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You will pass through Porta Marina, which is very close to the motorway exit and the railway station, to enter the excavations of Pompeii; there is also another entrance near the amphitheater. I suggest grabbing a map to orient yourself as well as to avoid missing the most important areas and buildings. In the first part of the path you'll be able to enjoy the fresh and beautiful Mediterranean vegetation, but keep in mind that in the ancient city you won't find any cool shade to rest under, so make sure you bring plenty of water!

Even before the Roman conquest, Pompeii was divided into nine zones by two  east-west streets called "decumani" and two transverse, north-south streets called "cardi". Each area roughly corresponded to a neighborhood. There were hotels and animal stalls near the gates of the city and around the forum, as well as several inns that you can still recognize today on the main streets.

Entering from Porta Marina, go down the street with the same name and pass by the remains of the Temple of Venus to reach the Forum: the large rectangular square that was the commercial and administrative center of Pompeii. Just think, the Forum was so large that it could hold all the inhabitants of the city.

You should imagine a large portico around the square with Doric style columns, and a complex of public buildings such as the administrative offices, the "comitium" where elections took place, and the "basilica", which was not a church but the place where justice was administered. Each of these buildings had a façade that was rich in marble decorations and statues.

At the center of the opposite side of the square, the Temple of Jupiter stood on a tall podium; the Temple was accessed from a double staircase. The portico that preceded the interior was called the "pronaos" and was very large, while the inner space called the "cella" was surrounded by two rows of columns with the characteristic niches at the back meant for the three major divinities: Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, the so-called "Capitoline Triad".

Built around 150 BC, perhaps over a former Etruscan temple, with the advent of the Roman republic this temple became the main sacred building of Pompeii.


FUN FACT: each Pompeii building had sloping roofs that sent rainwater to a cistern that was usually located in an atrium or courtyard. A deviation of the Augustan aqueduct brought this water to the thermal baths, public fountains, and the homes of the richest citizens.

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