It is through this gate that most tourists enter and exit Pompeii. (It's a
short walk to the train station.) Before the city was buried in 79 A.D.,
this was quite near the sea, hence its modern name, "Porta Marina."
But the sea is about a kilometer away today, thanks to the massive amount of
dirt deposited by the eruption of Vesuvius. With a double entry, one for
pedestrians and another for carts and carriages, this is a fascinating
passageway into the city. It was likely highly decorated in Roman times.
It is not necessary to visit the excavation site with a guide. But if you want one, this is where you'll find them. If you hire one, you'll find he speaks English well and knows all sorts of information -- truth and tall tales -- about the city. (You shouldn't believe everything you're told -- even at this website, perhaps.) If you don't hire a guide, you will need a map and guidebook if you wish to know what it is you're seeing. Several guidebooks of various sizes can be purchased at a reasonable price (if you'll haggle) before you enter the ruins. Tourists can now rent handsets for an Audioguide service, available in Italian, English, French, German and Spanish. A nice map is included with the Audioguide devices. Also in this area outside the Porta Marina, there is a baggage claim where you can leave anything you don't want to carry around Pompeii (except for small children, of course).