Ancient Roman artifacts. Plaster body casts. A volcanic eruption. It’s not what you’d expect to experience in Orlando, but then again, the Orlando attractions always offer the unexpected. Presented by EDG and hosted by the Orlando Science Center, Pompeii: The Immortal City immerses you in the culture of Pompeii while keeping a safe, Atlantic ocean-sized distance between you and Mount Vesuvius. Exactly what does the exhibit entail? Before we get into that, it’s helpful to understand the history of Pompeii, so without further ado…
Let’s Travel Back in Time to Pompeii
Salve! If you’d lived in Pompeii, this is how you might have greeted your friend at your local thermopolium, an ancient quick service restaurant. The aromas of fragrant soups and pungent garum, a fermented fish sauce popular throughout Rome, would have filled the air as you waited for your food.
Quid agis hodie? How are you doing today, you might ask. You’d probably have to shout to be heard over the loud conversations in Greek, Oscan, and Latin from cooks and fellow customers as well as the din of nearby laborers. Noise aside, life in Pompeii was about as great as you’d expect in a flourishing Roman city with a population of nearly 20,000 residents. A series of earthquakes a few years ago had caused some damage, but had also cleared the way for new baths to be built. To the west, just beyond your sightline, lay the sparkling sea; to the north, the majestic Mount Vesuvius towered over the city.
On that fateful day in 79 AD, all that ended. Mount Vesuvius erupted with a fury like never before, giving residents no time to escape the falling ash and intense heat. In just 24 hours, Pompeii and neighboring Herculaneum were buried under layers of volcanic ash and pumice.
In the centuries that followed, Pompeii was forgotten. While the rest of the Italian peninsula dealt with the fall of the Roman Empire, factional infighting during the Middle Ages, and the temperamental artists of the Renaissance, the ancient city of Pompeii lay hidden under a blanket of ash and dirt.
In mid-1700s, while Naples was under Spanish control, King Charles of Bourbon decided he wanted a summer palace on the coast of Naples. Workers laying the foundations for the king’s palace were shocked when they rediscovered Herculaneum and Pompeii.
As Naples changed hands from the Spanish to the French, then finally claimed independence and joined unified Italy, excavations continued. Archeologists discovered that the ancient victims’ bodies had been preserved in the layers of ash. These bodies, now decomposed, had left a void in the ash. Archeologists filled these spaces with plaster to recreate the shape of the victims and suddenly Pompeii wasn’t just another excavation site – it was the rediscovered home of a complex society inhabited by people like you and me.
Modern excavations have revealed that it was not only the bodies that had been preserved in ash; it was also everyday items. Pottery, mosaics, frescos, and even entire villas survived, frozen in time. Pompeii: The Immortal City brings some original artifacts and replicas, as well as plaster body casts, from Pompeii to Orlando for you to see up close.
What to Expect at Pompeii: The Immortal City
Pompeii: The Immortal City will be on display at the Orlando Science Center from June 6 – September 7. Orlando is only one of four cities in the United States to host this exhibit. The exhibit was developed by TEMPORA in collaboration with Civita and Filmmaster and is based on the research of Italian museums Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli and Museo Galileo Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza, Firenze.
What can you expect to see at the exhibit? Well, Pompeii: The Immortal City includes:
- 80 original artifacts from Pompeii, including pottery, bronzes, and frescos
- 2 body casts
- 10 models and replicas, including table top models of the ancient city
- An immersive 360 experience that takes you back to that fateful day in Pompeii
Pompeii: The Immortal City is a family-friendly exhibition that’s designed not only to educate guests on the history and significance of Pompeii, but also to bring that history to life. The 360 experience offers a visual recreation of what it was like for citizens of Pompeii during the eruption. You’ll see Vesuvius exploding and covering the city with ash. You’ll also have a chance to get up close with ancient artifacts that were used in everyday life in Pompeii, and see how these ancient designs provided the foundations for modern-day objects.
At the end of the exhibit, you’ll see the two body casts – the forms of actual people who lived and worked in ancient Pompeii.
Where to Buy Your Orlando Science Center Tickets
You can purchase your tickets to the Orlando Science Center and Pompeii: The Immortal City online at the Orlando Science Center’s website. Pompeii: The Immortal City is a timed-entry event so you will need to select a time as well as a date for your visit. Tickets are capped at 10 per person. Your ticket to the exhibit will also include entry to the rest of the Orlando Science Center so you’ll be able to enjoy all of their exhibits including NatureWorks, DinoDigs, and KidsTown, an exploration area just for kids ages 0-7.
You’ll also have access to the 3D Digital Adventure Theater and the Dr. Phillips CineDome. Show times are listed online, so be sure to check it out when you are planning your visit to see if there are any screenings you’d like to attend. At the time of writing, one of the films playing in the CineDome is Volcanoes: The Fires of Creation, which would be an excellent complement to your visit to Pompeii: The Immortal City.
Stay near Orlando’s Manmade Volcano
After your adventure back in time to ancient Pompeii, rest up in modern, 21st century accommodations at Rosen Inn Pointe Orlando. We are a Universal Partner Hotel located on International Drive, near the popular waterpark Volcano Bay, which is home to the manmade volcano Krakatau. But don’t worry – unlike Mount Vesuvius, Krakatau’s nightly eruptions are a perfectly safe show of pyrotechnics, colorful lights, and fog. Book your Orlando getaway today by calling us at 407-996-8585 or by clicking the orange Book Now button at the top of this page.