pompei

THE CITY


       
       Pompei is the city where Pagan and Christian worlds coexist at a very short distance, however, the beliefs also have very different ideas and aspirations. Pompei is a very rich city starting from an artistic and historical point of view thanks to its monuments, art, and archeological ruins. Tourists from all around the world are attracted by one of the richest ancient Roman cities and on another side the Christian spirituality which also attracts many pilgrims to the Pontifical Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary of Pompei.



       Modern Pompei is mainly famous for the ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii, which is located in the Pompei Scavi Zone. The vast archeological area is also under the Unesco patronage and attracts over 3.5 million tourists yearly from all around the world, making it the sixth most visited archaeological site in the world. Till this day, there are many who are not aware that there has been a new city constructed after it was rediscovered in the 18th century and that there are actually roughly twenty five thousand inhabitants. The city also has a strategic geographic position, just a few kilometers from Naples and Salerno, near Ercolano, Sorrento Coast and Amalfi Coast, also the isle of Capri can be seen from Pompei.


       Pompei is mostly known for the catastrophic event that occurred in 79AD, the eruption of the Volcano Vesuvio which at the end of the eruption, left the city buried under millions of tons of volcanic ash and killed 16.000 people overall causing the eradication of an entire population. Although some people drifted back to town in search of survivors or belongings, there was nothing left to find. The ancient city of Pompeii was one of the richest towns of the Roman Empire, and was already a very popular touristic city destination even 2000 years ago. It was especially popular considering it used to be a coastal area, which made many country officials and wealthy people want to visit it or make their homes there.

Why Pompei

          

       If we think of Pompei we cannot help but run our minds to its houses, objects, frescoes, wonderful testimonies that this crystallised city has left us over time as a legacy. However, alongside this extraordinary '' material '' legacy there is another one we tend to dwell on less in our visits. 

     We refer to all that patrimony of painted or graffitied inscriptions on the walls of Pompeii which, together with the frescoes, a fortuitous playout of fate, give us the image of a "living" city, made up of feelings and passions, a city that people sensitive to art and life, love it so much precisely because it tells us how we have been, how we continue to be and how, perhaps, we will be forever.






       The entire everyday life, even the most intimate one, from the walls of Pompeii reveals itself to the modern world, often giving us the feeling of hearing our voice and our most personal thoughts echo.

       The ancient Pompeians used to write a bit of everything on the walls, using chalk and sharp tools to make engravings, describing each daily event a bit like it happens today on the streets of our cities.

       Graffiti in Pompeii of various kinds: we find electoral propaganda slogans, announcements of shows, simple reminders, hotel and tavern signs with related warnings from the host, personal outbursts, slander about hated people, poetic love messages, or others of a decidedly obscene nature.

Fun Facts About Pompei

  • The amphitheatre of Pompeii is the oldest in the world. Starting from 79 BC, this monument hosted tons of fights between gladiators and circus games, which they advertised through graffiti.

  • It is estimated that under most of the territory on which the new city of Pompei was build on, ruins of the ancient city can be found. In fact the temple of Dionisio that most people are unaware of can be found in between the new houses that were built.

  • The population of the ancient city wasn’t aware that Vesuvius was a volcano, it is hypothesized that they believed it to be a Mountain belonging to the Gods and used to pray to it. The Patron Saint of Pompeii was Venus, the goddess of beauty and love.

  • Only 44 hectares (roughly two thirds) of the ancient Pompeii have been excavated, it is approximated that about 22 hectares is still covered in debris from the eruption and has yet to be discovered by archeologists.

  • Wine was one of the favourite drinks of the ancient Pompeians, so much so that it can be observed in many frescoes. Till this day when visiting Pompei people can also have a look at the vineyards that are surrounding the Villa dei Misteri and try out the wine made from the vineyard that can be found in the Scavi Zone close to the Villa.

  • The Ruins of the City are covered in Graffiti and some of those are very explicit and the opposite of innocent. One thing is certain, the people of Pompeii definitely had a broad sense of humor. Pompei also has its own color called ”Pompeian Red”, a shade of red obtained from a special mollusk paste that can be found only locally.

  • Erotic frescoes, and other erotic items were found by archeologist in the cities so many that the National Archeologic Museum of Naples dedicated an entire room, calling it ”The Secret Room”. Archeologists have also discovered about 25 brothels scattered around the city, the largest being called ”Lupanare” a term which comes from ”lupa” meaning she-wolf, and in the slang of those times it meant ”prostitute”, another reason being that the women used to announce that they are available by making howling wolf sounds.

  • The city was undiscovered for 1,500 years after the eruption, it was discovered during the digging of a water tunnel in 1599 but the excavations only began in the 1700s. While unearthing the city, archeologists noticed empty spaces in the ash layers, where there had once been human bodies. Replicas of the positions people were in when they passed away were made by injecting plaster into these voids.