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World Heritage Site

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The Archaeological Areas of Pompei, Herculaneum and Torre Annunziata provide a complete and vivid picture of society and daily life at a specific moment in the past.

On August 24 of the year 79 AD, the Vesuvius volcano in southern Italy suddenly erupted. It buried the surrounding towns under layers of ash and rock.

Pompei, an urbanized and commercial town of 25.000, was hit fully. The Roman colony was just recovering from a bad earthquake in 62 AD.

The site was rediscovered in the 16th century, but exploration did not begin until 1748. Besides Pompei, this WHS consists also of Herculaneum and the Villa Oplontis at Torre Annunziata. It provides a complete and vivid picture of society and daily life at a specific moment in the past that is without parallel anywhere in the world.

Map of Pompei


  • Cultural

Visit December 2004

The site at Pompei is extensive, and takes at least half a day to explore. The granary shows plaster casts of victims of the eruption, their expressions especially impressive after hearing the stories on the news about the south Asian tsunami disaster. Just like those victims these ancient Pompeians had no chance.

December 2004

I've seen quite a lot of ancient excavations, but due to the special circumstances under which it was preserved this one is really special. The feeling of the town as a whole has survived: not only the major buildings, but also the streets, the normal houses and the restaurants. Take for example the ubiquitous Thermopolia, where snacks could be bought. You can just imagine having a quick lunch there yourself.

December 2004

The rich preferred to build their villas just outside the town, overlooking the sea. One of these is the Villa of Mysteries. Here I sheltered from a hailstorm. The villa is decorated with several extremely beautiful and well preserved / restored frescoes. The dining room in the front has a large painting of a woman's initiation to marriage. Elsewhere there are delicate Egyptian motifs waiting to be admired.

December 2004

Community Reviews

Michael Turtle Australia - 17-Jul-18

Pompei by Michael Turtle

I don't think anything can quite prepare you for visiting Pompeii. The site is so large that it's overwhelming at first and it's hard to know where to go and what to see. After a couple of hours of exploring, it all starts to make a bit more sense and you get a sense of how the the urban design is laid out.

I guess it's like every time you arrive in a new city - it takes a little while to get your bearings.

Pompeii is the kind of place where a guide or an organised tour would actually be really useful. I didn't have one and I regretted it by the end. But, having said that, there was also something really nice about being able to wander and explore such a vast site by myself.

If you're thinking of visiting yourself, I've put together a map of Pompeii with highlights based on what I discovered when I spent the day there. I hope it is useful to some people.

Read more from Michael Turtle here.

John booth New Zealand - 13-Sep-11

Pompei by john booth

The excavations of Pompei are huge, so I devoted a half day to walking the streets, starting at the amphitheatre and finishing at the Villa of Mysteries. I stopped off to view frescoes, the pristine mosaics and complete dwellings. But the highlight was the brightly coloured frescoes of the Villa of Mysteries.

From the nearby station I travelled a short distance to Torre Annunziata to visit the Villa of Poppea at Oplontis. A much smaller site but with many colourful frescoed walls.

Travelling on from there by train to Ercolano I soon reached the excavations of Herculaneum. I thought the houses lining the Cardos here more interesting than those at Pompei, and the decorations were still spectacular. Although quite spread out, this site is much easier to navigate, as the whole site can be seen from above.

Assif Germany - -

Pompeii is such a major tourist attraction that nearby Herculaneum remains in its shadow. It is true Pompeii is much larger and in some respects better preserved (wooden furniture and mummies for instance were only found there), however, you have to pay for that by going along the often overcrowded lanes and missing so many houses that are now locked up due to the big crowds.

Herculaneum was destroyed at the same time and in the same manner as Pompeii. It is smaller but features similar houses with beautiful gardens and frescoes. Actually Herculaneum features some multi-storey houses, absent in Pompeii.

During my visit in 2007 almost all houses in Herculaneum were open. This gives you the impression you can really wander freely around the town and go wherever you like on your way to explore it. This was an exciting experience. There also significantly less visitors around.

Try to visit both cities if you can, but if you come during the rush season I would almost recommend to visit Herculaneum instead of Pompeii. It is beautiful.

If you go to Herculaneum try to visit the nearby Villa Campolieto, a Neoclassical mansion of the 18th Century belonging to the Golden Mile of the Vesuvian Villas.

Klaus Freisinger Austria - -

Pompeii has been described so many times that I don´t need to add that much. But if you have never been there, go there or you will miss the most amazing archaeological site anywhere. History really does come alive here, despite the huge crowds. Unfortunately I could only be there for a couple of hours, but I certainly hope to return there as soon as possible, hopefully also to visit Herculaneum, which supposedly has the more interesting remains (if that´s at all possible), and maybe the Villa Oplontis. If you can, combine a visit to Pompeii with a hike up Mount Vesuvius (auto road, walking route for the last few hundred meters over slippery terrain) so it all comes into perspective. The mountain is very interesting both from a historical and from a geological/volcanological perspective and offers great views of the Bay of Naples (unless it´s foggy or the smoke from the crater covers your vision), one of the most beautiful vistas in Europe.

