Skip the queue and take a journey back in time. Though less well-known than Pompeii, the ancient Roman town of Herculaneum (Ercolano) was preserved in a much better state due to the volcanic mud that engulfed it and then set solid. Buildings that were much less damaged by the weight of the falling ash than those in Pompeii were uncovered in an excellent state of preservation and the excavations (only a fraction of what is still to be uncovered) offer a rare insight into the lives of the people who lived here.
Thought to have been founded as far back as the 6th century BC by forebears of the Samnites, Herculaneum soon came under the control of the Greeks who used it as a trading post due to its excellent position on the gulf. From the 4th century BC it was again under the domination of the Samnites until its participation in the Social War and its defeat by Titus Didius. The town finally became a Roman municipum in 89 BC but was engulfed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD and lay hidden under a 20m thick blanket of ash and volcanic rock for nearly 1700 years.
About a quarter of Herculaneum has been uncovered so far, and this unique glimpse into the life of the ancient Romans is not to be missed. You get a clear picture of the layout of the ancient city, its roads, houses, villas and workshops, as well as public monuments and buildings including the swimming pool, sports ground and baths. You will even find some wooden structures intact. Some of the frescoes, mosaics and inlaid marble floors decorating the buildings are incredibly fresh and bright, and you will get a real feeling of stepping back in time as you explore.
Your skip the line entrance ticket gives you access to the excavations and we recommend you give yourself at least two hours to explore the site thoroughly.
Audio guides in English, German, Spanish, Italian and French are available to hire on your arrival (this cannot be done in advance).