Select your language

Herculaneum, ruins of an ancient city, history and many pics

Ruins of Herculaneum, a short history from the foundation of the city until Vesuvius destroyed it in 79 AD / CE, lots of pictures about the remains of this ancient city.

Herculaneum: the excavations of a city destroyed by Vesuvius


The archaeological excavations of Herculaneum

Herculaneum is one of the most famous places in the world because the ancient city was destroyed by Vesuvius in 79 AD with Pompeii, Oplontis and Stabia.
The excavations of the ancient city of Herculaneum (Roman colony), infact, one finds in the homonymous city which is one of the municipalities of the metropolis of Naples.
Herculaneum's inhabitants, unlike those of the other cities, lost their lives almost immediately, cause of the winds carried hot gas, ashes and water vapor throughout the area. Then the whole town of Herculaneum was buried by about 10 meters cause of pyroclastic materials fallout for about 25 hours.

Ruins of Herculaneum, the excavation began in 1738 AD /CE

ruins of herculaneum

The ruins of Herculaneum among the ancient alleys

The excavations of Herculaneum began in 1738, because years earlier, in 1709, some finds, part of the theater of the ancient city, were accidentally found during some works to build a well. So Charles of Bourbon, King of Naples, decided that the archaeological excavations of Herculaneum officially began, but they were often interrupted to be continued after a lot of years. This is because at the time it was very dangerous to dig deep, as the city of Herculaneum was buried for almost 30 meters.

Excavations of Herculaneum and the house of Telephus Relief

excavations of herculaneum

Herculaneum, the house of Telephus Relief

The ruins of Herculaneum are the remains of a part of the ancient Roman city, near Naples, buried during the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD /CE and brought to light after almost 2000 years. 
Among the archaeological remains found in the ancient city of Herculaneum there is one of the most important resicences of the tawn, the house of the relief of Telephus. This villa is so called because a relief carved panel of the myth of Telephus (son of Hercules) was foound. The house of the relief of Telephus is the second largest building in the ancient city of Herculaneum after that of the Hotel.

Herculaneum, the ruins of Neptune and Amphitrite's house


Herculaneum, House of Neptune and Amphitrite

In Herculaneum the house of Neptune and Amphitrite was also brought to the light, inside of it is located the Tablino (see photo above), that, in ancient Rome, it was a large room located between the atrium and the peristyle (courtyard surrounded by a portico). On one of the walls it is possible to admire the magnificent mosaic with the images of Neptune and Amphitrite, from which the house takes its name.

In the excavations of Herculaneum houses, shops were found, and there are many archaeological remains, do you want to know more? Scroll down the page ...

Herculaneum and some of the many finds from the ancient city

Herculaneum, in the UNESCO World Heritage

The excavations of Herculaneum, thanks to many discoveries in the ancient city, in 1997 together with those of Pompeii and some villas of Oplontis was included in the Unesco world heritage list.
Herculaneum and the other cities were buried during the same eruption, the one of Vesuvius on 24 August 79 AD / CE.


Excavations of Herculaneum and the college of Augustales

In Herculaneum, during the excavations, the college of the Augustales was brought to light. It was a building dedicated to worship and religion. It is believed it is so called because at that time the priestly college of the Augustales (Sodales Augustales) met there for the cult of the Divo Augusto (first emperor of Rome), and of the Gens Iulia (social juridical structure whose members have the same surname and they descended from the same and illustrious ancestor).

excavations herculaneum

Ruins of Herculaneum and the Casa dell 'Albergo

In Herculaneum the largest building unearthed during the excavations is the Casa dell 'Albergo (House of the Hotel), with a size of 2000 square meters (2391,98 square yards). Once the sea reached the area where now there is the entrence of the excavations of Herculaneum and the house of the Hotel had a panoramic view facing the beach. It is thought to have been a hotel is for the presence of thermal buildings inside it.

ruins herculaneum

Herculaneum and the Thermopolium of the ancient city

In the excavations of Herculaneum, walking through the various alleys, we notice that inside some ruins of buildings there are large walled amphorae one after the other with the various rims facing upwards. They contained food and drink for the inhabitants of Herculaneum. These places were, in fact, the ancient restaurants , the Thermopolium.


