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Your In-Depth Guide To The Pompeii Archaeological Park

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by GoWithGuide travel specialist:Pia V.

Last updated : May 21, 20247 min read

Things To Do

The ancient ruins of Pompeii are at the top of many a traveler's bucket list. The shocking history, well-preserved structures, and fascinating stories the city holds attract millions of visitors on a yearly basis.

 

This article will provide you with all the need-to-know information before visiting the Archaeological Park of Pompeii. For the most immersive and informative experience, connect with one of our local guides to arrange a private tour of these iconic ruins.

History

 

The settlement is truly ancient, with its roots thought to go back to at least 450 BCE. While several groups claimed ownership in the past, Pompeii is most famous as a Roman city. In its heyday, it was home to some 12,000 people, but as we all know this came to a tragic end in 79 CE when Mount Vesuvius erupted and covered this bustling city under several meters of volcanic ash. There is a tiny sliver of hope as only around 1,100 bodies have been discovered in the ruins, meaning most inhabitants of Pompeii are thought to have been able to escape the destruction. 

 

The ash preserved the city to a remarkable extent, making it one of the most impressive archaeological sites found anywhere in the world. The Archaeological Park of Pompeii offers a fascinating glimpse at life in ancient Rome, with the whole city frozen at the moment Vesuvius erupted nearly 2,000 years ago.

 

The ruins of Pompeii weren't discovered until the 1700s. The excavation was a slow process, with the last major excavations taking place as late as the 1950s. Though researchers are now mainly focused on reconstruction and preservation, new discoveries have been made as recently as 2018 when researchers discovered the remains of a horse still wearing its harness close to the Villa of the Mysteries.

 

Pompeii was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, and today it is one of the most visited attractions in Italy, receiving around 2.5 million visitors every year.

 

Know Before You Go 

 

The archaeological park is open throughout the year, with the only exceptions being special holidays such as New Year, May Day, and Christmas. During summer (April to October), the park is open between 9 am and 6 pm. Note that 6 pm is the last time to enter the park, while visiting times last until 7:30 pm. During winter, the park is open from 9 am to 3:30 pm when the ticket office closes, with visiting times lasting until 5 pm.

 

If possible, try to plan your visit for winter, when the park is considerably less crowded compared to the summer months. Similarly, it's best to arrive at the park first thing in the morning, right when the park opens. 

 

The entrance ticket costs around €16 per adult, with reduced fares available for EU citizens between the ages of 18–24. Children under the age of 18 can enter the park free of charge, but will still require their own ticket. You can purchase a ticket on site at the ticket office or in advance online. Most online tickets will still need to be exchanged on site using special fast lanes by the entrance. Entrance to the Archaeological Park of Pompeii is free on the first Sunday of the month. 

 

The sheer size of the archaeological park takes most visitors by surprise. As a result, most people end up spending more time in Pompeii than they originally planned, the city is estimated to have covered between 64 and 67 hectares of land after all. Seeing how well the city was preserved under the volcanic ash, there are also many landmarks to see here. In other words, make sure you have enough time (and energy) to take it all in! Plan to spend at least five hours touring the park - and really, that is the minimum.

 

Most people visit Pompeii during the summer months, but it can get very hot (30°C or 85F is typical from June to August), so remember to dress accordingly and wear plenty of sunscreen. It's important to stay hydrated too, so be sure to bring your own water bottle, which you can fill up at the water taps provided on site. 

 

Must-See Attractions

Forum

The forum was the main town square of Pompeii, a lively plaza lined with many of the most notable buildings in the city. Take your time absorbing the ambiance before visiting the structures lining the forum, including the baths and the temples dedicated to Apollo and Jupiter.

Amphitheater

Pompeii's amphitheater gives you a real sense of the grandeur of the ancient city. This large stadium was once used for all sorts of entertainment, including actual gladiatorial fights, as demonstrated by the painted posters on the walls. This is also one of the oldest surviving amphitheaters of its kind.

Lupanar

The Lupanar is an ancient brothel which has become one of Pompeii's most visited landmarks. The building is most notable for the erotic paintings and scandalous graffiti which still decorate its stone walls. 

Villa of the Mysteries

This well-preserved building gives you a glimpse into life in an affluent Roman home. While the villa itself is remarkably well-preserved, it is most famous for the paintings for which it was named after. The frescoes show a young woman undergoing initiation rites, some scholars interpreting these as marriage rites, while others contend they are an initiation into a religious cult.

The Garden of the Fugitives

While all the landmarks found in Pompeii will give you a fascinating snapshot into life in Roman times, few will give you a sense of the destruction caused by the volcanic eruption quite like the Garden of the Fugitives. This is where you will find the plaster cast forms of 13 victims, each eternally frozen in the position they were in when the city became covered in ash.

 

Conclusion

 

The Archaeological Park of Pompeii is a source of endless fascination. It is an unforgettable experience to be able to walk the streets, visit the homes, and even witness the forms of the people who lived in this ancient city almost 2,000 years ago. A visit to Pompeii definitely deserves top billing on any Italian itinerary. 

 

If you want to have a truly immersive experience at this UNESCO protected attraction, consider booking an in-depth tour with a local guide. A professional guide can point out all the most important landmarks, introduce you to hidden gems, and help you plan your visit in a way that minimizes time being lost in the crowds. Connect with our guides to start planning your visit today!

Campania Tour Guide - Roberta A.

Roberta A.

5.00 / 5
(1 reviews)
Italy

I've been a tour guide for 8 years, I graduated at the University of Naples Federico II in Archaeology and History of Art in 2015, then I passed the exam to get the licence as a guide, I love my region and my job !                                                                                                                                 

Herculaneum Tour Guide - Maria S.

Maria S.

5.00 / 5
(1 reviews)
Italy

I am a qualified tourist guide and I have been working for many years with several customers coming to Italy on private or group tours. I speak fluently English, French, Japanese and Spanish, I also speak German at an intermediate level. I am interested in supplying tours in my area, the Campania region. I offer guided tours of Pompeii and Herculaneum and many other achaeological areas, as well as city tours in the town of Naples, Caserta, Salerno, Benevento and Avellino. I also offer tours to museums, churches, galleries, castles, royal palaces and to natural spots like Capri island, Ischia island or Procida island and the Amalfi coast. I would be really happy to join your group as I noticed that your system offers different opportunities to share the most interesting tours and activities. I thank you so much and I look forward to hear from you.                                                                                                                                 

Naples Tour Guide - Barbara D.

Barbara D.

Italy

Hello, My name is Barbara. I am a licensed tour guide and I have been working as tour guide since 2005. I live in a wonderful area, famous for natural beauty, history art and archeology. A unique place that offer so many options to the tourist who choose to visit it. I have a education background in Art and archeology but I believe my best skill is making every tour a unique experience for my clients, I always listen their needs and desire and always try to outdo their expectations. I love meet people from all over the world, I love sharing my passion for my city with them. Naples for his history is a little different from the others Italian city. A hidden gem that deserve to be known. Join me in a tour around my city. A presto Barbara                                                                                                                                  

Campania Tour Guide - Anna maria  C.

Anna maria C.

Italy

Hi, I'm a local Expert and already work with clients from all over the world driving my guests to the most visited places like Pompeii, Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, Naples and much more. Me and my team have been working with guides for more than 12 years. My team and I take people from all over the world around our beautiful region, showing them the most hidden places and giving them lots of information on how the locals live. We bring you into contact with locals, like us, to immerse you in authentic culture.                                                                                                                                  

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