Tour of Pompeii
The main entrance to the site of Pompeii (open daily) is near the Pompeii-Villa dei Misteri railroad station. 300m/330yd from the entrance is the Porta Marina, the ancient gate at the southwest corner of the town.
Immediately beyond the gate, on the right, is the Antiquarium, containing excavated material from Pompeii dating from the pre-Samnite period to Roman times. Particularly impressive are the casts of human bodies and of a dog found buried under the ashes.
Beyond the Antiquarium in Pompeii, is the Basilica, used as a market and a law-court. To the left is the Temple of Apollo, surrounded by 48 Ionic columns. Beyond these two buildings is the Forum, the principal square of the Roman town, which was enclosed by colonnades. At the north end of the forum is the Temple of Jupiter, on a base 3m/10ft high. At the northeast corner is the Macellum, a hall for the sale of foodstuffs. Down the east side are the Shrine of the Lares, the Temple of Vespasian (probably dedicated originally to Augustus) and the Building of Eumachia, probably a hall for the sale of wool. On the south side of the forum is the Curia, the meeting-place of the town council, flanked by three other rooms.
Beyond the forum the Via dell'Abbondanza, one of the principal streets of the ancient town, continues east, to the right of the Building of Eumachia, towards the new excavations. The second street on the right (Via dei Teatri) leads to the tree-shaded Triangular Forum, intended mainly for theater-goers, which is entered through a fine arcade. On the south side of this little square are the remains of a Greek temple; facing this, to the east, are barracks for gladiators.
Adjoining the northern half of the Triangular Forum, built into the sloping ground, is the Large Theater (Teatro Grande), which could seat some 5,000 spectators and is now used for "Son et lumière" shows in summer. From the top row there are fine views.
Adjoining the Large Theater in Pompeii the better preserved Little Theater (Teatro Piccolo), the earliest example of a roofed Roman theater (c. 75 B.C.); with seating for 1,500, was used mainly for musical performances.
On the east side of the Little Theater is the Via Stabiana, which runs northwest. Immediately on the left is the little Tempio di Giove Meilichio. To the west of this, in the Via del Tempio d'Iside, the Temple of Isis has an inscription scratched on its walls by the French novelist Stendhal (Henri Beyle) during a visit in 1817. Beyond this, on the east side of the Via Stabiana, is the Casa del Citarista, one of the largest houses in Pompeii. Just beyond this the Via Stabiana joins the Via dell'Abbondanza.
100m/110yd along the Via dell'Abbondanza to the right is the beginning of the New Excavations (Nuovi Scavi), in which wall paintings and furniture have been left in place and in many cases the upper story with its balconies and loggias has been preserved by the insertion of girders. In this area there are many election "posters" and other casual inscriptions painted on the walls, with the help of which the former director of excavations, Della Corte, was able to compile a "directory" containing 550 names. This part of the town dates from Pompeii's final period and was mostly occupied by tradesmen. Among the establishments to be seen here are an ironmonger's shop; beyond this to the right a fuller's and dyer's workshop (Fullonica di Stefano), with two restored pressing machines; and beyond this, to the south, the House with the Cryptoporticus, with a magnificent painted frieze (in a passage leading to the cellar) depicting 20 episodes from the "Iliad" and other Homeric poems.
House of Menander
South of Nuovi Scavi is the large and well-preserved House of Menander which belonged to a wealthy merchant; it was named after a likeness of the Greek comic playwright Menander in a niche in the magnificent peristylium. Adjoining this is the charming little House of the Lovers.Farther along the Via dell'Abbondanza, on the left, is the Thermopolium, a tavern fully equipped with drinking vessels, a kettle, a stove and a lamp, with the last customer's money still on the counter. Beyond this, on the left, is the interesting House of Trebius Valens, the front wall of which is covered with inscriptions; and beyond this again, on the right, is the rich House of Marcus Loreius Tiburtinus, with a restored double door and an interesting interior.
