There is something utterly fascinating but equally poignant about Pompeii that can leave you emotionally moved the first time you visit. Pompeii is a true testimony to the devastating tragedies that nature can deliver and often without adequate warning enough for humans to make their escape from its wrath.
It’s a well-known fact that Pompeii, an ancient Roman settlement near Naples in southwest Italy, was destroyed by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The historic eruption is believed to have lasted for two days. While many of the city’s inhabitants did manage to flee, many did not and were consequently suffocated by the clouds of volcanic ash.
The archeological remains of Pompeii cover an extensive area that, for ease of exploration, has been divided into nine individual regions. There are also sites to visit outside of the designated regions, so knowing where to start when you get there and what’s where is vital to make sure you don’t miss a thing.
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The Regions Of Pompeii And What They Contain
To explore the ruins of Pompeii properly, you’ll need to have a guide map. You can download an up-to-date map from the official website in various formats. It’s good to have the most recent edition as it will show you which houses or parts of the ruins are closed or undergoing maintenance.
When you’re there, it’s a good idea to start in Region I and work your way around in a clockwise direction. Do that, and you’ll have less chance of missing something.
Region One contains 20 different sites, most of which are homes. While they’re all noteworthy, the ones not to miss checking out in-depth are:
- The Garden of Fugitives where you’ll find the casts of 13 victims who were trying to flee through a gate in the garden wall when they were overcome by fumes.
- The House of the Lovers with its intact columned walls surrounding a courtyard and its romantic graffiti.
- The Fullery of Stephanus that served as a laundry and still has the complete bath where the washing was done in the center of the room.
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There are a few visitable houses in this section, but the majority of space is given over to what would have been public gardens. The most outstanding feature here is the amphitheater which would have held around 20,000 people. It’s a magnificent example and the largest of its kind.
This is one of the smaller sections and contains a necropolis, what would have been a military academy, and a house where people went to learn the etiquette and rules of Roman society.
This region is currently not open for public viewing as the digs are still in progress.
In this expansive section, you’ll find the Gladiators Barracks, where the gladiators lived and underwent their strenuous training. There are several houses in this section too, but only one, the House of Leda and the Swan, which contains an intact mural, is open for viewing, along with the Thermopolium, which would have served as a Roman eatery.
This area of Pompeii contains 22 houses and villas. The most outstanding are:
- The Villa of Mysteries, the walls of which are covered in intricate murals.
- The House of the Faun, which is the largest house in Pompeii and contains several floor mosaics.
- An outdoor Thermopolium complete with seating and fire pits where the food would have been cooked.
- The magnificent House of the Golden Cupids, which was the elegant home of relatives of the Emperor Nero.
While there are a few houses in this section, most space here is given over to temples, sanctuaries with sacrificial altars, and public baths. Not to be missed are:
- The Sanctuary of Apollo, with its columns and statues.
- The Sanctuary of the Public Lares, with what would have been a central altar.
- The Lupanar, which was a brothel and has murals on the wall to match the occupation carried out there.
- The Temple of Jupiter, with its statues of Roman gods.
Region eight is also mostly dedicated to temples and sanctuaries. It’s in this section that you’ll also find the Antiquarium, which is a construction dating from the 19th century that now houses the visitor center.
By the time you’ve done the rounds and arrived in region nine of Pompeii, you’ll be starting to get tired, be feeling overly warm, and probably a little sunburnt if you didn’t slather on a high SPF lotion.
This is a small section, though, so it doesn’t take long to investigate, and then you can wander off, find somewhere shady, and have a well-earned refreshing drink. If you didn’t take anything with you, you’ll find a refreshment stand in region VII behind the Temple of Jupiter.
When Can You Visit Pompeii
Pompeii is open to the public all year round, although times do vary depending on the season. From the 1st of April to the 31st of October you can be there from 9 am until 7 pm. The last entrance is at 5:30 pm, but that’s leaving it far too late to be able to see Pompeii properly.
From the 1st of November to the 31st of March, opening times are shorter. You can visit from 9 am until only 5 pm, and the last entrance during the winter season is at 3:30 pm.
Pompeii is truly a magnificent relic of bygone days. Once you start to walk its streets, you’ll begin to understand what it might have been like to live in Roman times. One word of advice – always make sure you’re aware of the quickest way out. Mount Vesuvius hasn’t blown its top in quite a while, but as you may well know, history sometimes has a habit of repeating itself.