Was Lively in Pompeii Too!
Pompeii has numerous brothels, but none could compare to the Lupanar. The Lupanar is a two-story brothel; the top floor was for the owners, and the bottom floor was for the customers. Builders divided the bottom floor into five rooms with doorways that curtains close. It also has a corridor with a latrine at the end, near the staircase that leads to the living quarters of the owner.
The most prized artifact from the Lupanar is the erotic frescoes that tell what really happened inside. One fresco clearly depicts a woman on top of a man. Others depict a man caressing a woman and a pair performing the doggy style.
Ironically, Lupanar is named after the wolf goddess Lupa. I think the name doesn’t really suit the place because Lupa was never a prostitute but is literally a female dog or a bitch.
The Forum and The Nearby Baths
The Forum sits at the center of Pompeii. It is the central market square and the official venue for political gatherings of government officials. Officials conduct meetings at the northern portion of the Forum. Other remaining areas served as grounds for trading goods such as slaves, agricultural products, livestock, etc.
People living in Pompeii see the Forum as playing a pivotal role in their lives. Due to this, the Forum faces the temples of Roman gods like Jupiter and Apollo.
At present, the Forum contains ruins of the buildings that served as stores for traders. It also provides an unobstructed view of the ruined temples. It even provides a beautiful view of Mount Vesuvius that stands enigmatically from afar.
Near the Forum, just behind Jupiter’s Temple, is the Pompeii public baths. This location divides itself into two different sections; men’s section and women’s section. The walls of both sections bear carvings of naked men and women that feature perfect masculine and feminine features. As for their design, both have dressing rooms, tepidarium, frigidarium, and caldarium.
In case you don’t know, Roman’s love bathing not only because it cleans them. The baths allow them to socialize. Their purpose is somehow similar to the clubs that we have today. They go to the baths to chance on getting laid ( that’s why the brothels are there!)
Pompeii's Villa of Mysteries
Far from Pompeii’s heart and near to the Hecualaeum gate is the Villa of Mysteries. This location contains lengthy wall frescoes that speak about a cult for worshiping the god of wine Dionysus or Liber Pater (Roman formal name).
The Fresco provides an idea of what the cult of Dionysus does. A part of the wall depicts a man serving refreshment or food to a group of women; sitting comfortably and wearing a wreathe of laurels is Silenus pouring wine to an unknown figure. Nearby is a woman, holding her head out of drunkness.
Another notable element is the figure of a winged man or woman that stares at a woman resting her torso on another woman’s lap. Near them is a naked figure with her back in front showing well-shaped buttocks.
Last but not least is the figure of Dionysus elegantly sitting near his wife, Ariadne.
The frescoes in the villa mysteries teach us the center of winemaking in Pompeii. Because if not highly redeemed, why would Pompeii’s residents go to such lengths in making a cult exclusive for the worship of the god of wine?
The Stabian Baths - Ancient Rome's Oldest Baths
The Stabian Baths is another well preserved public bath in the Pompeii archeological site. You’ll immediately access this location if you use the main entrance at Via dell Abbondanza. Historians consider the Stabian as the oldest bath in ancient Rome. And just like the Forum Baths, it’s also divided into female and male sections.
This location is more eery than the Forum Baths. On the Stabian are the ash-covered remains of the people who went bathing and failed to evacuate while ash and pumice rained down. Due to the ash, the bodies became statues that clearly depict their owners’ final moments before succumbing to Mount Vesuvius’ cruelty.
The House of Faun and House of Small Fountain
Because it’s a city, numerous wealthy residents lived and built their homes in Pompeii. Sadly, the eruption left most devastated. Luckily, two residences survived the catastrophe – the House of Faun and the House of Small Fountain.
The House of Faun is one of the most expansive residences in Pompeii. It has two chief rooms, two peristyle gardens, and four dining rooms. There are four candidates for determining this house’s owner; the Cassius Family and the Satrii Family. However, other historians suspect that a Ptolemaic aristocratic family owns the House of Faun.