Ruins of Herculaneum, Images of the archaeological remains

Ruins of Herculaneum, ticket prices and location

Cost of the ticket to visit the Herculaneum excavations

TICKET: € 13
REDUCED TICKET: € 3,50 (children between 18 and 25 years of age from the EU)

Infos free tickets here: beniculturali.it

Purchase of tickets for the Herculaneum Excavations: Ticketone.it

Contacts: +39 081 7777008

Web-site: beniculturali.it

Open every day at the following times:
From 15/03 to 15/10: 9.30-19.30 (last admission 18.00)
From 16/10 to 14/03: -9.30-17.00 (last admission 15.30)
Closed on Wednesday, January 1st, December 25th

How to reach the ruins of Herculaneum by public transport:

The archaeological park of Herculaneum is located in the homonymous city on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius a few kilometers from Naples.

From Naples by Train: Circumvesuviana to Sorrento and get off at Ercolano Scavi.


How to reach the ruins of Herculaneum by car, click on the photo

Herculaneum, the history of a city destroyed by Vesuvius

The founding date of Herculaneum is not certain. Not enough artifacts have been recovered to be able to build its history
It is thought to have been founded by the Osci in the 12th century BC, Because we found found transcripts in the Osca language. That it was used until the Roman domination.
But it is thought also that the city was founded by Etruscans between the 10th and 8th centuries B.C. because the conquests of this people extended over almost the entire territory of present-day southern Italy.

In 479 BC Herculaneum was conquered by the Greeks who immediately adopted their urban planning system: a construction technique in order to give the city a more modern configuration.
Hercolaneum was later conquered by the Samnites

The city of Herculaneum in 89 BC it was conquered by the Roman Empire. From that moment the coast of the city became a holiday destination for the Roman aristocracy.

In 62 A.D. a part of the city of Herculaneum was devastated by a strong earthquake hit the nearby city of Pompeii. So the restoration work began.

The city of Herculaneum in 79 AD it was hit by another great catastrophe: the eruption of Vesuvius which also destroyed Pompeii, Stabia and Oplonti.
The inhabitants of Hercolaneum didn't stand a chance. They died instantly because the wind carried ashes and water vapor and hot gas.
All pyroclastic materials produced during the eruption covered the city by about 10 meters, maybe 15.
Later over the centuries other eruptions and others ash buried the city reaching 25 meters height. This material that covered the city with has solidified over time, becaming the pappamonte, a kind of tuff but more tender.
This material, for centuries, protected the remains recovered from the subsoil.

The legend of Hercules and the birth of Herculaneum city

A legend tells that it was founded in the XII century BC by the son of Zeus, Heracles (in Latin Hercules). He was commissioned by his brother Eurystheus (king of Tiryns and Mycenaean) to perform 12 feats: 12 labours of Hercules. Among one of those was to steal the oxen of the king of the island of Eritea: Geryon (a giant with three heads, with three busts, 6 arms and only two legs).This island is located at the end of the Mediterranean sea: near the Iberian peninsula.

The hero killed the triceps monster and his two-headed dog Otro, so he stole the animals
On the way back he stopped in the lands where today there is the city of Rome. He asked the goddess Fauna (deity of sheep farming and woods) to be able to rest and drink. But the water of the temple was sacred and was only available to the women. Heracles, irritated he was distracted by the rejection.So he lost his oxen: they have been stolen from the son of the god Vulcan, the demon Caco, who took the animals with him to his home: a cave on the slopes of Vesuvius. The son of Zeus looked for them in vain for many days, then finally he heard them bellowing. So The hero killing the demon took the animals back with him.
To celebrate his victory he decided to found a city in that place. Giving it his own name. Today the city of Herculaneum.