Once home to 20, 000 people, this town was preserved for two millennia by the lava from Mount Vesuvius and now offers a fascinating glimpse into ancient Roman life.

Wander through the streets of Pompeii where time stopped nearly 2,000 years ago and has not begun again since. Mosaics and frescoes remain half finished, while the houses, shops and temples that were buried in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79 attest to the preservative powers of pyroclastic flow.

Excavations started on the site of Pompeii in 1748, but it was over a century before the project was begun on a large scale. Now the site is one of the largest and most interesting ancient ruins in the world.

You enter Pompeii in the same way that ancient Romans once would have, through the arching brickwork of the Porta Marina. From here, make your way toward the Forum, a large town square with great views of Mount Vesuvius and skirted by several impressive two-story buildings. Also around the square you’ll see several columns where the Temple of Jupiter once stood, as well as the facade of the old city hall.

There are six bathhouses in Pompeii, but the Forum Baths are the best preserved. Numerous other public buildings, including more than 40 bakeries and 130 bars and restaurants, are dotted throughout town.

Pompeii was not an especially rich town, but some of the most impressive houses are those that belonged to its wealthier residents. The House of Vettii is the best preserved and features impressive frescoes and mosaics. Also worth a visit are the House of the Faun, with its famous bronze statue of a dancing faun, and the House of the Tragic Poet.

A trip from Naples to Pompeii can easily fill a day. To get there, take the Circumvesuviana line from Naples toward Sorrento. The town is open daily throughout the year and there is a charge for entry. If you want to explore other excavations in the area, such as Herculaneum, a three-day pass offers entry at a discounted rate.

Guide to Exploring Pompei

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