15 July 2013

Top 4 tips for visting Herculineum (Ercolano) and Pompeii

Herculaneum, also know as Ercolano, is an archaeological site of a town that was ruined in 79AD following the eruption of Mt Vesuvius. Pompeii was ruined in the same eruption. Although smaller, Heculaneum better preserved than Pompeii is.

The overwhelming feeling of walking around both sites is awe...its so hard to believe that this was once the homes of people who worked, lived, loved and laughed. They had their own lives, their own stories, beliefs, dramas and woes. All that was obliterated. All that's left is the skeleton of their houses, the streets they walked. If you ever thought you had forever, this will change that.

Ercolano was amazing. Being able to walk into someones home, step on their mosaic floors and see the same fresco walls they would have seen everyday is staggering. The other difficult thing to take is that this town (like Pompeii) was by the sea. The eruption moved the coastline away from it, you can still glimpse it off in the distance from the site, between the buildings that now occupy space. The sheer scale Pompeii is impressive, after all, it was a city. Its boasts two theatres, a gladiator coliseum which is well preserved and a gymnasium where they found ancient graffiti in the change rooms. The most amusing feature is the raised stones used to cross the road when it was flooded every day to clean it.

The eerie side of the coin is that in both Pompeii and Ercolano, you can see some of the "statues" taken of people who had died and been petrified in a recognisable state.

My top 4 tips for visiting Ercolano and Pompeii are:

  1. Visit Ercolano first then go to Pompeii. Seeing Ercolano will allow you to imagine Pompeii better
  2. Give yourself plenty of time for each. I spent a good few hours at both though i could have easily spent more. If you are squeezed for time, you can do both in a day, but be smart and choose what you really want to see.
  3. Take the local train - its cheap, easy to follow and gives you a feel for typical travel in the region
  4. Get an audio guide - if there are two of you, take a set of earphones that way you can share and save a little.
Till you get there yourself, here are some photos. Enjoy!


The streets of Ercolano

Ecolano, Herculineum colonnaded street
Ercolano colonnaded street
Ercolano, Herculineum street with two level home
Ercolano - two level home
Ercolano, Herculineum lunch restaurant with fresco
An Ercolano lunch restaurant with fresco
View of the site Ercolano, Herculineum with the "modern" developments at the back
View of the site of Ercolano - how weird would it be to live in the newer houses that overlook this site?

The homes of Ercolano

inside two level Ercolano school for freed slaves with fresco back wall
Two story Ercolano school for freed slaves.
fresco walls inside Ercolano home
Fresco walls of an Ercolano home
An open green courtyard and mosaic floor of an Ercolano home
A courtyard and mosaic floor of an Ercolano home
fresco walls inside Ercolano home
Fresco walls of an Ercolano home
mosaic image of a man and a woman
Stunning bathroom mosaic
mosaic bathroom floor with black and white tiles depicting underwater scene
Beautiful mosaic floors of communal bath area
cast of petrified Ercolano resident encased in glass on raised table
Cast of petrified Ercolano resident - it is not the actual body, when found there was a process to make this cast

Views of Pompeii

Pompeii archway near the temple of Jupiter
Pompeii archway near the temple of Jupiter
Pompeii theatre
Pompeii theatre
Pompeii forum
Pompeii forum
Pompeii artifacts. rows and rows of ceramic jugs, a cast of a petrified Pompeii resident and some marble pieces
Pompeii artifacts, you can see another cast of a petrified resident
Pompeii forum - open space with people milling around
Pompeii forum
Pompeii coliseum / amphitheatre viewed through two tall trees
Pompeii coliseum / amphitheatre
Inside the Pompeii coliseum / amphitheatre
Inside the Pompeii coliseum / amphitheatre
Gladiator barracks, rectangular structure with columns around the edge and green space in the middle
Gladiator barracks
A doorway from the forum
A doorway from the forum

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