Pompei Ancient Life Tour (Self Guided), Pompei

Pompei is a prosperous ancient town that was buried under ashes from Vesuvius eruption in 79 AD. The disaster perfectly preserved some of Pompei's artifacts can now tell us about the daily life and traditions of its citizens. Follow this self-guided tour to explore the town houses and learn more about the life of its inhabitants.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for IOS   Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for Android

Pompei Ancient Life Tour Map

Guide Name: Pompei Ancient Life Tour
Guide Location: Italy » Pompei (See other walking tours in Pompei)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.9 Km or 0.6 Miles
Author: Ella
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Villa of the Mysteries
  • Villa of Diomedes
  • Villa of the Mosaic Columns
  • The Street of Tombs
  • House of the Surgeon
  • House of the Baker
  • House of the Pansa
  • House of the Tragic Poet
  • House of the Small Fountain
  • The Tower of Mercury
Villa of the Mysteries

1) Villa of the Mysteries (must see)

The Villa of the Mysteries is one of the most well known buildings in the historic area around Mount Vesuvius. It is not situated within Pompei itself, lying around 500 metres northwest of the main city. Believed to be a suburban villa, which were commonplace in Roman times, it can easily be reached on foot from the centre of Pompei. Admission into the city centre will usually allow access to the villa, as well as the nearby settlement of Herculaneum.

The villa is one of the best preserved buildings in the Pompei area, as it suffered little damage during either the 62 AD earthquake or the tremors prior to the eruption of Vesuvius seventeen years later. The walls of the building are lined with some of the best kept and most detailed frescoes surviving from the Roman era. The Villa of the Mysteries earned its name from the unusual paintings on the walls of the triclinium, a formal dining hall found in most Roman villas.

The frescoes in the dining hall appear to show some form of ritual, although nobody is certain of its purpose. One theory suggests the woman pictured in the frescoes is being inducted into the cult of Dionysus. An alternative idea put forward is that the paintings show an ancient marriage ritual. The dining hall also features well preserved serving areas, which may have been used to make wine and olive oil.
Villa of Diomedes

2) Villa of Diomedes

The Villa of Diomedes is located midway between the Villa of Mysteries and the city walls, on via dei Sepolcri. The rooms of this large, elegant villa were constructed around a fourteen column peristyle. The bathing area was located on the near side of the peristyle, adjacent to the road. On the opposite side stands the former triclinium, which has stunning views over the Gulf of Naples. Looking out from the dining hall, you can see the villa’s garden below.

A building in the centre of this open space once contained a swimming pool, surrounded by covered areas for dining and relaxing. This is the most notorious spot within the villa complex, for rather grisly reasons. It was here that the master of the house was trapped, along with eighteen others, by the deadly eruption of 79 AD. Their remains were found when the villa was discovered and excavated in 1771. Many of the bodies were found with large amounts of jewellery on their person. In total, thirty four bodies were found in and around the complex. Even the villa’s name is derived from a tomb – that of Marcus Arrius Diomedes, which lies across the road in the town’s necropolis.
Villa of the Mosaic Columns

3) Villa of the Mosaic Columns

This villa is located just outside the city walls, if you exit via Ercolano Gates. It was named so after the original columns, carrying mosaic decorations, now kept in the Naples Archaeological Museum. There is a beautiful mosaic fountain in the inside garden. Down the street, near the villa, you can see a necropolis with several tombs.
The Street of Tombs

4) The Street of Tombs (must see)

Entering the city of Pompei a visitor can remark how tombs were built along the road. The monuments of dead citizens were pretentiously placed to impress the visitors to the city. People from all over the world come here to see Pompei Cemetery and the whole street of tombs.
House of the Surgeon

5) House of the Surgeon

Casa del Chirurgo, or the House of the Surgeon, is located close to the Pompei city walls, adjacent to the Herculaneum gate. It lies on the northwestern edge of the city, metres from the Villas of Diomedes and the Mysteries. It gained its name from a number of surgical tools found during its excavation by Frances la Vega in 1770. These discoveries have given a fascinating insight into the medical advancements of the Roman Empire. Whilst it is believed that life expectancy was relatively low, most citizens had access to clean water, and the tools discovered here compare to those still in use as recently as the 19th century.

The House of the Surgeon is believed to be one of Pompei’s oldest buildings. It is built in the Italic style rather than the Hellenic form of architecture seen elsewhere in the city. It is believed that the Hellenic style did not become popular in this area until the 2nd century BC. The house is the oldest Italic style building found in Pompei, and indeed the entire region of Campania. The layout, which is believed to have changed little throughout its long existence, features several small rooms arranged around a central atrium.
House of the Baker

6) House of the Baker (must see)

The House of the Baker dates from the 2nd century BC, but like many buildings in Pompei, was badly damaged by the 62 AD earthquake. It is believed that the house was being extensively renovated when it was destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius. The ground floor of the house had been converted into work rooms, with the living quarters moved to the top floor. The renovation was incomplete at the time of the eruption in 79 AD. One of thirty-five bakeries discovered in the city, the House of the Baker gives an insight into the impressive food manufacturing techniques used in Roman times.

