The ruined city of Pompeii at the foot of Mount Vesuvius is like a Shakespearean tragedy.
It is sad yet beautiful.
In AD 79, Mount Vesuvius erupted and covered the city of Pompeii under six meters of ash and pumice stone, preserving it for eternity.
The ruined city remained hidden until a surveying engineer found it in 1748.
Over several centuries, archeologists have evacuated the ruins and shown the world how the 20,000 residents of Pompeii lived.
More than 2.5 million tourists visit Pompeii annually, making it one of the most popular attractions in Italy.
Pompeii excavations are spread over 60+ hectares (170 acres), and you need at least two days to explore it all.
This is why most visitors try to focus on the highlights of Pompeii and finish the tour in three to four hours.
We share our list of the star attractions that every visitor to Pompeii must explore.
Table of contents
Villa of the Mysteries
Also known as Villa dei Misteri, this is a Roman villa from the 2nd century BCE. It is richly decorated with frescoes, whose meaning archaeologists are still trying to figure out.
House of the Faun
Also known as Casa del Fauno, this is the ruin of a luxury Roman 2nd-century dwelling. It has a replica bronze faun statue welcoming the tourists, hence the name.
This was the most extensive and most expensive residence in ancient Pompeii.
Amphitheatre of Pompeii
This is an ancient Roman arena for gladiator fights. It has a seating capacity of 20,000. This is the oldest stadium built with stone, still in existence – much older than the Colosseum in Rome.
Visual Story: 13 must-know tips before visiting Pompeii
Lupanar is Latin for ‘brothel.’ Needless to say, this was the grandest of all brothels in Pompeii, and the city was known to have more than 50 of them.
This brothel interests the tourists more because of the erotic paintings on its walls.
If you plan to visit the best-preserved ruins in the world, read up on the different types of Pompeii tickets.
Pompeii Thermal Baths
Pompeii ruins have five public thermal baths. Each thermal bath building is divided into two sections – for women and men.
Tourists love to see the ingenious way these bathrooms were heated: by running heated water through the cavities in the wall.
Garden of the Fugitives
The largest number of victims of Vesuvius’ eruption were found at this site.
This spot was once an ancient orchard. Now, 13 bodies of Pompeii residents who couldn’t flee the deadly volcanic dust and rocks remain there as a stark reminder of nature’s fury.
Garden of the Fugitives is a frozen glimpse of Pompeii’s appalling last hours.
House of Vetti
The House of the Vettii is one of the many Domus in Pompeii. A Domus is a massive house occupied by the Roman upper classes.
During your Pompeii tour, you must visit this attraction for its richly colored frescos.
Tip: Herculaneum is known to have better frescos than Pompeii, which is why some tourists visit both Herculaneum and Pompeii on the same day.
House of the Tragic Poet
The House of Tragic Poet is a Pompeiian home dating back to the 2nd century BC. It features sufficient ornamental detail, depicting scenes from Greek mythology.
The interior decoration in this house is of the best quality in the whole of Pompeii.
House of the surgeon
This house in the Pompeii ruins belonged to a surgeon.
It has ancient surgical instruments displayed inside and is quite popular with tourists visiting Pompeii.
Temple of Apollo
The Temple of Apollo is a 6th-century BC temple dedicated to the Greek and Roman God Apollo.
Temple of Jupiter
The Temple of Jupiter was built around the 2nd century BC.
This ancient stone temple has columns in ruins and a statue of Jupiter God for all to see.
House of Sallust
The House of Sallust is the second Domus you must visit. The oldest parts of this house date to the 4th century BC.
This house gets its name from the election notice, which was also excavated with the house. The election notice recommended a gentleman called Gaius Sallustius for office.
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