Pompeii, Italy

When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, it created a time capsule of Roman life from over 1,900 years ago. Enjoy this brief tour of these fascinating ruins. Then push Pompeii towards the top of your bucket list.

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Marina Gate, the Main Entrance to Pompeii, Italy - Encircle Photos

1 Marina Gate, the Main Entrance to Pompeii, Italy

Porta Marina means Sea Gateway. This is the main entrance into Pompeii. The ancient Italian town was buried during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. A visit to the ruins is a walk through Roman life from over 1,900 years ago. You will see ruts in the cobblestone streets from the chariots, the remnants of gorgeous frescos, the iconic Forum, and plaster molds of citizens who died during the rain of pumice and ash.

Via Villa dei Misteri, 3, 80045 Pompei NA, Italy
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Two Clay Vases in Pompeii, Italy - Encircle Photos

2 Two Clay Vases in Pompeii, Italy

These are two vases uncovered by archeologists in Pompeii. Although these ceramics are plain, several others have been found with elaborate decorations. A shop which probably crafted them was also discovered nearby. It included pottery wheels, kilns and additional vases in different stages of production.

Via Marina, 80045 Pompei NA, Italy
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House along Via Marina in Pompeii, Italy - Encircle Photos

3 House along Via Marina in Pompeii, Italy

When you begin your Pompeii tour along Via Marina, it is easy to get immediately distracted by the Temple of Venus and the Basilica on your right. But as you walk along, stop to appreciate the houses but mostly the shops on your left. This home is a beautiful example of what you will see. This residence had 4,640 square feet which was very large for Pompeii. In front was a garden surrounded by a colonnade. This was called a peristyle.

Via Marina 80045 Pompei NA, Italy
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Temple of Apollo in Pompeii, Italy - Encircle Photos

4 Temple of Apollo in Pompeii, Italy

This temple along Via Marina is dedicated to Apollo, the mythological god of music and healing. It was built during the 2nd century BC and excavated in 1817. Unfortunately, its front gate was locked. However, you can still see many of the 48 fluted columns surrounding the white, travertine altar and the stairs leading up to the cella or main part of the temple.

Via Marina 80045 Pompei NA, Italy
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Mix of Columns Inside the Basilica in Pompeii, Italy - Encircle Photos

5 Mix of Columns Inside the Basilica in Pompeii, Italy

The Basilica is one of the most impressive buildings at Pompeii and the oldest in the ancient Roman civilization. The arcade in the background is part of the Forum. However, the fluted column in the foreground suggests how magnificent the Basilica must have been when it was built during the second century B.C. The rectangular, two-story building measured 213 by 79 feet. Unlike what its name suggests, a Roman basilica was primarily a public space for conducting business and legal matters. Evidence suggests the Basilica lost its roof during an earthquake in 62 AD.

Forum at Pompeii, Via Villa dei Misteri 3, 80045 Pompei NA, Italy
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Building of Eumachia at Forum in Pompeii, Italy - Encircle Photos

6 Building of Eumachia at Forum in Pompeii, Italy

During the 1st century, Eumachia was the daughter of a prominent banker named Lucius Caecilius Lucundus. She became independently wealthy on her own merits. As part of several philanthropic acts, the priestess funded this building along the eastern edge of the Forum. It was dedicated to Concordia of Augusta. The large structure housed the fuller’s guild. A fullo was a worker who either spun or washed cloth.

Forum at Pompeii, Via Villa dei Misteri 3, 80045 Pompei NA, Italy
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Temple of Vespasian at Forum in Pompeii, Italy - Encircle Photos

7 Temple of Vespasian at Forum in Pompeii, Italy

Some experts believe this temple along the eastern edge of the Forum was built to honor Vespasian. He was a Roman emperor from 69 until 79 AD. His credits include being the founder of the Flavian dynasty and the builder of the Colosseum in Rome. Others speculate this sanctuary honors Augustus. He was the founder of the Roman Empire and was its first emperor from 27 BC until 14 AD.

Forum at Pompeii, Via Villa dei Misteri 3, 80045 Pompei NA, Italy
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Temple of Jupiter at Forum in Pompeii, Italy - Encircle Photos

8 Temple of Jupiter at Forum in Pompeii, Italy

At the northern end of The Forum is the Temple of Jupiter. It was dedicated to the god of the sky and thunder plus other Roman mythological deities. The temple was also a place of worship for two other members of the Archaic Triad: Mars and Quirinus. Temple of Jupiter was initially built during the second century BC. Then it was expanded twice prior to 79 AD to a size of 121 by 56 feet supported by a colonnade. On the left is the Drusus triumphal arch.

Forum at Pompeii, Via Villa dei Misteri 3, 80045 Pompei NA, Italy
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Columns Supporting an Architrave at Forum in Pompeii, Italy - Encircle Photos

9 Columns Supporting an Architrave at Forum in Pompeii, Italy

The Forum is rectangular-shaped measuring 515 by 124 feet. Surrounding it are shops, temples and municipal offices. It was arcaded on three sides by the Samnites before the birth of Christ and was being renovated by the Romans when Mount Vesuvius erupted. Most of the columns were constructed from travertine stone. These three Doric columns supporting an architrave (the beam resting on the capitals) are located along the Forum’s western edge.

