Pompeii was an ancient town in Italy. Along with some other surrounding towns, it was destroyed and buried under volcanic ash in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Pompeii was re-discovered in 18th century by excavation. Today the ruins of Pompeii is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy.
In the year 2013, I had a chance to visit this interesting place with two of my colleagues. My experience and feelings about this place is hard to describe in words. In my life, I have visited many ruins of historical importance, but it wasn’t just a handful of ruins, but an entire city, miles from one end to the other, that was buried under dozens of feet of ash. All the inhabitants of the town died instantly !
I arrived at the nearest railway station of the Pompeii-ruins, known as ‘Pompei Scavi’, on a bright and warm day in April 2013.
The main site was a few minutes walking distance from the station. We got a map of the whole site from the reception counter at the entrance of the site. There were innumerable things to see there – ruins of several temples, some municipal buildings, a lot of bars and restaurants, few bath-houses, markets and all other things that a town can have.
We saw the body-casts of some of the human victims who were frozen to the posture in which they died.
Then, one after another, we came across several ruined structures. We did not hire any guide, so we could not immediately understand which ruined structure happened to be what, 2000 years ago. The map and the little description on it helped us to some extent. I was so moved after visiting Pompeii, that after coming back home I used to google and read about the fateful town. In course of doing that, I found accurate details about the ruins of Pompeii in this website. This is still bookmarked in my laptop.
Pompeii was a huge town, and it was almost impossible to explore every corner of it by foot in few hours. However, we could see a significant part of it. We came across the macellum (market) of Pompeii, which was one of the focal points of the ancient town.
In the temple of Apollo, there is a bronze sculpture of goddess Diana. This statue is a replica of the original one, which is now in the National Archeological Museum of Naples.
We saw a colorful fresco (left picture below) in the ruins of a thermopolium (restaurant). We also came across some erotic paintings and graffiti inside a building which was a brothel in ancient Pompeii. One of the paintings is shown here (right picture below).
Mt. Vesuvius could always be seen in the background of the ruins. The destructor overlooking the destructions… Mt. Vesuvius is still active and it is regarded as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because of the large population of people living nearby and the tendency of the volcano towards explosive (Plinian) eruptions.
We came across numerous intricately designed pillars and statues. The carvings on the walls of some buildings were also very rich.
We were amazed to see the amphitheatre of Pompeii which was pretty big in size. The structure was very simple and represents an example of the earliest style of amphitheatre.
We continued to explore the ruins, walking through the streets. We saw some beautiful pillars and wonderful arches.
We also saw the ruins of some of the bars and restaurants of the town. Some terracotta pots (below left figure) were found in the excavation which were most probably used to store food in ancient Pompeii. We came across some round shaped earthenware jars called ‘dolia’ (below right picture) underneath the counters of the bars. These probably contained food and drink.
Public baths were an important part of Pompeii life. We came across a forum bath which had a changing room, a hot bath room and a cold bath room. Inner walls of the forum bath were ornately carved. Below, I give two pictures of the ruined forum bath that we visited.
After roaming around for about four hours, we were completely exhausted and we had to stop. We bid goodbye to Pompeii, with a wish to come back again.
And the walls kept tumbling down
In the city that we love
Great clouds roll over the hills
Bringing darkness from above
But if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
Nothing changed at all?