Herculaneum ruins

Corso Resina 224, 80056, Ercolano
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Duration

1h 40minuti

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Participants

Unlimited

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Pets allowed

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Supports in English or French

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Suitable for children

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Parking available

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Couples

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Barrier-free

About this activity

The archaeological area of Herculaneum ruins rises on the southwest slopes of Mount Vesuvius, on a promontory overlooking the sea that overlooks the coastline. The ancient city of Herculaneum was accidentally found by a farmer and the excavations have brought to light most of the city struck by the eruption of 79 AD and buried by a thick layer of pyroclastic material up to 23 meters high.

Why you must visit Herculaneum ruins

At the foot of Mount Vesuvius, the city was the volcano’s first victim, and therefore the first wall of lava, ashes, debris and gases covered Herculaneum completely a little after midnight on 25 October 79 AD. The previous day, it had been plunged in a cloud of debris leaving it without sunlight.

Dyonisus of Halicarnassus attributed the founding of Herculaneum to Heracles returning from Iberia, while Strabo reports that the city first belonged to the Oscans, then the Etruscans and Pelasgians, and finally the Samnites.

When it rebelled against Rome during the Social War, it was attacked and conquered in 89 BC by the envoy of Silla, Titus Didius, and was thereafter involved in the municipalization process that affected all of central-southern Italy.

The ancient Herculaneum became soon a residential place for the Roman aristocracy, thanks to villas and wonderful residences, it became a holiday resort for Romans at the end of the Republican period. The city had its heyday with the tribune Marco Nonio Balbo, where many buildings were built, such as the Basilica, the theatre, the aqueduct, the two thermal complexes and the walls of the city were restored.

Wealthier than its neighbouring Pompeii, the town is full of beautiful buildings. The different floors of most of the buildings are still intact and it is possible to see the magnificent frescoes and mosaics covering the walls of palaces, public buildings and mansions.

On the far side of the city are the most luxurious villas overlooking the sea, notably the Villa dei Papiri, which was the luxurious retreat of Julius Caesar’s father-in-law.

The digs began in 1738, and continued using the technique of underground tunnels and exploratory and ventilation shafts until 1828, when the “open-air” digs were authorized, and carried out until 1875. After a very long interruption, in 1927 Amedeo Maiuri began the work once more, and continued to lead the digs until 1958. Additional work was done in 1961, in Insula VI and along the main street, or Decumanus Maximus. The last thirty years have concentrated on exploring the ancient shoreline, corresponding to the southernmost strip of the archeological area.

A good part of it still remains covered under the current urban settlement.
The conservation phenomenon is absolutely original and unparalleled, returning organic finds, such as fabrics, vegetables, furniture and parts of wooden buildings, but above all the upper floors of buildings and with them a precise idea of ​​construction techniques.

Today, the town of Ercolano lies extremely close to the ruins of Herculaneum, creating an interesting contrast.

The most important domus

Now the archaeological site of the Herculaneum ruins consists of 26 domus, 10 public buildings and various shops.

Houses that you must absolutely visit are: the House of the Deers, with a mosaic floor and frescoed walls; the House with large Portal, whose name derives from the beautiful portal with semi-columns and brick cornice; the House of Neptune and Amphitrite, rich in decorations, whose name derives from the glass paste wall mosaic depicting Neptune and Amphitrite which adorns the east wall of the room.

The most important things to know about Herculaneum ruins

In the 90s excavations were carried out in the open air, in the area called “New excavations”, connected to the archaeological park by a trench that, where there is the House of Aristides, continues through a tunnel reaching Vico Mare. From 2007 to 2009, thanks to European Funds, nex excavation and restoration works were carried out, thanks to which it is now possible to admire and visit structures belonging to the Villa dei Papiri, already explored by underground tunnels in the 18th century.

Curiosity about Herculaneum ruins

  • The first excavations conducted by Prince Emanuele Maurizio d’Elboeuf went to intersect the scene of the Theater of Herculaneum, initially mistakenly identified as the Temple of Hercules.
  • In 1997 the site became part of the UNESCO World Heritage List, along with the ruins of Pompeii and Oplonti. Herculaneum is better preserved than Pompeii. The city’s houses, baths, taverns, temples and figures are undamaged; therefore, you will get a real sense of the splendour of this Roman city.
  • Most of the finds discovered today are housed in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples.
  • From 2008, thanks to the Virtual Archaeological Museum, you can see what the city of Herculaneum was like before the eruption.
     

Facilities

Servizi inclusi

Discount

  • Full ticket 13€, reduced ticket 2€ for citizens of the European Community between 18 and 25 years, free of charge for all those under 18 and over 65 years.
  • First Sunday of the month could be free.

Activity's Location

Corso Resina 224, 80056, Ercolano

    How to arrive

  • Getting to the Herculaneum ruins

    To reach the Herculaneum ruins follow the indications or push the button 'Get indications'.rnGet to Herculaneum ruins by public transportrnFrom Napoli Piazza Garibaldi, take the Circumvesuviana line that goes to Herculaneum (Ercolano Scavi station). Then, 500m on foot.rnGet to Herculaneum ruins by carrnTake the A3 motorway from Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi. Continue on Corso Arnaldo Lucci and at the roundabout take the 2nd exit, then take Via Galileo Ferraris. Follow A3 in the direction of Via del Corallo in Portici. Take the exit towards Ercolano from A3. Continue on A3 and take the exit towards Ercolano, then continue on Via del Corallo. Take Via IV Novembre in the direction of Via Vittorio Veneto in Ercolano. At the roundabout take the 2nd exit and take Via del Corallo. Continue on Via Canalone for 170m. Continue on Via Pugliano for 95m. From Via Pugliano turn slightly on the left. Finally at the roundabout take the 3rd exit and take Via Vittorio Veneto. Herculaneum ruins are in front of you.n

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