When you think about ancient cities some just stand out as more famous than the rest. Among these are the pretty small city of Pompeii which was just a smaller provincial city which probably would have disappeared into obscurity if it hadn’t been for the destruction which took place in 79 when Vesuvius erupted covering the small provincial Roman town in ashes temporarily erasing in from history – at least for 1½ millennium.
The area around Pompeii got populated back in 800 BC when a small Italian tribe established five towns in the area. When the Greeks arrived in the Campania area in 740 BC Pompeii were turned into a Hellenistic city with Doric temples and other Greek style buildings. A couple of hundred years later the Etruscans took over the area to be replaced by the Saminite in 450 BC finally the city became Roman in 290 when the Romans defeated the Saminite in war. And as the Roman Empire was thriving so was the provincial town of Pompeii.
The rise of the Roman Empire meant money for cities and citizen taking place in the conquest – and Pompeii got rich during the Roman conquest in the East. So the wealthy citizen of the city had the funds to build big villas and monuments in the city.
Unfortunately the city was located in a geologically pretty active area – in 62 AD a big earthquake made a lot of destruction in the city and a lot of repairs had to take place. The repairs were not fully done when the final disaster struck when Vesuvius erupted in 79. The city was covered by ashes but the buildings were not destroyed – in fact they were unintentionally protected so people today can come and enjoy the city. It is an easy place to go and visit since you can just arrive by car to the small town of modern day Pompeii and park next to the entrance or take the local train from Naples to the old Pompeii station and walk to the entrance. With fast train to and from Rome it is even a possible daytrip from Rome if you start early and get back late in the day.
The main attraction of the old town is the many frescoes which have been preserved thanks to the fact the city has been protected by the ashes for so long. In most other ancient building the decorations is in a much worth condition than here in Pompeii where you can enjoy some frescos which look almost new.
When you plan a visit you need to take into account it is pretty large and to go inside it and enjoy all the many frescoes of the ancient houses and go up and down all the ancient cobbled street will take a few hours. The city can be combined with a visit to Herculaneum another old town covered by the eruption – but closer to Naples. If you want to visit both you will have to go fairly early in the day especially during the winter months when the two places close early due to the early sunset.