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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 east.
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
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
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 4.5m by 7.62m (15 by 25 feet)
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 in style 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 lies behind the temple.
Immediately south of the Temple of Isis,
the Large Theatre amphitheatre possessed a good audience
capacity, and lay next to the Little Theatre.
The view from the top of the large theatre
overlooks the Gladiator Barracks.
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
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 urgent.
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 two thousand of the city's 20,000
inhabitants. This male victim perished where he fell. Notice his skull
and teeth - preserved in near-perfect condition.