The Forum | Explore the Political and Religious Fulcrum of Pompeii
The Forum was the centre of trade, politics, culture and religion in ancient Pompeii, Rome. It was also a thriving market and the seat of many beautiful temples, administrative quarters and legal offices in a once sophisticated Roman city. While political activities were confined to the northern corners of the Forum, the rest of the area was expanded into large markets and public gathering spaces. It occupied quite a large area measuring 157 x 38 meters with a fine view of Mount Vesuvius.
Why Visit the Forum at Pompeii?
- Catch a glimpse of the Roman public life in the centre of Pompeii, the second most visited attraction in Italy after the Colosseum
- Seat of political and religious power in Ancient Rome
- Buildings at the Forum reflect influences of fashion, culture, politics and religion.
- Restoration of artwork and ancient Roman buildings makes the Forum a hot spot for history buffs and all visitors to marvel at the beauty of the Pompeii ruins.
The Pompeii Forum Highlights
Temple of Jupiter
The Temple of Jupiter (equivalent to the Greek God Zeus) was the central temple of Pompeii standing on the northern side of the Forum. It was built around 150 BC and holds the significance of replacing the cult of Apollo with Roman God Jupiter as the central deity of Pompeii. The Temple of Jupiter was also a site of worship for Minerva and Juno (the Roman versions of Greek Goddesses Athens and Hera).
Temple of Apollo
The Temple of Apollo is seated in a sacred site to the north of the Basilica on the western side of the Forum. The temple was originally built in the 5th century BC by the Etruscans and remained the patron deity of commerce and trade in Pompeii until the cult of Jupiter began through Roman influence. The Temple of Apollo was intensely damaged in the 62 AD earthquake and also reconstructed before Pompeii was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
Pompeii Basilica was a civil and apolitical centre that was built somewhere around 120 BC. It stood on the western side of the Forum measuring 24 meters by 64 meters. Initially functioning as a market, the Basilica was turned into a court with a two-story tribunal in its depths.
Temple of the Lares Publici
Located on the east side of the forum, the Temple of Lares Pulici was constructed as a sanctuary for the outfaced emperor Augustus and the state of Lares. Measuring around 18 by 21 meters, Lares are statues dedicated to ancient Roman Gods, patrons of families and the city of Pompeii. The structure was an open area with sacrificial alters in the centre but most of the interiors of the temple have now perished.
Macellum served as the main food market for Pompeii residents and the neighbouring villages. Built in the 1st century BC, it extended into a rectangular area measuring 37 by 27 meters under the Romans. Many small shops occupied the area with a shrine dedicated to the royal family at the end of the open-air market. Archaeological excavations reveal that fish was sold under a round roof supported by pillars right at the centre of the marketplace. Today, only parts of the central pillars remain where many fish scales were discovered in a ditch.
Dating back to around 80 BC, the Forum Baths are located right behind the Temple of Jupiter. It had separate entrances for the men’s and women’s sections. The men’s section had an apodyterium (a dressing room), a tepidarium (medium temperature baths), a frigidarium (cold baths) and a caldarium (hot baths). Careful attention was given to decorations and storage in the rooms while also having a big bronze canister for heating water. Although the structure was heavily damaged during the earthquake in 62 AD, the current stature is a result of subsequent restoration efforts.
Brief History of the Forum
The Forum was built around the 4th century BCE near a crucial communication point that connected Neapolis, Nola and Stabiae. Constructed with volcanic tuff and solidified lava, there were many shops in the area that were eventually conquered and expanded by the Romans in around the 2nd century BCE.
The complete renovation by the Romans included various cultural and political buildings rising up. Under Roman emperor Augustus, restoration works were carried out during the 1st century BCE which included new structures like the building of Eumachia, the sanctuary of Augustus and the Macellum.
Following the devastating effects of the earthquake in 62 AD, revival efforts began in the whole of Pompeii city including the Forum. The results and remains of this revival are what we see today in and around the Forum.
