In 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius violently erupted and buried the Roman town of Pompeii. The city was lost for nearly 1700 years before its accidental rediscovery in 1749. Since then, its excavation has provided an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city in the Roman Empire. Pompeii attracts over 2 million visitors every year, who are able to freely wander the incredibly well-preserved ruins of the city. Of all the places I’ve traveled, nothing has struck me with as much force as Pompeii. From the (still) colorful frescos in ruined homes, to cobbled streets with wagon ruts, Pompeii makes you feel as if you have stepped back in time to face the horrible destruction of a Volcano that, from all appearances, could have erupted only a few years ago.
I remember first hearing of the infamous “Plaster People” in my 5th grade history class. The idea of an ancient civilization buried and preserved beneath the destructive force of a volcano fascinated and disturbed me as a kid. I finally got to visit Pompeii, and we spent all day roaming the the incredibly well-preserved ruins. The most moving sight of all was by far the “Garden of the Fugitives”. Here, plaster was poured into the spaces in the ash left by decomposed bodies. After the plaster had hardened, thirteen adults and children were found huddled together, making futile attempts to shield themselves from the onslaught of volcanic dust, pumice, stone, and ash.