Jim Humberd USA -

The first thing that impressed Jim about Pompeii was its location. How did the city planners, in several centuries BC, know just where to place Pompeii so that 2,000 years later it would be at an off-ramp of the Autostrada, next to a railway station, hotels, and the campsite. That’s careful planning.

It’s interesting to note that Pompeii’s amphitheater, and the two theaters, are perhaps the most complete structures of their type to have survived the ages. Since they were buried below the ash of Vesuvius, they did not suffer the destructive power of wind and rain, and stones could not be quarried and stolen for other building projects, as happened elsewhere.

A housing shortage in Italy resulted in most young people living at their parent’s home, rather than in their own apartments. The well-dressed young people in nice cars were waiting an hour or so to rent a room in the Pompeii campground for an hour or so, or maybe after such a long wait, just a few minutes or so. How romantic!

From our book, tation To Italy (Google)

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Site Info

Full name: Archaeological Areas of Pompei, Herculaneum and Torre Annunziata

Unesco ID: 829

Inscribed: 1997

Type: Cultural

Criteria: 3   4   5  

Link: By Name By ID

Site History

  • 1997 - Inscribed 
  • 1996 - Revision Ercolano and Pompeii were originally separate TWHS, later united and extended to include Torre Annunziata


The site has 7 locations.

  • Pompei: Herculaneum Province of Naples, Campania, Italy
  • Pompei: Pompeii Province of Naples, Campania, Italy
  • Pompei: Theatre of Herculaneum Province of Naples, Campania, Italy
  • Pompei: Torre Annunziata: Villa A Province of Naples, Campania, Italy
  • Pompei: Torre Annunziata: Villa B Province of Naples, Campania, Italy
  • Pompei: Villa dei Misteri (Pompei) Province of Naples, Campania, Italy
  • Pompei: Villa dei Papiri (Herculaneum) Province of Naples, Campania, Italy


The site has 46 connections.


  • Timber framing: Opus craticium Link
  • Early Under-floor Heating: "The earliest hypocaust heating systems at Pompei are found in both privates houses and baths, which suggests that the method did not change much over the centuries." Roman Building: materials and techniques by Jean Pierre Adam, pg. 547
  • Designed by or influenced Le Corbusier: He writes of the ideas he developed from viewing the Casa del Noce "CASA DEL NOCE, at Pompeii. Again the little vestibule which frees your mind from the street. And then you are in the Atrium; four columns in the middle (four cylinders) shoot up towards the shade of the roof giving a feeling of force and a witness of brilliant methods; but at the far end is the brilliance of the garden seen through the peristyle which spreads out this light.... (Le Corbusier, 1927, p. 183)"
  • Macellum Link
  • Faux marble: marbleizing ("Faux stone painting was widely used in Pompeii", wiki)




  • Tyrhennian Sea: Herculaneum originally fronted the Tyrhennian Sea and the remains include the Harbour area and sea front houses e.g The House of the Deer


  • Etruscans
  • Historical Food Remains
  • Historical events: eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79
  • Recorded cultural discoveries: 1738, Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre
  • Early Archaeology: Excavation of Herculaneum started at 1738. It was the first site ever to have been excavated.
  • Residences of Roman Emperors: Villa Poppaea (a.k.a "Villa A" Torre Annunziata) - "Evidence suggests that it was owned by the Emperor Nero, and it is believed to have been used by his second wife, Poppaea Sabina, as her main residence when she was not in Rome".... "the villa shows signs of remodeling, probably to repair damage from the earthquake in 62 CE. The oldest part of the house centers round the atrium and dates from the middle of 1st century BCE (Wiki) Link

Human Activity

Individual People

  • King Chulalongkorn of Siam (Rama V): (1 Nov)
  • Heinrich Schliemann: Visited the site shortly before his death in 1890
  • Female Archaeologists : Wilhelmina Feemster Jashemski (1910 - 2007) "a noted scholar of the ancient site of Pompeii, where her archaeological investigations focused on the evidence of gardens and horticulture in the ancient city.... (she) is viewed as a pioneer of the field of garden archaeology in the ancient Mediterranean " (Wiki)  Link

Religion and Belief

  • Hercules: Herculaneum was named after Hercules



WHS Hotspots

WHS on Other Lists

World Heritage Process

  • WHC locations: Naples (1997)
  • Derived from more than one TWHS: Pompei and Ercolano
  • Extended from original TWHS: "Finally, ICOMOS strongly recommends the inclusion in the nomination of the Villa Oplontis at Torre Annunziata....... These proposals were discussed with the Soprintendenza. Subsequently, full documentation was received by ICOMOS and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre for the extension of the original nomination as proposed by ICOMOS." (AB evaluation)


398 community members have visited Pompei.