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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

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.

bobby joe harris jr, united states 27-Mar-06

janurary 18th 2001 i left hawaii to go to italy my place was naples i had planned to visit the ancient city of pomepii and herculaneum and so i did i found the city to be full of history and the streets and houses and baths ar all there i seem even some of the plaster cast of victims who were killed at first i didnt really they were real people but then is noticed they were i learned alot of it from the ruins there and the volcano's threat to the people of august 24th A.D 79 i reallyhad a greart time i suggest anyone who hs never been to pompeii and herculaneum go to see it and get an idea what life was like by walking the pompeiian streets and go inside the houses and see rooms and know by the identity who lived there. and that is a great experience i am going to go again and take more pictures of the city it is a valuable place to go and learn the ancient history thats alive it is also good for kids too to see what life was like at that time and how they lived and what they used to do in thier own time to get there all you have to do is come out of the airport and take the bus to downtown naples to trains undersground take the sorrento train south to pompeii which is the circumvesuviana i took the bus 15 to the trains and took the sorrento train south to scavi di pompeii thats where you get off or you can take the aeroporto di napoli bus which is an airport bus that also goes to pompeii to hotels there from the airport anyone in the naples airport can direct you or suggest a guide book with map to help you get around and the food in naples is wonderful try one of the small little biscuit breads with cucumbers on it dipped in oil its great flavor with your dinner of soups and entrees i suggest going walking to any place you want to and pick a good place to eat with inexpensive prices depends on where you go and be sure to carry a currency conversion card if you have one try that and you will love going there again and again and bring friends if you can too

Assif Israel

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 43 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
  • 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


Human Activity

Individual People

  • King Chulalongkorn of Siam (Rama V): (1 Nov)
  • Heinrich Schliemann: Visited the site shortly before his death in 1890
  • 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)"
  • 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


307 community members have visited Pompei.