Is Pompeii Crumbling?


The Roman city of Pompeii was buried during an eruption of Vesuvius in AD79 and remained hidden until excavations began in the 19h century. Now some two thirds of the ancient city has been revealed but there are fears that the combined effect of a high number of tourists visiting, the wet weather and poor maintenance are causing Pompeii to crumble.

Collapse and Recrimination

Just this week sections of buildings dramatically fell after heavy rain and there are recriminations in the air regarding the upkeep of the site leading to the intervention of the Italian Prime Minister. Having visited Pompeii on several occasions I believe it is imperative that the ruins are saved for future generations. This city is undoubtedly one of the most inspiring and striking places it is possible to visit and the historic significance of the sight is huge.

Imposing Backdrop

I can remember my first visit to Pompeii. I was awestruck by the scale of the excavations and the beauty of the city. The stunning buildings are a testament to the genius of the Romans but the backdrop of Vesuvius gives a feeling of past terrors and even impending doom. Vesuvius is very much alive and any future eruption could render attempts to save Pompeii rather futile. Nonetheless saving this city is crucial but difficult given the immense number of tourists who visit.

The Tourists

Every year 2.5 million travellers make a pilgrimage to Pompeii. It is inevitable that the crowds will have a detrimental effect on the roads and structures and so constant maintenance is essential. Visit on a busy day and there are thousands of people thronging the streets and queuing to enter the historic buildings. Inevitably people touch and lean on the structures and their footfall exacts wear and tear on the cobbled streets.


Window on the Past

It is not difficult to see why visitors feel the desire to explore as soon as they walk through the entrance. The architecture is striking with many buildings remaining remarkable intact. You can feel the ghosts of the past as you walk around and there is a fabulous insight into the daily lives of the citizens. You can visit kitchens which still boast storage urns and ornate counter tops, living areas with stunning frescos and courtyards with healthy plants and trees. It is easy to imagine what the homes looked like before the disaster and the displays of functional and decorative homewares demonstrate the tastes and interests of the time.

Action Required

Pompeii provides a unique insight into an ancient civilisation but could become a victim of its own popularity. Concerns have been raised over many years regarding the level of investment into the upkeep of the sight. One can only hope that the shock of the recent collapses will force the authorities to take action to preserve the city and to more effectively manage the crowds who flock to the site. One of the charms of Pompeii is the ability to roam freely around the buildings and monuments but this privilege could be the city’s undoing.


Article by Sally Stacey