Painting of Venus
To the south of the Via dell'Abbondanza, are the most recent excavations (1951-59). Of particular interest in this area are the House of Venus (Casa della Venere), with a fine painting of Venus; the House of the Orchard (Casa del Frutteto); and the Villa di Giulia Felice.
Outside the Porta di Nocera, we come to a necropolis (cemetery), such as lay outside the walls of all ancient towns.
South of the House of Marcus Loreius Tiburtinus is the Palaestra, with colonnades round three sides (each 140m/154yd long) and a swimming pool in the center.
At the corner of the Via dell'Abbondanza and the Via Stabiana are the Stabian Baths (Terme Stabiana), the largest and best-preserved baths in Pompeii (entrance from Via dell'Abbondanza). The entrance leads into the colonnaded palaestra, with a swimming pool on the left; on the right are the male and female baths, separated by the stoves for heating the water. Each establishment has a circular cold bath (frigidarium), a changing room (apodyterium) with racks for clothing, a warm bath (tepidarium) and a hot (Turkish) bath (caldarium) heated by air-ducts in the floor and walls.
Immediately north of the baths is the House of Siricus (entrance from Vicolo del Lupanare); next door is a bakery. On the threshold is the inscription "Salve lucrum" ("Long live profit!"); fine paintings in the interior. Farther along the Via Stabiana, on the right, is the House of Marcus Lucretius, also with well-preserved paintings. In another 100m/110yd the Via Stabiana crosses the Via di Nola, one of the principal streets of the town, and 100m/110yd farther on again comes to an intersection at which the Vicolo delle Nozze d'Argento (on the right) leads to the House of the Silver Wedding (fine atrium and peristylium) and the Vicolo di Mercurio (on the left) leads past the House of the Vettii to the House of Sallust.
House of the Gilded Cupids
Along the Via Stabiana, also called the Via del Vesuvio in its northern section, is the elegant House of the Gilded Cupids (Casa degli Amorini dorati), with a garden which still preserves its original marble decoration. The Via Stabiana ends at the Porta del Vesuvio; from the hill outside the gate there is a fine view.
House of the Vettii
The very interesting House of the Vettii in the Vicolo di Mercurio has well-preserved ornamental paintings and fine frescoes in the triclinium. The peristylium (partly rebuilt) still has its original marble decoration and has been replanted. The kitchen still contains its cooking utensils.Southwest of the House of the Vettii is the House of the Labyrinth (Casa del Labirinto), with two atria.
House of the Faun
Opposite the House of the Vettii, to the south, is the House of the Faun (Casa del Fauno; entrance from the Via di Nola), the most palatial mansion in Pompeii, taking up a whole insula (80 x 35m/88 x 38yd). By the impluvium is a copy of the statuette of a faun which was discovered here. The famous mosaic of "Alexander's Battle" was found in the room with red columns.
In the Via delle Terme, the westerly continuation of the Via di Nola (the western part of which is also called the Via di Fortuna), are the Forum Baths (Terme del Foro), smaller and more modest than the Stabian Baths but also occupying a whole insula.
House of the Tragic Poet
To the north of the Baths is the elegant and richly appointed House of the Tragic Poet (Casa del Poeta tragico), on the threshold of which is a mosaic of a chained dog with the inscription "Cave canem" ("Beware of the dog").
House of Pansa
Adjoining the House of the Tragic Poet on the west is the House of Pansa (98 x 38m/107 x 42yd), one of the largest and most regularly planned houses in Pompeii.
House of Sallust
On the north side of the House of the Tragic Poet is a fuller's workshop, to the left of which are the House of the Large Fountain and the House of the Small Fountain, with the beautiful fountains after which they are named. From the latter house the Vicolo di Mercurio runs west to the House of Sallust, where can be seen good paintings. From here Via Consolare runs northwest to the Porta Ercolano, which probably dates from the Augustan period.
Map of Pompeii Attractions