11 Pompeii Highlights

The ruins of Pompeii with Mt Vesuvius in the background

Pompeii was a city near what is now Naples. Archaeologists believe it was originally founded in the 7th or 6th century BC. It was destroyed in 79 AD when the volcano, Mt. Vesuvius, erupted. Tons of volcanic ash buried the city, and it was lost for 1500 years.

In 1599, Italian workmen found a few frescoes while digging an underground channel, but nobody connected them with the lost city. It wasn’t until 1748 when the Spanish military engineer Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre began excavating there that Pompeii was rediscovered.

As different archaeologists excavated Pompeii, they realized that the well-preserved buildings made Pompeii a time capsule of ancient Roman life during the first century AD. Today, the ruins of Pompeii are easily accessible, with many incredible highlights that you don’t want to miss out on. Discover our must-see Pompeii highlights that will help bring this magnificent archeological site to life.

Must-see sites of Pompeii

1 House of Sallust

The House of Sallust is a domus or residence for the wealthy that was first excavated in the early 19th century. The oldest parts date back to the 4th century. Over time, the owners expanded and added to the house.

2 House of Julia Fleix

The House of Julia Felix was named for the woman who had lived there. She was quite wealthy and had converted part of the house into apartments. A lot of the paintings in it depict middle-class life.

3 Temple of Apollo

The Temple of Apollo, one of the Pompeii highlights, is the oldest religious building in Pompeii. While most of the current building was erected in the 2nd century BC, parts of it are believed to date back to the 6th century BC.

4 Suburban baths of Terme Suburbane

The Suburban Baths or Terme Suburbane was a bathhouse that archaeologists found in 1958. It is infamous for its erotic frescoes that scandalized the Vatican when archaeologists unearthed them in 2001. Researchers have also found the remains of a heated outdoor swimming pool.

5 House of Faun

The House of the Faun is name for the statue of a dancing faun Found at the site. The house takes up an entire block and its architecture is considered an excellent mix of Greek and Roman influences.

6 Temple of Isis

The Temple of Isis was one of the earlier discoveries, for scholars unearthed it in 1764. Isis was an Egyptian goddess who had many worshipers among the Greeks and Romans. A lot of the artwork in the temple shows a mixture of Egyptian and Greek influences.

7 Forum of Pompeii

The Forum of Pompeii was a rectangular piazza surrounded by important civic, business, and religious centers, including a market and temples dedicated to the gods Jupiter and Apollo. Before the construction of the Amphitheater, the Forum had also been the site of gladiatorial contests.

8 The Amphitheater

The Amphitheater, which was completed in 80 BC, is located in the easternmost part of the excavated area. It is the oldest known surviving amphitheater in Italy, and it is also one of the best-preserved. It could hold 20,000 people and was used for a variety of games, including gladiatorial combats.

9 The Brothel

The Brothel or Lupanare was a small two-story building that had five rooms on each floor. It is known for its erotic paintings and vulgar graffiti. A prostitute was sometimes called a lupa or “she-wolf,” so a brothel was often called a lupanare or “wolf den.”

10 The Villa of Mysteries

The Villa of the Mysteries, another one of the Pompeii highlights, is a 90-room villa that is one of the most complete structures still standing. It is famous for its art, including a fresco that depicts a bride-to-be undergoing an initiation into the cult of Dionysius, the Greek wine god.

11 The Garden of the Fugitives

The Garden of the Fugitives is the largest gathering of Pompeii victims in a single area. Thirteen desperate people had tried to find sanctuary in an orchard. Researchers believe that 2,000 people perished altogether.

Tour Pompeii

Want a personalized walk through one of the most extensive and well-preserved cities from ancient Roman times? Check out our Private and Semi Private tours that visit Pompeii and nearby Naples and Capri. We offer tours that range from a kid-friendly tour of Pompeii to a helicopter trip to Pompeii from Rome with a walking tour of the ancient city and a flyover of nearby Mt Vesuvius.