Herculaneum: Go on a journey to ancient Rome and experience history up close!

Mount Vesuvius's eruption in 79 AD not only devastated Pompeii but also sealed the fate of its lesser-known neighbour, Herculaneum. Today, Herculaneum Archaeological Park serves as a striking window into the lives of its once-thriving residents. Explore a labyrinth of stories, artifacts and moments marked by the pyroclastic flow of the eruption of Vesuvius.

The Vivid Vestiges of Herculaneum Archaeological Park

Intimate Urban Fabric

Herculaneum was smaller than Pompeii, yet its urban landscape was dense and richly layered. The city layout provides a comprehensive view into the daily lives of ancient Romans. Narrow lanes weave between domestic complexes and public spaces, showcasing the mingling of different societal classes. The variety of homes, from luxurious mansions to modest apartments, reflects a community diverse in wealth and status. Mosaics and wall paintings, better preserved here than in Pompeii due to the nature of the volcanic material, offer insights into the aesthetics and aspirations of its inhabitants.

Exceptional Preservation

The depth of the volcanic material that buried Herculaneum resulted in exceptional preservation. Unlike Pompeii, which was submerged in ash, Herculaneum was engulfed by a hot pyroclastic surge, preserving organic materials such as wooden furnishings, textiles, and even food. This offers a remarkable understanding of the socio-cultural and economic facets of the city. Items like beds, shelves, and wooden partitions that would have decayed elsewhere still stand testament to the life that once flourished.

The Shoreline’s Tale

One of the most haunting sites in Herculaneum is its ancient shoreline. As excavators dug, they uncovered a series of arches where many inhabitants sought refuge hoping the sea would save them. Tragically, the pyroclastic flow reached them, and today, skeletal remains alongside personal belongings narrate their last moments. Each skeleton is a silent narrative of hope, despair, and the human instinct for survival.

Sacred and Profane

Herculaneum's architecture beautifully showcases the sacred and secular facets of Roman life. The Suburban Baths provide insight into the communal and hygienic practices, while the House of the Black Hall stands out with its stunning frescoes and intricate floor mosaics, illustrating the lavish lifestyles of the affluent. The city's religious fervor is evident in places like the Shrine of the Augustales, dedicated to the worship of the emperors as deities.

Digital Reconstructions

Modern technology is bridging the gap between the past and present at Herculaneum. Sophisticated 3D modeling and virtual reality initiatives provide visitors with immersive experiences by reconstructing the ancient city and providing a virtual tour of its streets, houses and temples. This blend of ancient relics with cutting-edge tech makes the journey both informative and immersive.

 

Highlights of Herculaneum Archaeological Park

  • House of the Wooden Partition: A marvel of preservation, this house boasts a wooden screen, almost entirely intact. The partition provides insights into Roman interior design and the importance of versatile living spaces
  • Villa of the Papyri: Named for the cache of papyrus scrolls found inside, this luxurious villa offers a window into the intellectual pursuits of the era. The scrolls, though charred, are being deciphered, promising a wealth of literary treasures
  • Central Thermae: Herculaneum's main bath complex, divided into male and female sections, speaks of the Roman appreciation for leisure and community bonding. Frescoes, mosaics, and the architecture itself narrate tales of social interactions and hierarchies
  • Samnite House: Among the oldest buildings in Herculaneum, this structure is an architectural testament to the pre-Roman Samnite culture, offering layers of historical insight
  • College of the Augustales: A grand edifice dedicated to the worship of Rome's first emperors, this space with its intricate frescoes provides a deep dive into religious practices and imperial cults. 

 

Opening hours of the Archaeological Park of Herculaneum

Opening days and hours may vary, please check opening times directly on the attraction website. 

March 16th to October 14th:Daily 8:30 am – 7:30 pm 

The last admission is at 6:00 pm. 

The archaeological site must be left at 7:00 pm. 

October 15th to March 15th:Daily 8:30 am – 5:00 pm 

Closed: December 25th, January 1st 

The last admission is at 3:30 pm. The archaeological site must be left at 4:40 pm. 

The closing times indicated refer to the closing of the Park gates. Therefore, it is recommended to leave the archaeological area and refreshment areas and head for the exit on time.    

 

Reservations for the Archaeological Park of Herculaneum

Admission to Herculaneum is included in the Naples City Pass. A reservation is not necessary.

 

Restrictions for the Archaeological Park of Herculaneum

  • Luggage: Bags or backpacks larger than 30x30x15 cm cannot be brought into either Herculaneum or Pompeii.
  • Locker Room: Right beside the ticket counter, there’s a luggage storage room where the visitors can leave their bags and other personal belongings free of cost.
  • Parking: There’s parking available at an underground parking garage located near the entrance of the site. The approximate cost of parking is 3-4 euros per hour.
  • Accessibility: Most the streets and sidewalks have step-free access making most areas wheelchair-friendly and easy to access. You’ll spot plenty of metal bridges installed for wheelchair users and strollers. 

 

 

How to get to the Archaeological Park of Herculaneum

Bus: If you plan on hopping into a bus, you can opt for the public EAV buses. There’s a shuttle service from Naples to Mount Vesuvius as well.

Train: Board the Circumvesuviana train that runs between Naples and Sorrento. The closest train station is Ercolano Scavi, a quick 15 minutes walk away.

Car: If you choose to drive to Herculaneum, park your car at the underground parking garage and take a stroll around the streets as it’s the best way to explore Herculaneum. 

 

Address of the Archaeological Park of Herculaneum

Addresse:
Corso Resina, 80056 Ercolano (NA) 

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A visit to Herculaneum Archaeological Park is akin to flipping through the pages of a vivid history book, but with the sensory experience of walking its lanes, touching its walls, and feeling its stories. Lesser known than its counterpart, Pompeii, Herculaneum offers a more intimate, detailed view into Roman civilization, and perhaps, that's its charm. This historical gem beckons with its tales of yore, urging one to connect, reflect, and journey through time's corridors. A voyage to Herculaneum is not just about viewing ruins; it's about engaging with living history.

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