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Palaestra of Pompeii

 Palaestra of Pompeii






Palaestra of Pompeii  Palaestra of Pompeii

Location: Regio II

Insula 7


Great or Large Palaestra of Gymnasium in Pompeii is the prototype of an antique gym for wealthy residents of the city. Most of the sports club is occupied by a large field, surrounded by columns and buildings around the perimeter. A large pool was dug in the center.

Great  Palaestra is located south of Via delle Abbondanza in the eastern part of the city, near the amphitheater. It was built during the reign of Emperor Octavius ​​Augustus. It is widely believed that this large sports field was the answer of Pompeii residents to the call of Augustus to improve the moral and physical condition of young people in the upper classes, but there is little evidence to support this point. Most likely it was only part of the overall growth project of the city. Such buildings demonstrated the wealth of the city.

The sports building has an area of ​​140 x 105 meters. The Great Palaestra was built as the Samnite Palaestra could no longer accommodate the growing population of Pompeii. Palaestra was essentially a big stadium. Intended for gymnastic exercises and sports activities. On three sides, the vast area was surrounded by a portico with Ionic columns. The fourth bordered amphitheater. In the center was a swimming pool measuring 37 meters wide and 4 meters wide with a depth of 1 meter in the west and 3 meters in the east. That is, in fact, the Romans built swimming pools in modern design. In the southern part there are public toilets. Part of the northern wall was destroyed during the eruption, but was fairly easily restored so it did not crumble, but fell in one piece.

Interestingly, a Christian cryptogram was found on one of the columns. Although most of the inscriptions are not very different from the modern inscriptions in the toilet. Some inscriptions speak of sports games, the names of various gladiators and other information are mentioned. Apparently Big Palaestra was used for sports.


In the toilet of Grand Palaestra, archaeologists found a number of inscriptions. Most graffiti is obscene or sexual content, however, other inscriptions are much more meaningful. So a certain unknown schoolteacher complains that he was not paid. There are tips on choosing the right hairdresser and numerous references to gladiatorial battles that occurred in the adjacent amphitheater. These graffiti offer a much more mixed set of leisure activities. Big Palaestra toilet must have been especially popular with the crowd in the nearby Amphitheater, where there were no toilets. Poor visitors fighting games had to resort here to cope with their physiological needs.




Palaestra of PompeiiThe plaster mold (pictured on the left) from Pompeii was left by one of the victims. The form was found in Great Palaestra under the southern colonnade of the Great Palaestra near public toilets. He was probably caught off guard by the eruption and frantically tried to put on his boots and a raincoat with a hood, which he left in the changing room. By the time he tried to get out, it was too late. The poisonous vapor eruptions quickly killed him. Judging by the position of the hands, he tried to close his mouth with a raincoat, but, obviously, it did not help him much. His lifeless body was covered with layers of volcanic ash. The body was rotted long ago, leaving empty space that was filled with plaster. Today, its body is stored in the Pompeii Forum, Market Granary (Regio VII, Insula 7).


Pay attention to the plants that grow in Great Palestra. Their location is not accidental. The fact is that during the archaeological excavations, remains of the roots of large trees were found here. At the time of the eruption, they were almost 100 years old since the reign of Emperor Augustus to this Palaestra was almost a hundred years old. The current trees were planted as they grew during the eruption.


Palaestra of Pompeii

Palaestra of Pompeii

Palaestra of Pompeii

In the center of the sports field there was a large pool (l) measuring 34 x 22 m and a depth of 1 m in the west to more than 2 m in the east.