On the other hand, the House of Small Fountain is smaller compared to the House of Faun. Nevertheless, it’s as well preserved. It stands in one of Pompeii’s major streets. And from this, we can infer that the owner might have played an important role in the Pompeii community.
Craftsmen of our time fully restored the fountain and made the cherubs and fisherman’s statue lively again. There’s also a fresco landscape painting that bears the image of a seaside town at the walls of House of Small Fountain’s garden space.
The Agonizing Figures of the House of Fugitives
Cities tend to have criminals; Ancient Rome has them. Similarly, Pompeii isn’t exempt from this fact. Now that we established this idea, a new question arises; What happened to Pompeii’s criminals during Mount Vesuvius’s eruption?
I only have one answer. Go to the House of Fugitives, and you’ll see their sorry states.
The House of Fugitives is not actually a house. It was more like a prison for Pompeii’s criminals. During the eruption, everyone was busy fighting for dear life that no one thought about setting the criminals free so that they could live.
There are 13 bodies of statue-turned human bodies in the House of Fugitives. All are lying down but showing signs of struggle as their breathing started to fail due to Mount Vesuvius’s ash.
I didn’t look at the bodies for long because I feared that a curse might be lurking with them.
The House of Venus and The House of Sallustio
The House of Venus is a building on the Via dell Abbondanza. It’s a building that features numerous stone pillars that faces a center garden. The most attractive element of this location is the numerous frescoes of Venus and her lover, Mars.
Next is the House of Sallustio. Most tour guides state that it’s a building that served as an inn. However, I find this statement unbelievable because of the fresco of the Roman goddess Diana.
If the house of Sallustion were an inn, it would be more appropriate to make a fresco of Mercury, the god of travelers. But since Diana is on the wall, the goddess of the hunt, then the House of Sallustio might have served as a pub and resting place of hunters and mercenaries.
The Amphitheater and The Great Palestra
Finally, you should haste to see The Amphitheater and The Great Palestra. Both served as a major gathering venue for the inhabitants of Pompeii, adults and youth alike.
Other Useful Information About Pompeii
How Far is Pompeii from Naples, and How to Get There?
Pompeii is about 24 kilometers away from Naples. Riding a taxi is a viable option. However, the most efficient way to get yourself to Turkey is by riding the Circumvesuviana train or the Metropolitano train that costs 2 euros per ride.
How Long Does It Take To Finish Touring Pompeii?
If you’re with a tour guide, the tour will take about 3-4 hours. You’ll have to listen to the tour guide’s prattle about each location, and this is what makes the tour long. Another lengthening factor is that the tourist hotspots in Pompeii are far from each other, so you’ll have to engage in walking for quite some time to see them.
Consider touring by yourself if you want things to be quick. You can also opt to rent a bike so that you won’t have to walk to get from one hotspot to another. As a recommendation, consider renting a folding mobility scooter.
Is A Trip To Mount Vesuvius Part of The Pompeii Entrance Fee?
The entrance fee is limited to touring in Pompeii only. A visit to Mount Vesuvius is separate. That said, you’ll have to make another payment if you wish to explore the area of Mount Vesuvius.
By the way, you buy tickets online for 18 Euros. Don’t buy tickets at the site so that you won’t waste your day waiting with the crowd at the ticketing booth.
Will Mount Vesuvius Erupt Anytime Soon?
Since it’s the last blast in 1944, Mount Vesuvius has been keeping to itself. The volcano has been very calm during recent years. With that being said, you won’t have to worry about it while touring Pompeii. And even if Mount Vesuvius does erupt, protocols are in place to keep the safety of the tourists.
When to Visit?
From July to September, tourists flock like flies to Pompeii. Due to this, getting good angles for photoshoots or seeing the frescos without any obstructions is impossible. Consider coming from October to November. The environment might be a bit cold, but you’ll enjoy the lower ticket rates and the unobstructed photo opportunities of the hotspots in Pompeii.