Herculaneum Tourist Attractions
SituationThe remains of Roman Herculaneum lie within the area of modern Ercolano (until 1969 known as Resina), 8km/5mi southeast of Naples, near the Gulf of Naples in a bay of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Although much of Herculaneum is still buried under the modern town, it offers a vivid impression of the aspect of an ancient city, comparable with the remains of Pompeii and Ostia.HistoryProbably founded by Greek settlers under the name of Herakleion and later occupied by Oscans, Etruscans and Samnites, Herculaneum fell into Roman hands in 89 B.C. In A.D. 63 it suffered severe damage in an earthquake, and in A.D. 79 it was buried under ashes and pumice during an eruption of Vesuvius. At that time the town, a favorite summer resort of the Romans, had a population of perhaps 6,000. Subsequent eruptions increased the depth of ashes and lava to between 12 and 30m/40 and 100ft. The hardness of this covering, in contrast to the situation at Pompeii, hindered the activity of plunderers in antiquity.ExcavationsFrom 1719 onwards shafts were sunk into the site at random, yielding some splendid finds which now rank among the principal treasures of the National Museum in Naples, including papyrus rolls and bronze statues. Systematic excavations carried on since 1927 have brought to light the sumptuous villas of wealthy merchants, the furnishings of which have so far as possible been left in situ. In contrast to the mostly single-storyed buildings of Pompeii, the houses of Herculaneum are mostly of two or three storys, with much use of wood in half-timbered construction, doors and staircases. Extensive excavations are still in progress. Severe damage took place during an earthquake in November 1980.
Map of Herculaneum Attractions