The once small fishing town of Pompeii in Campania – near the Bay of Naples – was forever changed on August 24th, 79 AD, when a mysterious natural disaster buried the town in layers of volcanic ash and pumice stone. What remained, after the smoke and ash settled, was a an entire town, locked in time and largely forgotten for centuries. For various reasons, the question of ‘Is Pompeii Closed?’ arises regularly, with some potential visitors concerned that Pompeii is no longer able to be visited. The truth is, while the town has not yet been fully reconstructed following the eruption, you can still visit touring the ruins of this great Ancient Roman city, just as previous generations of travelers did.
In principle, it’s possible to visit Pompeii every day of the year. Normal opening hours run from 8.30am to 5pm – even on bank-holidays – with tickets cost €11,50. Visitors can take the Circumvesuviana train from Naples to Pompeii, wandering the remains of this once glorious city with a certified guide. However, due to the current Coronavirus pandemic, visitors must ensure that they follow the health regulations which includes wearing a face mask, social distancing and purchasing tickets in advance.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that the site is enormous and can seem overwhelming for first time visitors, due to the sheer size – making time management a key part of the day. That’s why guided tours are so popular, as they guide you around the must-see highlights while focusing on the individual needs and interests of the group. In addition, the ruins are prone to becoming extremely crowded during the peak summer months of July and August, so like many tourist attractions, with the advent of the pandemic, visiting out of season may be the best plan.
The ruins are divided into two parts; the ‘Casa del Fauno’ and the ‘Forum area’, both with amazing examples of domestic life in First Century AD and must-see tourist attractions. Thanks to a number of excavations in the 18 th & 19 th centuries and some ground-breaking archaeological work which includes carbon-dating and a painstaking restoration of the site, much of the city has been uncovered, allowing visitors to marvel at the achievements of the Ancient Romans. There is also a fantastic museum, which provides additional information about the day-to-day life in the city. It all gives an fascinating insight into this one-of-a-kind site, which can bewilder first time visitors who weren’t expecting quite such an amazing experience.
Finally, it is important to remember that as with all tourist destinations, there is nothing wrong with looking up online what previous visitors experienced and post their reviews before you go. As one visitor attested, “We had read a lot before we went and were really surprised what was really there. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other networked media were useful sources of reviews, making us feel more secure before we went.”
Has the Eruption Affected Visitor Access?
The eruption of Vesuvius had a catastrophic effect on the city, ensuring its place in history, although very few residents were lucky enough to escape its full force. Due to the sheer scale of the disaster the town was largely lost, with most of the population dying over a period of days. Remarkably though, Pompeii ultimately survived and over the centuries, many exciting new discoveries have been made in the region. This has had a limited effect on modern access to the site itself, but visitors don’t often get to experience the whole city unless on one of the guided tours.
The main challenge for visitors is having enough time to explore the ruins, especially due to the sheer size. The question of ‘ Is Pompeii closed?’ is really only relevant if the site is currently closed and that is rarely the case. Conversely, the main challenge is having enough time to explore the ruins and often visitors tend to be overwhelmed by what they find. Many experienced travelers recommend going with a professional guide that can help manage your time and not miss out any of the must-see sites.
The Ancient Roman site has been placed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list, the global benchmark for heritage protection and conservation, and is a must-see for anyone looking to explore. With over 2.5 million visitors each year, there are certainly plenty of people keen to explore!
An Alternative to Visiting the Ruins
For those who can’t make it to Pompeii, there are several virtual tours available online. Most are accessible on a tablet, mobile phone or laptop, allowing users to explore the ruins without having to travel to the destination. Many of these tours offer an interactive experience, allowing visitors to explore the ruins in great detail, as if they were really there. Additionally, these virtual tours are great educational tools, with the potential to learn more about the site whilst not taking in-person. However, it is rarely a substitute for a physical visit as you cannot have the same level of exploration, not to mention the real sensation of being in a historical site.
