Thursday, July 31, 2014

The ruins of Pompeii



A dark cloud filled the air. No one knew exactly what was happening, but it was terrifying. They could see the smoke coming from the mountain, but there was no way to escape now. The last ships full of people left at the first smell of danger, and the water was now too rough to sail on. There was nothing left to do but take cover, and hope to wake up in the morning when it was all over. Ashes began to rain from the sky, covering everything. Sadly, some people would never wake the next day, as the black smoke sent a wave of poisonous gases through the town.

Mt Vesuvius - Italy
Mt Vesuvius in the distance


This is what happened in 79 AD in Pompeii. Once killed by the deadly fumes from Mt Vesuvius, the people were buried under feet of volcanic ash, preserved forever in the position they died in. The entire town was a perfectly intact tomb, which didn't begin being uncovered until the 18th century.

We knew we had to make the long journey to see this from Rome, as we had never seen anything like it and didn't know if we would ever be back. We took a train to Naples and then boarded the Circumvesuviana, which was completely covered in graffiti, to Pompeii. While on board this urban masterpiece, some children beggars came by, playing their accordions. It was a sad sight, and we anxiously awaited our arrival at the famous city.

the ruins of pompeii
The city of Pompeii, now in ruins

 The town was much bigger than I expected. We were given a map and an audio guide and left to wander on our own. It was an eerie feeling to be in this deserted town, knowing what happened so many years ago. The houses were mostly in ruins, but an arena and a few other things stayed mostly unphased, given it's age. We made our way to the first section with preserved bodies. It was a mother, arm extended, with a child curled up in fetal position right next to her. It was one of the saddest sights I have ever seen. We later saw more bodies, which always looked as it if the people were taking cover. There was even a preserved dog.

pompeii
Ruins of Pompeii

pompeii bodies

pompeii bodies

pompeii bodies

pompeii bodies

pompeii bodies

pompeii bodies


After a few hours of witnessing this, we were pretty depressed for the people and made the long journey back. We have done this type of morbid tourism on many occasions, and while I feel its an important piece of history and needs to be seen, I am always left saddened for the remainder of the day.

What was the saddest tourism you have ever done?

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