In my last historically based article, we explored the famous city in France, Dunkirk. Today, I'd like like us to focus in on another part of Europe, as I share with you about the ancient city of Pompeii; a place of history, disaster and fame.
The History of Pompeii
Pompeii is incredibly known all over the world, as it holds so much preservation of the past, as well as spiking curiosity from the infamous tales of what took place there so long ago. It is located just east of the city of Naples, Italy, and for hundreds of years, and it has been a destination where travelers come running to see.
This ancient Roman city was home to an estimated 11 000 people and covered about 170 acres of space. (No wonder I was so exhausted walking around this place all day!!) In the year 79 AD, Pompeii was changed forever.
Mount Vesuvius, the infamous volcano, still active to this day, erupted, which sent many Pompeiians fleeing for their lives. The 2000 ish who stayed behind perished in this disaster, as they faced the falling rocks, ash and debris. In the end, the entire city (as well as the nearby, less known city of Herculaneum) and the people within its walls were buried in meters and meters of ash, left untouched for over 1500 years.
Pompeii in Entertainment
There is something so intriguing about natural disasters such as this, which spikes curiosity, imagination and the sense of exploration to those who hear of its history. Because of this, numerous entertainment stories have been inspired by these events.
Dan Smith wrote a song released by Bastelle in 2013, touching upon the scandalous lifestyles of the city's inhabitants and once again breaching the age old question of whether the disaster at Pompeii could have been a "condemnation" on the city. His lyrics, "I was left to my own devices," and "Where do we begin? The rubble or our sins?" seem to support this idea. What makes this song so unique is that it is written in first person, placing the singer right in the action and it eventually draws the the listeners into the story, painting the picture in a way that we too, are part of the action: "We were caught up and lost in all of our vices. In your pose as the dust settled around us, and the walls kept tumbling down in the city that we love. Grey clouds roll over the hills bringing darkness from above." If you'd like, you can check out this song, Pompeii through Itunes.
In 2014, the feature film Pompeii, staring Kit Harington and Emily Browning, was released in theatres. It tells the tale of forbidden love and of course includes the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Although it may not have been received very well by audiences, it is yet another example of how this historical event has captured the minds and imaginations of people from all over.
Earlier on, this past April, I decided that I would spend one of my days in Italy, exploring Pompeii. I took the Circumvesuviana (pronounced nothing what it looks like) train from the Naples to the city of Pompeii. Just outside of my stop was the archaeological site of Pompeii. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into, as I paid 15 euros and entered a brand new world.
The city itself was huge! I was incredibly thankful for the free map and the information booklet, outlining the history of just about every place I passed. I got to learn about so many things, from the status of the people who lived in the different homes, to the traditions which took place in each building. The city was incredibly preserved and despite the tourists everywhere, with a bit of imagination, it was really neat to picture a bit of what life would have been like there. I loved seeing some of the artwork, and details in the buildings. The displays of historical pieces that were uncovered - games, tools and even bodies - really brought to life that this was once a real city where real, living and breathing people once lived.
I visited in the springtime, so it was really amazing to see the plants, flowers and trees in bloom. It really solidified to me what I had heard about volcanic soil being very fertile. The streets were made of stone and stretched on and on, through every part of the site. After walking around for about five hours, I still hadn't managed to see quite a bit of the city. The citizens who once lived there seemed to have everything ranging from large communal baths, to courthouses, graveyards to amphitheaters. As someone who doesn't exactly love history, my mind still managed to get lost in the history of it all and as exhausted as I was at the end of the day, I was determined to stay until close to soak in the wonder of it all.
If you happen to be in the area, visiting a nearby Italian city, I definitely recommend spending some time in Pompeii. One of the most amazing parts is that to this day, they are still excavating the site and uncovering more and more of it to show off to the world.
Check out some of my favourite photos from the Pompeii Archaeological Site below. Enjoy!