One of the most fascinating parts of our trip was exploring the ruins of Pompeii with the best guide.

Shawni, Elle, Grace and Claire in Pompei


We weren’t going to make this stop due to time constraints. But when we found it was right en route to Rome from our hike and Amalfi coast cities, we couldn’t pass it up.

So glad we didn’t!

Our Amalfi travel helper hooked us up with a pretty awesome tour guide who led us through that place showing us her favorite highlights.

She helped us marvel at that perfectly preserved city from thousands of years ago.

A Little History about Pompeii

Let’s talk a little about the history of this amazing spot before I post the pictures. These facts are taken from my notes from our tour guide.

The Romans conquered the area of Pompeii in the first century before Christ. It was huge: 168 acres of civilization.

In 62AD there was a big earthquake, followed by more earthquakes. And then during 79AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted. It was a huge explosion with no lava. Ash completely encapsulated the city. One account says this explosion released 100,000 times the thermal energy of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombings.

Emperor Tiberius had his men come take all the treasures he could use, and then that city covered in ash was forgotten.

Somehow, the chemical make-up of all that ash froze the city in time.

Fast forward to 1599 when an architect was trying to build an underground canal. His men came across some walls and perfectly preserved murals. Somehow those ruins got forgotten again. Crazy right? It wasn’t until the 1700s when more ruins were unearthed.

This website says this next part better than my notes can explain:

Further incidental detections began in the early 1700s after workers building a summer palace for the King of Naples discover part of the ruins. Prompting a large investigation and evacuation. Royals began plundering the area for ancient decorations worthy for their palaces. And it was not until the 1800s that archaeologists started studying the area appropriately, beginning the longest continually excavated site ever seen.

Wow, pretty crazy right?

Excavations are still going. It is predicted that one third of the city is still buried.

Our tour of the ruins of Pompeii

Here’s what we got to see:

There were perfect wall murals, streets, mosaic floors all preserved.

And even bread fully in tact from when that town was encapsulated in ash all those years ago.

Pretty amazing to walk the streets and imagine the people who lived there.

Apparently this is the top part of the canal that someone tried to build right through the city in 1599:

Let’s get a better look at that:

This was the ancient bath house:

Complete with what looks like heated flooring:

A perfectly preserved floor mosaic in one of the grander houses:

All the houses had a hole in the ceiling and a “pool” right in the center in that front great room, apparently for collecting rain water.

Here’s a better look up:

Pompeii has the oldest amphitheater, built 70-80 years BEFORE Christ.

Just for reference, the colosseum was built 70-80 years AFTER Christ.

This part was sobering…since the ash came in so quickly it encapsulated humans.

By the time they were unearthed, most of the human remains were gone of course, but there were cavities in the ash that preserved their shapes.

And they made plaster casts from those spaces.

Pretty sad to contemplate.

These “steps” to cross the roads were so that people could walk without stepping in the sewage that most likely filled the streets:

A cast of the wagon wheels that carried things through those streets:

And there we have it. A cliff-notes version of what we saw in the ruins of Pompeii

Then…on to ROME. Some day I will get to reporting on that! There is so much to say.

For now let’s get back to this missionary of ours who’s experiencing the “home MTC” right now. Not sure how my heart feels about all this!

Other “ruin exploration” posts:

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  1. This place is high on my list! Would you be able to tell me which travel agency/ tour guide you used for this part of the trip?
    Thanks so much! Jasmin

  2. Pompeii was on my husband’s bucket list and I was so-so about visiting. It was incredible! I’m so glad we went and had a guided tour.

  3. I would love to visit Pompeii someday! It looks so cool! I particularly like the painted walls and mosaic floors. They did a pretty great job designing/decorating the place considering the level of technology they had at the time. Thanks for sharing and for the great pictures!

  4. Do you bring your DSLR camera on all of these adventures? I also love to capture photos, but I seem to increasingly rely on my phone camera rather than pack my heavy camera and lenses around.

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