The hortus, or garden, located behind the building, contains machinery used for grinding wheat. The vaulted oven was heated by millstones carved from lava rock. There are also tables where bread was rested before and after baking. Between the garden and the main building there lies a row of stalls. It is believed that the bakery owners would have used the stalls to sell bread to the citizens of Pompei. Many residential buildings did not have their own ovens, so the bakeries played a huge part in feeding the city’s population. It was here that the skeleton of a harnessed mule was discovered during excavations.
House of the Pansa

7) House of the Pansa

The House of the Pansa is a large mansion building which occupies an entire block of his historic city. Whilst the central and rear portions of the house are residential, almost all of the rooms adjacent to the surrounding streets were let out by the owner, Gnaeus Aleius Nigidius Maius. It is believed that they were used as shops, store rooms and living quarters. Archaeologists even discovered a sign put up by the owner, advertising units available to rent. The house’s main entrance is located on the via delle Terme. The building was first excavated in 1810, before three further digs between 1813 and 1852. It was fully unearthed in 1943.

The house’s many rooms are centered around a large, Tuscan style atrium with a well preserved central impluvium, a basin used for collecting rain water. Beyond the atrium, the house’s central courtyard widens to incorporate a central peristyle. It features sixteen Ionic columns which once supported the peristyle roof. They are one of the best preserved features of the building. Sadly, many of the house’s decorative features have been eroded by the elements. Those in charge of preserving Pompei face a constant battle to keep the city’s ornate frescoes and decorative features safe from the elements, particularly within buildings, like the House of the Pansa, which were discovered first.
House of the Tragic Poet

8) House of the Tragic Poet (must see)

The House of the Tragic Poet is also known as the Homeric or Iliadic House. It is a fairly typical Roman era residential building, built in the 2nd century BC. It is famous for a series of elaborate mosaics and frescoes which depict scenes from Greek mythology. It has attracted interest from writers and academics ever since it was unearthed in November 1824. The artworks discovered are among the finest ever found in Pompei. This is unusual, given that the house itself is unremarkable compared to some of the city’s larger villas. Little is known of the family that owned the house, except that they were most likely killed in the 79 AD eruption of Vesuvius.

There are frescoes and mosaics throughout the House of the Tragic Poet. A mosaic found in the entrance hall shows a chained dog, with the words ‘Cave Canem’ – beware of the dog – written underneath. The house’s atrium and peristyle feature frescoes depicting several Greek Gods, including Zeus, Aphrodite, Achilles and Poseidon, amongst others. Many literary figures have been based upon this mysterious building, including Vladimir Janovic, whose epic poem House of the Tragic Poet gave the house its name. Janovic’s work is based around the myths and stories told in the house’s many frescoes and mosaics.
House of the Small Fountain

9) House of the Small Fountain

The House of the Small Fountain is found in the western end of Pompei, close to the ancient city walls. It was built in the 1st century BC, and combines architectural features which span the history of Pompei. Almost all of the rooms open onto a central atrium. The entrance of the house is heavily decorated, demonstrating the owner’s wealth and social status to all who visited the building. The roof sloped inwards, allowing rainwater to collect in the central impluvium. A cistern built below the basin gathered the water, which was then recovered and used in the production of food and wine.

The peristyle, located in the garden, is richly decorated with frescoes of landscapes and maritime buildings. Whilst many features of the house are consistent with BC-era Roman buildings, the key feature is a more modern addition. The fountain-nymphaeum, which gives the house its name, is believed to have become a fashionable feature in the 1st century AD. Like much of the house, it is heavily decorated with mosaics and sculptures. The fountain takes the form of a miniature arch with a triangular roof. The water springs into a hollow underneath the arch, with bronze statuettes on either side.
The Tower of Mercury

10) The Tower of Mercury

The well-known Tower of Mercury is built into the wall of the northwestern part of the city. It offers an incredible view from the top of the city. Tourists always enjoy taking pictures of the ancient city from the Tower of Mercury.

Walking Tours in Pompei, Italy

Create Your Own Walk in Pompei

Create Your Own Walk in Pompei

Creating your own self-guided walk in Pompei is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Old City Self Guided Tour II

Old City Self Guided Tour II

2,000 years on, the secrets of Pompei have not been fully revealed until today. Wonderful pieces of art have been found in the excavations of the ancient town. Enjoy the view of Vesuvius and touch the preserved walls, which keep the memories of Pompei and its citizens alive. Take this tour and discover the town once buried under the thick layer of ash.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.4 Km or 0.9 Miles
Pompei Introduction Walking Tour

Pompei Introduction Walking Tour

Once, almost 2,000 years ago, the prosperous city of Pompei was buried under the ash from Vesuvius and this preserved its historic and cultural treasures for hundreds of years. Rich in archaeological and historic sites, Pompei is well worth seeing. Take this orientation walk down Pompei streets, and enjoy the most popular sights of Pompei.

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
Old City Self Guided Tour I

Old City Self Guided Tour I

Due to the quick and unexpected death of the city of Pompei, it has become a window into the past, which shows us the way people lived back in the 1st century A.D. Roman Empire. Take this tour to discover the preserved sights of the ancient city -- the details of its public, private and cultural life.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 Km or 0.7 Miles
Places of Worship

Places of Worship

The true age of Pompei can be determined through the temples and places of worship found there. They provide us the clearest picture of the cultural life of Pompei citizens. Take this tour and discover the remnants of places of worship of the various cults practiced in the ancient city that laid buried in ash and clinker from the Vesuvius eruption since 79 AD.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 Km or 0.7 Miles