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Forget Pompeii, Visit Herculaneum Instead

Pompeii is worth a visit, but Herculaneum has so much more to offer.

Everyone knows the tragic tale of Pompeii, the city frozen in time by the fury of Mount Vesuvius. It has been a major tourist attraction for many years, with people traveling from all across the globe to wander the streets and see how these ancient people lived before it all ended. However, Pompeii was not the only city lost in the mighty eruption; the nearby city of Herculaneum was also buried beneath the ashes. 


Herculaneum was named after the Greek god, Hercules, who, according to legend, established the city in 1243 B.C. However, historians believe it was founded by the Etruscans sometime in the 7th-century. 

In its day, Herculaneum was far wealthier than Pompeii. The city was rich with impressive marble work, elaborate mosaics, and expansive residences. Though it was smaller than Pompeii, Herculaneum’s size has proven beneficial for archeologists and visitors as it allowed the city’s structures to be better preserved underneath the volcano ash. 


On the first day of the eruption, the winds were blowing away from Herculaneum sparing it from the initial damage. This allowed many residents to flee the city safely, but archeologists still uncovered about 300 skeletons during excavations. The following day, the volcanic ash began to rain down on the city. This event occurred much slower than at Pompeii, which allowed for the preservation of materials like wood, clothing, furniture, and food products. 


As a specimen of the ancient world, Herculaneum has more to offer curious visitors than Pompeii. As stated previously, Herculaneum is much smaller than Pompeii, which makes it easier for tourists to navigate. It also has a far better collection of preserved material, and the crowds are significantly smaller, compared to Pompeii. Additionally, there are still portions of the city that have yet to be uncovered, so who knows what kind of treasures may be seen in future visitors.

Overall, both of these cities are important sites that should be visited during a trip to Italy. However, Herculaneum strikes me as the type of place where someone could visit over and over again. 


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