Must-See: the Ruins of Pompeii

Near Naples, Italy lies Pompeii, a city buried by ash from a volcanic eruption in AD 79.  It was forgotten for 1,700 years until it was rediscovered in 1749.  Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that visitors from around the world flock to visit. I expected, during my recent visit, to see people frozen like statues, covered in ash and preserved, like a city frozen in time.  But what I saw was -  well let me show you.... The following photos are of the lower plaza.  You can get an idea of the height of the columns by looking at the second photo, where someone is walking past. There's no one in the photo here, but if you are thinking it looks rather small - you are right.  The colosseum only holds 5,000 people.  Since at the time of the eruption the city had a population of perhaps 20,000 (much bigger than I had imagined before visiting), that means that unlike in Rome where the colosseum was open to the masses, in Pompeii it was reserved for the elite. Even though from the Maya and Aztec ruins in my country I knew that the ancient civilizations were incredibly advanced in many ways, I still found myself in awe at the ingenuity of the people living in 79 AD. You see those big stones in the street below?  They were spaced precisely for wheels to get past them.  What were the stones for? They were for making your way across the street during times of heavy rain. And most houses had indoor toilets.  I would have guessed them to be something mostly rich people had in their homes. This was the forum.  It was the main town center, with a market, temples and municipal buildings - in function not a lot unlike city centers today. It's easy to see why Pompeii is visited by 2.5 million travelers a year.  If you get the chance to visit, do so as it is a must-see! This was guest post by Tripper Antonio, a retired physician living in Mexico and the U.S.  You can connect with him via his Tripping profile and via a number of Tripping Networks, including the AARP Network and Do Good Things Network.