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Most visitors to Pompeii enter via the Marine (or Marina) Gate,
one of several portals to the city. The gates were named according
to where they would lead you. For instance, the Marina Gate faced
the sea, while the Vesuvio Gate faced Mt Vesuvius.
Not on the map, this unidentified street typifies those in
Pompeii, with excavated ruins on either side, and a well-preserved
Roman stone road, which would have been fairly heavily filled with
household waste during its lifetime.
Overlooking the ruins of the Temple of Apollo and the Forum
beyond it, Pompeii lies under dark skies in this view towards the
The Forum, the central public space for most Roman cities and
still to be found in Italy in the form of a piazza, can be accessed
via an archway.
In the grassy area of the Forum (Foro) itself, Mount Vesuvius
looms threateningly in the background behind the ruins of the Temple
of Jupiter (Tempio di Giove) at the Forum's northern end, which was
built during the second century BC. The Marcellum, a covered market
used for the sale of food, is on the right.
The road leading from the forum to the northern walls of the
city has two arches. The first, to the east of the Temple of
Jupiter, is the Honorary Arch, dedicated to Nero.
Passing under the first leads to the second, which is the Arch
of Caligula, facing the city's main road, the Via della Fortuna, and
which still looks very impressive and well-preserved.
A little way north of the Forum lie the remains of a typical
bakery on the Via della Terme.
Further along is the House of Faun, built at the height of the
Samnite civilisation and considered the most beautiful example of a
private house from ancient times because of its size, decorations,
and architectural importance. This house provides an incredible
example of mosaic art which includes the Battle of Alexander The
Great, and Darius, which is now in the National Museum of Naples.
The House of the Vettii (the Bachelor Brothers) best illustrates
the wealth of the merchants who lived during the last ten years of
Pompeii's existence. Great wealth is shown by the luxurious wall
decorations and in the layout of the garden.
The Villa of Mysteries, built around a central peristyle court
and surrounded by terraces, is much like other large villas at
Pompeii. However, it contains one very unusual feature; a room
decorated with beautiful and strange scenes.
This room, known to us as the "The Initiation Chamber," measures
15 by 25 feet (4.5m by 7.62m) and is located in the front right
portion of the villa.
In the room of the Large Painting a cycle of frescoes was
dedicated to the Dionysiac ceremonies. The frescoes, known as "trompe
l'oeil," were created in the Second Style.
Heading back into the city, the Forum Baths were excavated in
1823, and are located at the intersection of the Via della Foro and
the Via di Nola. The baths had a communal central heating plant and
were divided into two sections, one each for males and females.
The Temple of Isis is the best preserved temple in Pompeii. It
is pre-Roman and was almost entirely rebuilt after the earthquake of
AD 62 at the expense of Popidius Celsinus. An inscription above the
door mentions that he was only six years old when he was elected
decurion. The sacred water of the Nile was kept in an underground
passage. A large room used as a meeting room for the initiates of
Isis is behind the temple.
Immediately south of the Temple of Isis, the Large Theatre
amphitheatre possessed a good audience capacity, and lay next to the
The view from the top of the large theatre overlooks the
The Gladiator Barracks (Quadriportico), lying on the southern
edge of Pompeii, was only altered to become such after AD 62, having
previously been an arcaded court. Weapons were discovered in at
least ten rooms, some of which were quite splendid and were
undoubtedly intended to be used on parade.
This painting, a mural from Pompeii, is believed to be based on
Apelles' Venus Anadyomene, brought to Rome by Augustus. It is
considered to be the most famous painting in all of Pompeii, being
situated in the "House of Venus."
This is the Palaestra Grande, which like many buildings in
Pompeii - and to an even greater degree neighbouring Herculaneum -
is in a poor state of repair, with funds not being available to
maintain it properly. The situation is becoming more and more
At the city's south-eastern corner is the entrance to the
amphitheatre, which was the first Roman stone amphitheatre, built
around 80 BC, probably soon after Sulla imposed a colonia on
the ancient city. It was called spectacula by its builders.
This passageway leads into the amphitheatre which seated around
20,000 people. It was closed by the Senate in AD 59 after a riot...
Tacitus, in Annals 14.17 reports: "About the same time a
trifling beginning led to frightful bloodshed between the
inhabitants of Nuceria and Pompeii, at a gladiatorial show exhibited
by Livineius Regulus, who had been... expelled from the Senate. With
the unruly spirit of townsfolk, they began with abusive language of
each other; then they took up stones and at last weapons, the
advantage resting with the populace of Pompeii, where the show was
Finally, not to be forgotten are the human victims of Vesuvius'
eruption: an estimated 2,000 of the city's 20,000 inhabitants. This
male victim perished where he fell. Notice his skull and teeth still
in a near-perfect condition.