An entirely new part of Pompeii has recently been opened up to visitors for the first time. You can now see the city’s biggest thermal baths and a newly-discovered fresco that depicts a scene from Greek mythology.
The Central Baths (Terme Centrali) in Pompeii were under construction when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79AD. They had been designed to meet the needs of a growing city and were much bigger than the other baths in the city, which were smaller, darker and often overcrowded. They included a gymnasium, many baths, changing rooms, and a ‘sudatorium’ (or a sauna).
In the ruins, amidst the pillars and marble blocks that lie where they were abandoned on that fateful day, excavators also found the remains of a small child. The archaeologist in charge of the team, Alberta Martellone, told AFP “he or she was looking for shelter, and found death instead”. Also open to the public – after excavation work on its mosaic floors – is the House of Golden Cupids.
Now you can explore previously unseen parts of Pompeii
Also open to the public is a newly-discovered fresco located in the ruins of a Pompeiian merchant’s townhouse on the Via del Vesuvio. It depicts the Greek myth of Spartan queen Leda, mother of Helen of Troy, being seduced by Zeus (or Jupiter to the Romans) in the guise of a swan.
The remarkably well-preserved fresco is part of a series of exciting finds made on a newly-intensified dig made in the Regio V area of Pompeii (a previously unexplored part of the northern quarter that spans 56 acres). Other discoveries include a mosaic of the mythological hunter Narcissus, an important piece of graffiti, a 2000-year-old food counter., and the skeleton of a young man holding a bag of 22 coins, who seemed to have been running from the pyroclastic flow with a limp.
The dig and the Grand Pompeii Project (partially funded by the EU) was initiated in 2013. It marked the beginning of a new chapter for tourism in Pompeii, which saw new and more accessible guided tours, restoration projects and more. Pompeii is the second most visited tourist site in Italy (after the Colosseum) and saw almost 4 million visitors this year. To know more about Pompeii and see the full list of attractions, visit the official website here.