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Ercolano (Herculaneum)

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

Corso Resina, 187, 80056 Ercolano NA, Italy

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps

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expert
Ambra
Local tour guide
"Visit Ercolano early in the morning to avoid the crowds that flock to Pompeii; you'll enjoy a more peaceful exploration of the well-preserved ruins. Plus, don't miss the ancient boat exhibit in the Herculaneum beach pavilion – it's a unique artifact that many tourists overlook."

What is Ercolano (Herculaneum)?

Ercolano, known in ancient times as Herculaneum, is a remarkably preserved archaeological site located in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, near modern-day Naples, in Italy. This ancient Roman town was once a wealthy seaside resort for Rome's elite before it was buried under volcanic ash and pumice following the catastrophic eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, just like its famous neighbor, Pompeii. However, Ercolano offers a unique snapshot into the past, as the volcanic material that submerged it carbonized and preserved wooden structures, frescoes, and artifacts to an exceptional degree—giving us an intimate glimpse into Roman life.

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History of Ercolano (Herculaneum)

The history of Herculaneum is intertwined with the broader narrative of the Roman Empire and its climax in the first century AD. The town was founded by the Greeks in the 4th century BC and later became a Roman municipium. It was a place of wealth and opulence, with luxurious houses and villas adorned with elaborate mosaics and stunning frescoes. The eruption of Vesuvius that entombed Herculaneum also preserved it, leaving behind an archaeological jewel that lay hidden for centuries. It wasn't until the 18th century that exploratory digging revealed the site's existence, and excavation has continued, albeit intermittently, ever since. Much of what we know about Roman daily life and architecture comes from the finds at Herculaneum and the work of dedicated archaeologists over the years.

Why is Ercolano (Herculaneum) Important?

The importance of Ercolano lies in its incredible state of preservation. Unlike Pompeii, which was covered in a layer of lapilli (small stones), Herculaneum was engulfed in a dense, 20-meter deep flow of mud and volcanic material that solidified into a tufa rock, sealing the city and therefore protecting buildings, objects, and even organic materials like food, cloth, and wood. This has provided unparalleled insights into the daily lives of ancient Romans, from the food they ate to the artwork that adorned their walls. The city serves as a tangible connection to our historical past, reminding us of the power of nature and the fragility of civilization. It is a site where history truly comes alive, acting as a poignant teaching tool for both experts and visitors alike.

Things to Do & See at Ercolano (Herculaneum)

Visiting Ercolano is like stepping back in time. You can walk ancient streets and peer inside the remaining houses, some still decorated with original frescoes and mosaics. The House of the Wooden Partition, with its intricate wooden screens, and the House of the Mosaic Atrium are must-see attractions. The site also has several fascinating public buildings, like the palaestra (sports ground) and the thermopolium, an ancient fast-food restaurant, which offer a glimpse into the communal aspects of Roman life. Be sure to visit the skeletal remains in the boathouses, a stark and emotional testament to the eruption's victims. For an in-depth experience, consider hiring a guide or using an audio guide, which can provide interpretations and accounts that breathe life into the stone ruins.

Moreover, there are often special exhibitions or areas that are opened for short periods of time, which can provide a rare chance to see parts of the site that are usually closed to the public due to conservation efforts. And, remember to wear comfortable shoes as you'll be traversing uneven surfaces that have withstood the test of time for nearly two millennia. Above all, take your time to absorb the atmosphere of this ancient place; it's a profound reminder of our shared human heritage.

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Frequently asked questions

What is Ercolano (Herculaneum) and why is it significant?

Ercolano, also known as Herculaneum, is an ancient Roman town located in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, near Naples, Italy. It was destroyed and buried in ash along with Pompeii during the eruption in 79 AD. The site is significant for its well-preserved artifacts and buildings that give a glimpse into the life of a Roman city.

How do I get to Ercolano (Herculaneum) from Naples?

To get to Ercolano (Herculaneum) from Naples, you can take the Circumvesuviana train from Naples' central station towards Sorrento and get off at the 'Ercolano Scavi' stop. The journey takes about 15-20 minutes.

What can I see at Ercolano (Herculaneum)?

Visitors to Ercolano (Herculaneum) can explore ancient houses, baths, temples, and streets all frozen in time by the volcanic ash. Noteworthy sites include the House of the Mosaic Atrium and the House of the Deer.

Do I need to buy tickets to visit Ercolano (Herculaneum) and how much do they cost?

Yes, you need to buy tickets to enter Ercolano (Herculaneum). The cost varies, with discounts available for EU citizens and free entry on certain days of the year. It's best to check the official site or contact local tourism offices for the latest pricing information.

Are there guided tours available at Ercolano (Herculaneum)?

Yes, guided tours are available at Ercolano (Herculaneum), offering in-depth insight into the history and significance of the various structures and artifacts within the archaeological site. Tours can be booked on-site or in advance through tour companies.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

Corso Resina, 187, 80056 Ercolano NA, Italy

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps