• Pompeii's forum was the central hub of the city, with important buildings for justice, business, trade, markets, and worship located there.
  • The Temple of Jupiter and the Temple of Apollo were significant religious structures within the forum, representing the shift in Pompeii's main deity from Apollo to Jupiter under Roman rule.
  • Pompeii's archeological site, including the forum, is a must-visit attraction and should be explored over a couple of days due to its size, with nearby cities Herculaneum and Stabiae offering alternative options for exploring Vesuvius' preserved ruins.

Like other Roman cities, Pompeii had a forum. The ancient Forum of Pompeii is the first thing visitors get to see when they enter from the western entrance to the archeological site. Just as the ancient Forum of Rome was once the beating heart of Rome, so too, the Forum of Pompeii was the commercial heart of Pompeii.

Ominously, from the Pompeii Forum visitors can enjoy stunning views of Mt Vesuvius — the volcano that destroyed Pompeii and buried the forum in 79 AD. The Greek equivalent of a Roman forum was the agora; take the time to visit the reconstructed Greek agora when visiting Athens and discover where the functions of ancient Athens were carried out.

The Pompeii Forum: The Ancient Beating Heart Of Pompeii

The ruins of Pompeii with the outline of Mount Vesuvius in the background 
Photo by D Jonez on Unsplash
The ruins of Pompeii with the outline of Mount Vesuvius in the background 

The Pompeii Forum was the center of daily life in the city where all the main public buildings were focused (although the Amphitheater of Pompeii — the oldest known stone amphitheater — is located on the other side of the city).

The Pompeii Forum was the forum where the city's justice, business management, trade, markets, and the main places of citizen worship were located and took place. Political activities took place in the northern corners of the forum while the rest of it was mostly markets and public gathering spaces.

  • Size: 157 x 38 meters or 515 x 125 feet
  • Built: 4th century BC (Roman period from 2nd century BC)

The forum predates the Roman period and at the start of the Imperial Roman period, the forum was re-paved with travertine slabs.

As the Pompeii Forum is the first attraction in the archeological site of Pompeii from the main entrance, the Pompeii Forum is one of the most visited attractions of ancient Rome.

Related: Stabiae: See The Other Roman Town Buried Like Pompeii By Vesuvius

The Important Buildings Around The Pompeii Forum

Ruins At Pompeii
Ruins At Pompeii

A number of important buildings can be seen around the Pompeii Forum. Exploring the forum, visitors wander the ancient streets of Pompeii discovering shops, villas, theaters, and more.

The Temple of Jupiter

The Temple of Jupiter (the Roman equivalent to Zeus) was the central temple in Pompeii. It is located on the northern side of the forum and dates from circa 150 BC.

In the early days, the cult of Apollo was the central deity of Pompeii but over time, it was replaced with Jupiter after the Romans took over Pompeii. The gods Juno and Minerva (or Hera and Athena) were also worshipped there.

The Temple of Apollo

While Jupiter may have supplanted Apollo as the core deity of Pompeii, Apollo remained important. The Temple of Apollo is located on the western side of the forum.

It's an ancient temple being first built in the 5th century BC by the Etruscans. The building was badly damaged in 62 AD by an earthquake and was repaired in time for being buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD.

The Pompeii Basilica

The Pompeii Basilica was not a Christian church, instead, it was a civil and apolitical center building before the advent of Christianity (circa 120 BC). It is located to the west of the forum and was originally a market before being used as a court.

Pompeii Forum Baths

Built circa 80 BC the baths are found behind the Temple of Jupiter. The baths had separate male and female entrances for different men's and women's sections.

Aerial view of Pompeii from a drone
Aerial view of Pompeii from a drone

Other notable structures in the Pompeii Forum include the Temple of the Lares Publici, Triumphal Arches, public toilets (Romans had to go too), the Temple of Vespasian, the Building of Eumachia, Comitium, Municipal offices, and the Macellum (the main food market).

Related: Pompeii Had Ancient City Walls (& This Is What The Graffiti On Them Says)

Visiting Pompeii & The Forum Of Pompeii

Pompeii is one of the best ancient Roman attractions around today and perhaps the best preserved major Roman city. The gateway to Pompeii is the modern city of Naples, and it can be reached by taxi, guided tour, bus, or the suburban train from the Naples city center.

  • Opening Hours: 9:00 am to 7:00 pm (last entry at 5:30 pm)
  • Admission: 20 Euros ($23)

The Forum of Pompeii is unmissable for anyone coming from the main western entrance - it is almost the first thing visitors get to see at the archeological site.

Tourists at the Ancient Pompeii Forum
Photo by Aaron Spray
Tourists at the Ancient Pompeii Forum

That being said, the Pompeii archeological site is massive and it should be seen over a period of a couple of days (it is getting larger as the remaining third of Pompeii is gradually excavated).

Pompeii has many excellently preserved ancient Roman buildings, including the Villa of Mysteries whose frescos depict a bride being initiated into the Bacchic Mysteries in preparation for marriage.

Other nearby cities entombed by the eruption of Vesuvius are Herculaneum and Stabiae (both are worth visiting and lack the massive crowds of Pompeii).