Visit the ancient city of Pompeii

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Yesterday I dreamed mount Vesuvius erupted again. I was visiting Pompeii and from my hotel room could see the smoke coming out of the craters, getting bigger and bigger until covering all the sky in a dirty dust. It all felt so real, the fear, the terrifying image of the smoke covering the sky, an absolute helpless feeling that there is nothing you can do to stop it.

For me it was just a dream. But thousands of years ago for more than 10 000 people that was a horrible reality.

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If in your bucket list is to visit some of the world’s greatest ruins, to discover thousand years old cultures and enjoy stunning views of an active volcano, it’s time to visit the ancient city of Pompeii.

Once a sophisticated Roman maritime city with a population of 20 000 people, Pompeii was totally destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted 79 AD. Vesuvius had erupted dozen of times before then, but that day August 24th it exploded in one of the deadliest eruptions ever covering the region in 4-6 m (13 – 20 ft) deep volcanic ash. The eruption ejected a cloud of stones, ash and fumes to a height of 33 km (20.5) and was coming down from the volcano at 110 km/h (70 m/h). It destroyed everything in its way, the eruption lasted 24 h and Pompeii was literary erased from the map.

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The volcanic debris turned Pompeii into a time capsule preserving the city exactly as it was in 79 AD. The shape of Pomepii’s victims was captured in the final moment of their lives. The buildings, art, bodies still today continue to provide us with records of everyday life of this ancient civilization. About a third of the city is still buried and waiting to be discovered.

Just few days ago a group of French archaeologists found a pre-Roman era tomb in perfect condition. The tomb contained a number of vases and amphoras which gives us a rare insight into the funerary practices of that era in Pompeii.

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Once you enter this absolutely amazing site that’s frozen in time, it’s hard to believe how well preserved this place is. You can walk the streets and visit ancient homes, bars, public baths, taverns and brothels, all of them are almost 2000 years old. It’s incredible how rich in history this place is and walking the ruins you can imagine the lives of the people who called this place home.

Today Pompeii is Unesco World Heritage site and with about 2.5 million visitors a year it’s the 2nd most visited historical site in Italy after Roman Coliseum and one of the most visited archeological sites in the entire world. This burial site can teach us more about ancient Roman history than any history teacher or textbook. Even if the volcano’s fury destroyed Pompeii, it also preserved most of what the world knows about this ancient town.

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It’s well worth to take private guide. Pompeii once was an entire city and the current site is vast. If you have enough time, you can study the history and walk around on your own, but if you are limited in time, the guide will show you the most important places and tell you the stories you won’t find in books.

How to get there:

Located in Campania region, Italy it’s easy to access from major cities like Rome or Naples. Depending on how much of a history fan you are, you can make in an all day visit or spend at least few hours visiting the most important and amazing ruins of ancient Roman history. Pompeii is quite easy to reach by train, bus or car from the major cities like Rome (2.5h drive), Naples (30 min drive) and Florence (4.5h drive).

Tips:

Pompeii can get very hot in the summer month and has not a lot of shade. Bring a hat, sunscreen and plenty of water. Since the cafes and stores close by are not the best examples of Italian cuisine, bring your own snacks.

 Tickets:

Single day ticket 11€. Your ticket price includes a map and a small pocket guide. If you are ER citizen under age of 18, entrance is free. More information on the opening hours here

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Experts believe another devastating Vesuvius eruptions might be coming. Today it’s regarded as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because of the population of 3 000 000 living nearby and its tendency to towards explosive eruptions. The last eruption was in 1944, and it’s only a matter of when, not if, it will erupt again.

Have you been to Pompeii yet?

 

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