Herculaneum


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Europe » Italy » Campania » Ercolano
July 19th 2011
Published: September 7th 2011
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It seems like our honeymoon was a million miles away now but I still haven’t finished writing all of my blogs. Ercolano, or as it was known in AD 79 Herculaneum, is another place that got destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius along with Pompeii.

After our tour around Pompeii we went with our tour guide to Herculaneum. Herculaneum is much smaller than Pompeii in terms of how much has been excavated however this does not mean there is less interesting stuff to see. At the entrance there is a slope leading down to Herculaneum, which is buried under what is now Ercolano. As you peer over the slope you can see where the sea used to meet this extremely well preserved place.

I am absolutely fascinated with history and over the years I have watched many programmes on TV about the last moments of some of the occupants of Herculaneum. At the port you can make out where boats used to tie up to enter the city, there are a few arches running along the port, inside these arches were found the bodies of a large number of people. This was not where they lived, nor where people would meet to socialise, this was the furthest people could get away from Vesuvius as it was erupting. People from various different social classes were found in these arches, this was only apparent as some were found clutching gold and other precious jewellery.

As you go further inland from the old port you can explore buildings that are amazingly well preserved. Because of the way that Vesuvius destroyed Herculaneum the extreme heat and large amount of debris from the volcano has actually fossilised the wood in some of the buildings so you can see exactly how they were built thousands of year ago. You can also see a fossilised wooden bed and a fossilised wooden staircase.

Due to the lack of moisture and air exposure this also means that all of the paintings on the wall are immaculately preserved, some looking like they have only just been painted. There were a number of political posters for the leaders of the time still intact stating “If you vote for me I will give you money”, it’s unlike a politician to buy a person’s votes lol.

Behind one very flimsy wooden door our guide told us that a body had recently been found and was being examined, when our tour finished we pushed our head against the flimsy door which moved just enough to let us see the body, I felt a little like a naughty school kid but it was cool to see.

Herculaneum is still buried, well most of it is anyway, you can actually see where Ercolano sits literally on top of Herculaneum and there is no way to excavate it without the residents of Ercolano completely relocating. When you leave the excavated Herculaneum as with any tourist spot there are a lot of restaurants whose main business is focused around tourists having a ‘typical Italian meal’ we had lunch and I had yet another pizza but this was quite possibly the best pizza we have had since we had been in Italy and it was the cheapest.

We have one more blog about our honeymoon still to come, next stop Amalfi.



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7th September 2011

Times have changed
When I was in Herculaneum 19 years ago, i didn\'t see most of what you posted here - at that time it still was a small site with much closed off. Looks like it might be time to return to admire some of those beautiful mosaics and paintings that are now available for everyone to see! Thanks for the story and pictures!

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