Forum at Pompeii, Via Villa dei Misteri 3, 80045 Pompei NA, Italy
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Plaster Cast of Volcano Victim in Pompeii, Italy - Encircle Photos

10 Plaster Cast of Volcano Victim in Pompeii, Italy

Mount Vesuvius violently erupted on August 24, 79 AD. A plumb of smoke soared nine to 12 miles high before falling to earth and eventually burying the city under 20 feet of ash and pumice. A large share of the 20,000 residents fled during the early stages. But then a heat blast called a pyroclastic surge slammed into the city. It exceeded 500° Fahrenheit and traveled 70 miles per hour. This is when most of the 1,600 to 2,000 people were killed. So far, 1,150 bodies have been found. For years, as the skeletons were uncovered during excavation, plaster was used to create casts of their final seconds in death. One of the most famous is this crouching mule driver. Archeologists call him the “muleteer.” He and other artifacts are on display in the Granary Market along the Forum.

Via degli Augustali & Vicolo dei Soprastanti, 80045 Pompei NA, Italy
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Marcelleum at Forum in Pompeii, Italy - Encircle Photos

11 Marcelleum at Forum in Pompeii, Italy

These three Corinthian columns comprised part of the Forum’s portico and stand at the western entrance of the Marcelleum. Inside were two dozen, single-room food stores (called a taberna) lining the north and south walls. The central courtyard was 121 by 88 feet, encircled by columns and used as a fish market. This covered marketplace dates back to the 2nd century BC.

Forum at Pompeii, Via Villa dei Misteri 3, 80045 Pompei NA, Italy
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Women’s Caldarium at Stabian Baths in Pompeii, Italy - Encircle Photos

12 Women’s Caldarium at Stabian Baths in Pompeii, Italy

Most Roman baths had separate sections for men and women. The facilities for both genders can be toured at the Stabian Baths but they are in various stages of decay. One of the better preserved is the women’s caldarium or hot room. The remnants of the red plaster, the fluted pilaster and the frieze along the cornice hint at the elaborate décor of the Terme Stabiane.

Vicolo delle Terme, 9 80045 Pompei NA, Italy
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Men’s Frigidarium at Stabian Baths in Pompeii, Italy - Encircle Photos

13 Men’s Frigidarium at Stabian Baths in Pompeii, Italy

The stages at a Roman bath were structured yet luxurious. The process began in the changing room (apodyterium), before moving to the warm room (tepidarium) and then the hot water room (caldarium). It ended here at the frigidarium which, as the name implies, is a basin of cold water. This is the men’s frigidarium at the Stabian Baths.

Vicolo delle Terme, 9 80045 Pompei NA, Italy
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Arch of Caligula Via di Mercurio in Pompeii, Italy - Encircle Photos

14 Arch of Caligula Via di Mercurio in Pompeii, Italy

Via di Mercurio is a short yet primary street running north to south in the northwestern section of Pompeii. I presume its namesake is Mercury, the Roman god of commerce. In the background, at the intersection of Via delle Terme, is the Arch of Caligula. However, some sources call this red brick structure the Arch of Tiberius, Augustus, Nero or Mercurio. It was a portal to the Tempio della Fortuna Augusta.

Via Di Mercurio & Via delle Terme, 80045 Pompei NA, Italy
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House of the Large Fountain in Pompeii, Italy - Encircle Photos

15 House of the Large Fountain in Pompeii, Italy

This ornate fountain is the artistic centerpiece of a building located along Via di Mercurio. It is appropriately named the House of the Large Fountain. The niche and facade are exquisitely decorated with a mosaic of colorful glass. Notice the two tragedy theatrical masks flanking the marble steps and the basin were water flowed. Jean Paul Getty was so impressed with this fountain that he had a replica built for the east garden of his Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, a neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

Via Di Mercurio & Vicolo di Mercurio, 80045 Pompei NA, Italy
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Tablinum Fresco at Casa della Fontana Picccola in Pompeii, Italy - Encircle Photos

16 Tablinum Fresco at Casa della Fontana Picccola in Pompeii, Italy

A tablinum is an inside garden located at the opposite end of the house’s front door. This one at Casa Della Fontana Picccola was highly decorated with colorful frescos. The structure in the center is an ornate water fountain. Notice the small bronze sculpture at its base. Archeologists believe this was a fisherman who once held a pole over the basin of water.

Vicolo Di Mercurio & Vicolo Della Fullonica, 80045 Pompei NA, Italy
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Fountain Close Up at Casa della Fontana Picccola in Pompeii, Italy - Encircle Photos

17 Fountain Close Up at Casa della Fontana Picccola in Pompeii, Italy

Casa della Fontana Picccola is appropriately named. In Eng