Ancient Pompeii is one of the most important sights in the world. The ancient city was completely buried during the eruption of the volcano Vesuvius in 79 AD (after christ). In the last centuries archaeologists have excavated large parts of the city. Many things like houses, streets, shops, pictures, statues and even the bodies of the former inhabitants are very well preserved. You can see all this today. For many tourists this is the big highlight of their holiday.
Today's Pompei is a small town with about 25,000 inhabitants. Many inhabitants live from tourism. Almost all visitors come to Pompei to visit the ancient excavation site.
Both spellings Pompeii and Pompei are exist in English. More often the ancient city is written Pompeii, the modern small town Pompei. In Italian there is only the spelling "Pompei", the ancient city can also be called Pompei antica.
Opening hours Pompeii 2018
The ancient city of Pompeii is fenced and can only be visited with a ticket. The sight is open almost every day of the year. Normal opening hours are 8:30 to 19:30. From November to March opening hours are only to 17:30.
Not open is the sight only 3 days in the year: These are New Year (1.1), Labour Day (1.5.) and Christmas (25.12.).
Some rules for visiting Pompeii
Dogs: You can't take big dogs with you, small dogs are ok according to an employee. But you have to keep the small dogs on a leash everywhere and take them on your arms in the buildings. Caution: According to many tourists, there are wild dogs in Pompei that are sometimes said to be aggressive. This apparently applies especially to the less visited areas of the huge excavation.
Luggage: Suitcases or backpacks are not allowed. This is probably due to fear of terrorist attacks. This applies to bags and other pieces of luggage larger than 30 x 15 x 15 cm. That is not much. There is the possibility to drop off your luggage, but the possibilities are limited by the crowds. So it is best to bring only a small bag or rucksack to Pompeii.
Disabled: By far not all areas of the excavation of Pompeii, but some major roads, are suitable for wheelchair users and people with walking disabilities.
Queues: Millions of visitors come every year. Quite often the queues at the cash desks are very long, there are enormous waiting times in front of some buildings. The longest queues are often at the entrance and at the brothel. The ancient pleasure house of Pompeii is the most visited building of the excavation! You can at least avoid the waiting times at the cash desk at the entrance, if you buy the tickets in advance on the Internet, see yellow box on this page.
Approach Pompeii by public transport
There are several entrances, from two train stations it is not far to the entrance.
You can take the local train Circumvesuviana to Pompeii (which translates as "Around the Mount Vesuvius", a kind of local train from Naples and the surrounding area). The train Circumvesuviana connects Naples and Sorrento several times per hour with Pompei. Tickets cost only a few euros.
Also many normal trains of the Italian railway stop in Pompei at another station. From here it is a few hundred metres more to the entrance to the ancient city.
There are also many public buses to Pompei. The small town is very well connected to the local area and also ong-distance trains stop here. The big sight is almost in the centre of the today's small town.
Access and entrances Pompeii
If you want to visit the old Pompei today, you have to pay admission and observe the opening hours. There are several entrances. Pompeii is easily accessible by public transport. There are 3 railway stations (different railway lines) not far from one of the entrances.
Entrance at Pompeii train station Villa Dei Misteri: This entrance is almost next to a train station. Trains from the centre of Naples and the tourist city of Sorrento stop here several times per round in the other direction. This train belongs to the Circumvesuviana system, a kind of local train net of the region south of Naples.
Station Pompei Santuario: This station is in the modern city of Pompei. Here stop the trains of Circumvesuviana the line Naples - Poggiomarino. To the entrance "Piazza Anfiteatro" of the ancient excavation it is a 10 tp 15 minutes walk from this station.
Station Pompei Santuario: This is the station of the normal long-distance trains of Pompei. There are direct trains from Naples and Salerno, for example. This station is also the centre of the modern city of Pompei. From here it is a 15 to 20 minute walk to the entrance "Piazza Anfiteatro".
Why is Pompeii the most important ancient excavation in the world?
Pompeii was a modern, rich and very lively city on the catastrophic day of August 24, 79 AD. The volcanic ash covered the whole city many meters high in a few hours. Many things were preserved extremely well under the ashes until the excavations in the last centuries. Things like corpses, pictures, writings on walls, restaurants, pubs, swimming pools, brothels, shops and much more are extremely well preserved.
This is why Pompeii is so interesting for both scientists and normal people. Nowhere else in the world are so many well-preserved objects and buildings from antiquity. The excavations are far from finished. Almost every year new, spectacular things are discovered in Pompeii. Many things from Pompeii are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum in Naples. Therefore you should definitely visit this museum als well.
Main sights of Pompeii
What you should definitely have a look at in Pomeji (examples):
Forum: The most important place of the city was the Forum. It served, for example, as a marketplace and meeting place. Here are for example a market hall, shops, a temple, a basilica, statues and much more.
Thermen: The ancient Romans loved bathing. Pompeii, for example, had several swimming pools, saunas and the like. They are partly well preserved, also the ancient technique for example for the warm water is very interesting.
Villas: You should definitely see some houses of the rich families of Pompeii. Here you can see a lot of details how people lived in the past. Many things are not much different as today. You discover many small things as for example a sign "Mind the dog" (of course in Latin).
Temples: In different temples you can learn a lot about the religion in pre-Christian Rome.
Theatre: There were several open-air theatres such as a large theatre, a small theatre and an amphitheatre, very interesting for visitors.
Brothel: The most visited tourist building in Pompeii is a brothel (Lupanar). There were probably several dozen such brothels, one in the center is very well preserved. You see among other things a room, pictures with sex motives and inscriptions. The prostitutes were slaves. Often in summer you have to wait a long time to get in the brothel because so many people want to go in.
But above all the many little things are great. You get a grandiose insight into life in antiquity. We often had the impression to be in a city in the year 79 after Christ. For many visitors Pompeii is the best museum in the world.