Herculaneum is a different town from Pompeii, despite both being destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the year 79 AD. This is because Herculaneum and Pompeii are frequently discussed in the same context. It was a more prosperous place than Pompeii, as evidenced by the more ornate houses and expensive marble cladding that adorned their exteriors. Herculaneum’s ruins are in astonishingly good shape, especially considering their age. This is because of the unique circumstances that led to their burial, which included a thick coating of tufaceous material that made excavation difficult but also preserved wooden frames and furniture from buildings (carbonized from the heat) and bits of cloth. This was because the material was buried under a thick layer of tufaceous material.
1. It’s a Historic Site
Although Pompeii is more popular today, Herculaneum offers a rare glimpse into Roman life. The pyroclastic material that covered Herculaneum carbonized and preserved more organic materials than the material covering Pompeii, granting scholars insights into daily life in ancient Rome.
One of the most interesting buildings in Herculaneum is the House of the Mosaic Atrium. This building features a beautiful mix of different styles of ancient Roman mural painting.
2. It’s a Great Vacation Spot
Though Pompeii is the more famous site, Herculaneum offers a much more intimate view of Roman life. It is better-preserved, less crowded, and covers a smaller area meaning it’s easier to explore with kids.
It is also home to some incredible finds. Well-preserved plunge pools, stylish mosaics, carbonized furniture, and even skeletons reveal what it was like to live there before the eruption of Vesuvius.
Graffiti has also been discovered which shed light on vulgarities in the Latin language and shows that more slaves could read than previously thought.
3. It’s a Great Investment
Herculaneum is a fascinating place and a great experience. Its residents had more time to escape during the 79 AD eruption of Vesuvius than Pompeii’s and so their houses, wooden furniture, and even carbonized loaves of bread are better preserved.
Herculaneum was a wealthy town and as such it is home to impressive houses with lavish decorations including colored marble cladding, frescoed walls, classic Roman furniture, and even wine racks. Many people tried to escape the pyroclastic surge by running towards the sea and into stone boathouses. Unfortunately, they died of suffocation from toxic gasses.
4. It’s a Great Learning Experience
While Pompeii garnered early attention from famous writers of the 18th century, Herculaneum remained relatively unknown. Herculaneum was a rich Roman town with a forum, a basilica, a palaestra (gymnasium), shops, and homes that were well-preserved.
When the pyroclastic surge of hot ash and pumice came rushing down, many Herculaneans fled for the seaside. Their mistake: they suffocated in the oven-like boathouses and died holding their jewelry and money.
5. It’s a Great Place to Stay
The ruins of Herculaneum are in unimaginably good condition. They include jars of figs and pomegranates, graffiti and inscriptions that look brand new, and even some roofs that still have their original colors (the residents liked vibrant hues).
It’s also much smaller than Pompeii and gets fewer visitors, which makes it a peaceful place to visit. It’s great for families with kids and it’s perfect for anyone who wants to avoid being overwhelmed by crowds of tourists.
6. It’s a Great Place to Party
Herculaneum (also known as Ercolano) was a seaside city favored by wealthy Romans. The 1st-century CE villas here are enhanced versions of the domus model, with many rooms given panoramic sea views and terraced gardens. The Villa of the Papyri is so named for a treasure trove of papyrus scrolls found here.
Excavation of Herculaneum began by accident in the 18th century CE, with tunnels dug in search of a well. Today, Herculaneum is a more authentic window into Roman life than its more famous neighbor Pompeii.