Visiting Herculaneum, A UNESCO World Heritage Site is easy. After visiting Pompeii during our trip to Naples, we knew we had to come back to the area to see Herculaneum.
Want to visit Pompeii too? Read our guide: The Ancient City of Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius.
Catch the train from the station in Sorrento. The journey took about 40 minutes and cost €4 each, with a return. The Circumvesuviana train can get very busy as it serves Herculaneum, Pompeii and the City of Naples. Take some water as it gets very warm and stuffy if packed full of people. Trains run every twenty minutes.
One thing to note here is that there are two stops, Ercolano and Ercolano Scavi. Depart at the latter and you are just a short walk from the archaeological site.
THE ANCIENT TOWN OF HERCULANEUM
Herculaneum, an ancient Roman coastal town destroyed by the pyroclastic flows caused by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD. Famous for its well-preserved buildings, frescoes, paintings. They found skeletons of some people fleeing the eruption in the 1980s. Other items like fabric, food and wood were also found well preserved.
In 1707, the site was unearthed by accident when a new well was being dug. It wasn’t until 1927, after a few small excavations, that the site was explored in a bigger way, and still is to this day. New discoveries are being made all the time.
They named the site a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. In 2010, the site suffered serious damage from storms and torrential rain. Many buildings collapsed, including the Schola Armaturarum, the Gladiators’ house.
THE FRESCOS OF HERCULANEUM
We spent a good few hours here just wandering from building to building. Unlike Pompeii, it was nowhere near as busy. Therefore, we found it more enjoyable. The frescoes and mosaics here are mind blowing.
THE HERCULANEUM SKELETONS
The skeletons of people fleeing the eruption of Mount Vesuvius were found sheltering in boat sheds in 1982. They believed everyone had escaped the eruption until they made this discovery. The skeletons that lie here today are fibreglass copies. This gives you an idea of how they huddled together when they died. They have since moved the original bones into storage for further examination.
The shore is now much further away because of the amount of ash and pumice that washed over the area and created a new coastline.
VISIT THE ANTIQUARIUM
Visit this small on-site museum. The museum and the archaeological park are open seven days per week and adult tickets cost €13.
In the museum is an almost intact carbonized wooden boat, found along the ancient seafront. They discovered it in 1982 and it is part of an incredible collection of other items found at the site.
This last image gives you an idea of how big the volcano is at it looks down over the new town of Ercolano, and the ancient town buried underneath. Will the beast awaken again? Only time will tell.
Learn more about Herculaneum: Herculaneum Archaeological Park.