Located in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, Herculaneum was an ancient Roman town destroyed by volcanic pyroclastic flows in 79 AD. Its ruins are located in the comune of Ercolano near Naples.

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is famous as one of the few ancient cities that can now be seen in much of its original splendour, as well as for having been lost, along with Pompeii, Stabiae, Oplontis and Boscoreale, in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 that buried it. Unlike Pompeii, the deep pyroclastic material which covered it preserved wooden and other organic-based objects such as roofs, beds, doors, food and even some 300 skeletons which were discovered in recent years along the seashore. It had been thought until then that the town had been evacuated by the inhabitants.

Herculaneum was a wealthier town than Pompeii, possessing an extraordinary density of fine houses with, for example, far more lavish use of coloured marble cladding.

History

Ancient tradition connected Herculaneum with the name of the Greek hero Heracles, an indication that the city was of Greek origin. In fact, it seems that some forefathers of the Samnite tribes of the Italian mainland founded the first civilization on the site of Herculaneum at the end of the 6th century BC. Soon after, the town came under Greek control and was used as a trading post because of its proximity to the Gulf of Naples. In the 4th century BC, Herculaneum again came under the domination of the Samnites. The city remained under Samnite control until it became a Roman municipium in 89 BC.

Architecture

The buildings at the site are grouped in blocks (insulae), defined by the intersection of the east-west and north-south streets. 

The most famous of the luxurious villas at Herculaneum is the Villa of the Papyri. It was once identified as the magnificent seafront retreat for Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, Julius Caesar's father-in-law.The villa stretches down towards the sea in four terraces. Piso, a literate man who patronized poets and philosophers, built a fine library there, the only one to survive intact from antiquity.

The Central Thermae were bath houses built around the first century AD. Bath houses were very common at that time, especially in Pompeii and Herculaneum. Per common practice, there were two different bath areas, one for men and the other for women. These houses were extremely popular, attracting many visitors daily. This cultural hub was also home to several works of art, which can be found in various areas of the Central Thermae site.

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Address

Via Mare 38, Ercolano, Italy
See all sites in Ercolano

Details

Founded: 7th century BCE
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Italy

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Jacqui Morley (14 months ago)
Great breakfast room with a lovely room. Friendly staff who spoke excellent English. Great location.
Baz 909 (15 months ago)
We actually stayed in the attached Ruins B&B. High quality fittings and really impressed especially as this place overlooks the Heraculaneum Roman ruins buried by Vesuvius. Easy walk to local train station for cheap travel around the bay of Naples.
Don Green (2 years ago)
All the usual 5-star appreciation for a small hotel. Especially: * Very friendly, helpful staff. * Beautiful location, right next to the entrance to Herculaneum. Although a fee is charged to enter Herculaneum, the gate is past a long walkway, alongside the ruins, so we visited several times, drinking in the experience, in addition to our visit down into the ruins. * This is a lovely little Italian town, and in our October visit only a small percentage of the people we saw were tourists. I liked staying here, seeing the interactions of Italians who live here. * Breakfast was extensive and delicious. We generally skipped lunch, because we felt well fed from our breakfast.
Donny White (2 years ago)
When my family arrived we were greeted by the two nicest staff members at the desk. It was so nice to walk into an absolutely beautiful room with air conditioning. Dinner time there was extremely romantic, and the food tasted absolutely amazing. Even though there was only one lady serving for dinner, she was still very friendly and got our food to us in a timely manner. Breakfast was good. I was hoping for something more filling but maybe that is just a cultural thing, but the food they had for breakfast was still good. We hope to travel to Herculaneum again soon, and if I do we will definitely be staying here again. Clean, Friendly, and Modern rooms.
John Head (2 years ago)
If at all possible you should spend some time there. Amazing artifacts, beautiful mosaic tile still intact. A guided tour would be best.
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