Pompeii was destroyed, and completely buried, during a catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius on 24 August 79 AD.
The volcano buried Pompeii under many metres of ash, and it was lost for 1,600 years before its accidental rediscovery in 1748. Since then, its excavation has provided an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city at the height of the Roman Empire.
At the time of the eruption, the town could have had some 20,000 inhabitants, and was located in an area in which Romans had their vacation villas
The excavated town offers a snapshot of Roman life in the 1st century, frozen at the moment it was buried . The Forum, the baths, many houses, and some out-of-town villas like the Villa of the Mysteries remain surprisingly well preserved.
Besides the forum, many other services were found: the Macellum (great food market), the Pistrinum (mill), the Thermopolium (sort of bar that served cold and hot beverages), and cauporioe (small restaurants). An amphitheatre and 2 theatres have been found, along with a palaestra or gymnasium.
The large number of well-preserved frescoes throw a great light on everyday life and have been a major advance in art history of the ancient world,
Today, Pompeii with approximately 2.5 million visitors a year, is a main tourist attraction of Italy and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.