Pompeii Forum Rediscovery and Reconstruction
The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD left the Forum area along with the city of Pompeii under ash and debris. Soon after the eruption, many survivors and thieves rushed to salvage any valuables including marble statues and other precious items from the Forum area. After a long period of desertion, excavation was carried out beyond the layers of ash only in the 19th century.
Pompeii Forum Project
Pompeii Forum Project is an ongoing interdisciplinary research undertaking sponsored by the University of Virginia and the National Endowment for Humanities. The studies conducted, allow us to get a detailed analysis of the Forum’s early history from the Samnite period. It systematically documents the architecture and the interior decorations of the Forum in order to evaluate and interpret Pompeii’s urban history.
Plan Your Visit to Pompeii Forum
By bus - board a direct bus from Tiburtina Bus Station in Rome to Pompeii. The earliest bus is at 4:30 am and the last bus is at 6:30 pm.
By train - Take Frecciarossa and Freccibianca trains from Rome to Naples and cover the rest of the way via local inter-city trains. Cheaper and slower commute trains are also an option to reach Pompeii.
By car - It is a 2.5-hour drive from Rome to Pompeii on the E45 autostrada via Strada Statale covering 245 km.
Monday to Friday - 9 am to 5 pm
Saturday and Sunday - 8:30 am to 5 pm
Best time to visit the Forum in Pompeii
The best time to visit the Forum in Pompeii is early in the day when the gates open for visitors.
The off-season from November to March is a recommended time to visit the Pompeii Forum during the year as the summer months are extremely hot and crowded.
If you are planning an overnight trip to Pompeii, here are some places you can spend a comfortable night
Pompeii is a hub where you can enjoy Italian and seafood delicacies in some of the best restaurants the city has to offer
- La Betolla Del Gusto
- Casa Gallo Ristorante
- Mercato Pompeiano Resataurant
- Na’ Pasta
- Add'ù Mimì
- Garum Pompei 79 d.C.
- New Machiavelli Restaurant
- Carry small bags while exploring the Forum at Pompeii. The staff is strict about preserving and reducing damage to the ruins and hence big bags and heavy luggage will not be allowed.
- Carry a water bottle along with you as exploring the Forum means walking around in the sun for long durations, There are drinking water taps available for you to refill.
- Wear light and airy clothes and make sure to carry comfortable shoes/footwear.
- You can also carry light snacks to crunch on as you move around exploring.
- Do book a guided tour in advance to skip the crowds and hassle at the entrances.
- Get a map of the Forum and neighbouring attractions so that you do not lose your away among the ruins.
- Carry plenty of sunscreen to keep you safe and comfortable while you explore the Pompeii Forum.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Pompeii Forum
The Forum was the political and religious centre of the ancient city of Pompeii. It consists of administrative buildings, legal offices, temples and many other significant structures.
Elections, public speeches, religious ceremonies, social gatherings and business meetings are some major activities believed to have been the essence of the Pompeii Forum.
The Forum was built around the 4th century BCE during the Samnite period and was further expanded under the Roman empire.
Some highlights of the Forum are the Pompeii Basilica, Temple of Apollo, Temple of Jupiter, Forum Baths, Triumphal Arches, Temple of Lares Publici, Macellum and many more.
By bus - Tiburtina Bus Station in Rome to Pompeii. By train - Frecciarossa and Freccibianca trains from Rome to Naples (2h) and then to Pompeii by local inter-city trains or cheaper and slower commute trains from Rome to Pompeii (4h). By car - It is a 2.5-hour drive from Rome to Pompeii on the E45 autostrada via Strada Statale covering 245 km.
The Pompei Forum is open from 9am to 5pm on weekdays and 8:30 am to 5pm on weekends.
The best time to visit the Forum is during the off-season from November to March.
No. There are paid municipal as well as private parking spaces available outside the Archaeological park.
Small pets are allowed if they are kept on a leash.
It typically takes two to three hours to explore all attractions in and around the Pompeii Forum.