Located at the intersection of the main axes of the original urban core, the Forum was the main square of the city and cart traffic was prohibited there. It was the heart of political and religious life, surrounded by religious, civil and commercial buildings.
The original layout of the Forum dates back to the 2nd Century BC. During the Imperial Age, the original tuff stone columns and structures were replaced with white limestone, it was re-paved and several buildings were added along the east side, replacing the shops previously there. By the 1st Century AD, the Forum was used to celebrate the Imperial House; to that end, honorary statues representing members of the Imperial Family were erected in front of municipal buildings, while those of illustrious citizens were displayed along the porticos.
The sculptures have not been recovered, perhaps because the Pompeians who returned after the eruption took whatever they could away with them.
The rectangular piazza is 38 meters wide and 142 meters long; it is paved with travertine and is enclosed on three sides by a portico. On one side, flanked by two triumphal arches, the “Seggestum”, the podium where orators spoke, can be found. Overlooking the entire Forum, almost framing it, the Public Administration buildings. Those were rebuilt after the earthquake in 62 AD, and not all of them at the same time.
The most recent of them still retains its marble floor and housed the administrators, the Tabularium (the archive) and the hall of the Decuriones. The buildings were cleverly hidden by porticos on three sides so that the only visible element was the temple dedicated to Jupiter on the north side.
The Comitium -a hall where people came to vote- opens up onto Via dell’Abbondanza. On one side a platform flanked by niches with statues is visible: it was used by administrators who presided over meetings and monitored the voting process.