One serious drawback of Pompeii is that it’s very difficult to separate fact from fiction. The eruption of Vesuvius has been a popular topic for books and movies over on, yet these sources often sensationalize the events of the time, adding Hollywood levels of drama and melodrama to the mix. Again, this is why the experience of visiting the ruins with an expert guide is often preferable to virtual tours.
Should We Travel to Pompeii?
If you’re travel-savvy and understand the rules and regulations required in order to visit Pompeii and Italy as a whole, then it could be a brilliant option to explore. Just because a destination is not accessible due to pandemic restrictions, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy that place. Doing your research on any potential visits and taking the necessary safety precautions should always be your first priority.
Pompeii is a remarkable tourist attraction, undoubtedly worth a visit for anyone looking for a unique and memorable experience, but don’t expect the ruins to be a priority for the Italian authorities. Non-essential services and sites have been closed due to the pandemic, despite restrictions having been relaxed recently, so if you’re planning to visit Pompeii, please check the website first for any updates.
The Lifeblood of the Region; tourism
It’s estimated that tourism accounts for around 30% of the economy in the wider region of Campania, with many families relying on money from tourists to survive. The catastrophe of the eruption of Vesuvius is widely thought to be a key factor in the decline of the once-great Roman Empire, with many compelling historical facts still to be explored in what is widely regarded one of history’s greatest real-life mysteries.
The destruction of the city left more than 6,000 Roman and Greek buildings submerged in ash, with many displaying the beautiful and complex mosaics that were fashionable at the time. Many of these mosaics have now been restored, with visitors able to admire the intricate detail, breathtakingly preserved and drawn to the surface.
It is a sad fact that for many locals in the region, the pandemic has been financially devastating. As visitor numbers drop to zero, many have found themselves out of work, clinging to any possible measure of survival.
That’s why sites like the ancient ruins of Pompeii are an invaluable resource for locals and for the people of the region, providing an income during hard times. And, with the restrictions on in-person visitors, an increase in virtual visitors may be one way to help support the local economy.
Talks to Reopen Pompeii as a Covid-Safe Zone
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has recently called for the opening of potential popular tourist sites, such as Pompeii and other areas of Campania, as a way to boost the economy. This measure has been met with some criticism due to many potential health risks, including overcrowding and the inability to enforce mask-wearing and social distancing protocols.
Pompeii is safely reopened, but the local government is requesting that visitors honor the rules by adhering to specific protocols, such as wearing a face mask in certain areas and maintain social distancing. Additionally, there are currently a limited number of visitors allowed per day, with ticket prices doubled. Despite these measures, the authorities are hopeful that it will be possible to safely reopen the ruins by the end of 2021.
The Horrifying Reality of Vesuvius’ Devastating Eruption
It is easy to forget, when admiring restoration efforts, that the history behind the ruins of Pompeii is inextricably linked with a horrifying natural disaster. Over two thousand people lost their lives in the eruption of Vesuvius, buried in the thick layers of volcanic ash that still cover the city today. It’s said that the victims froze in fear, unable to escape the pumice stone and ash that pelted down around them, their remains still in Pompeii’s current state today.
As a result, the city offers a unique educational experience for any visitor, as well as a unique opportunity to gain an accurate perspective on the horrific short and long-term consequences of natural disasters.
Though it can offer an overwhelming amount of information, visiting Pompeii allows visitors to understand the sheer vulnerability of the planet and provides the correct context needed to understand the scale of the event. It may be possible to view videos or read books online, but without the possibility to get a physical, hands-one experience and explore the ruins, it’s impossible to truly appreciate the events that occurred in 79AD
Conclusion; Is Pompeii Closed?
In conclusion, the ancient city of Pompeii is not currently closed and remains open for visitors who are able and willing to adhere to the relevant health and safety regulations. Those who are keen to visit the ruins are encouraged to book their tickets in advance and research the site before their visit. Travelers should also bear in mind that the ruins of Pompeii offer a unique opportunity to appreciate the legacy of the Roman Empire and provides a gruesome reminder of the destructive power of nature.