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Principal Streets


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Schematic of Pompeii's major arteries

Street Layout

The layout of Pompeii's streets developed over time, as the city grew from a small Oscan town to a substantial Roman settlement.  As the Roman way of life gradually took hold, the town was extended inside its defensive walls with the construction of new commercial and residential areas. The irregular layout of streets, still evident around the Forum area, gave way to a more structured network with the formation a grid made up of a series of east-west (decumani) and north-south (cardi) intersecting streets.  Some of Pompeii's principal streets are examined here in more detail.  All the street names used are modern.

Note: Google's Street View is now available for a large part of Pompeii. If you wish to take a virtual tour of Pompeii's streets, visit Google Maps and use the interface provided there. For those of you with Firefox, a more familiar interface is also available which provides 8 different starting points for your tour (Internet Explorer appears to have some issues with this interface, and tends to allow only a single view of each site).


Via dell'Abbondanza (The Decumanus Maximus)


The Via dell'Abbondanza, Pompeii's Decumanus Maximus, was one of the two principal decumani of the city (the other consisted of the Via di Nola and its extensions into the Via dell Fortuna and the Via delle Terme), and together these two streets formed the main east-west axis which traversed the entire urban area.
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The western part of the Via dell'Abbondanza connected the Via Stabiana, the Cardo Maximus, with the Forum, after which the street continued as the Via Marina. This first length of the Via dell'Abbondanza belongs to the earliest phase of Pompeii's development as it grew around the area of the Forum. As the town continued to expand, the street was extended beyond the Via Stabiana until it reached the Sarno Gate.
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This long street connected the most important areas of the city from the Forum in the west to the Stabian Baths and on to the Amphitheatre and Large Palaestra in the east. It's junction with the Via Stabiana is known as the Intersection of Holconius, after a statue to M. Holconius Rufus found there. At this junction is a fountain (left) erroneously identified with the personification of Abundance, from which the street takes its modern name.


Via Stabiana (The Cardo Maximus)

The Via Stabiana, the Cardo Maximus, is one of the three main cardi of Pompeii (the other two are the route made up of the Via di Mercurio-Via del Foro-Via delle Scule and the Via di Nocera). Cardi are the major streets that cross the city on a north-south axis. The picture opposite is part of one of the other major cardi, the Via di Mercurio, looking south towards the Forum.

The route followed by the Via Stabiana was originally that of the main road joining Pompeii to Stabiae and Sorrentum to the south.
As the town developed, the road became its major north-south artery. The road was, through time, lengthened as far as the Vesuvius Gate to the north and, as a consequence, it linked with the two major decumani, the Via dell'Abbondanza and the Via di Nola, thus forming the beginnings of the grid pattern that was to influence all future development of the city.

The picture (right) is of the entension of the Via Stabiana, the Via del Vesuvio, looking north towards the Vesuvius Gate and the Castellum Aquae, Pompeii's terminus of the Aqua Augusta.

The Via Stabiana was the major road linking the areas within the city where large numbers of citizens congregated, such as the Stabian and Central Baths and the area around the theatres and the Temple of Isis.
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Via Consolare

The Via Consolare forms the northwest boundary of the network of Pompeii's streets and runs, for part of its length, parallel to a stretch of the city walls.

This was one of the early roads that dictated the layout of the city of Pompeii. What we see today is the historic route which led to Cumae. Its obvious cultural and commercial importance was augmented by the fact that it connected Pompeii with the Salinae Hercules (salt lagoons) which lay on the coast near Torre Annunziata.

Around the middle of the 2nd century BC, the Via Consolare, like the other city streets, was paved with polygonal basalt blocks, as evidenced by road cippi inscribed in Oscan with the names of the aediles of the Samnite period who had promoted the undertaking; we are informed that this street, which ran from the area of the Forum to the Herculaneum Gate, was known as the Via Sarina, or Salt Road, just as the Herculaneum Gate was known as Veru Sarinu, or Salt Gate.




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