Herculaneum and Pompeii: evidence of a refined culture
Herculaneum and Pompeii are two of the most visited archaeological sites in the world. And, on arriving on these sites, it is easy to understand why. After two thousand years of history, the two cities still retain their ancient splendour, offering a unique and complete image of society at the time and of classical culture in general.
On the 24th of August 79 AD, the eruption of Vesuvius buried Pompeii in ash and volcanic debris, and covered Herculaneum with a layer of volcanic mud. The tragic event caused the disappearance of the two cities and their entire populations, until, in the eighteenth century, excavations brought them to light again. Thanks to the patient and meticulous work of scholars and archaeologists, the culture of Herculaneum and Pompeii has been brought back to life, providing a rich and wonderful testimony of the classical period. For their undeniable historical, artistic and cultural value, in 1997, they were included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
A walk in the 1st century AD
The eruption of Vesuvius caused the disappearance of two entire cities and their refined civilization, but, at the same time, it preserved their beauty forever. Strolling through the streets of Herculaneum and Pompeii, entering the majestic villas and shops, is like taking a real journey back in time, before that fateful year of 79 AD.
Some monuments not to be missed:
- The Forum of Pompeii: As soon as you enter the ancient city, you will be greeted by this large square, the lively heart of the Pompeian life. Here hundreds of people flocked every day, since the forum was the site of various public buildings, including the large, public, multifunctional building, the basilica, and the most important temples.
- The Great Amphitheatre of Pompeii: This is another place that will leave you speechless. Thanks to its perfect state of conservation, as one of the world’s finest examples of an ancient amphitheatre, the viewer will be able to relive a moment of the everyday life of a Pompeian citizen, of two thousand years ago.
- The Theatre and Odeon of Pompeii: Also well-preserved, these were ordinary places of the cultural life of Pompeii. The first was used for Greek tragedies, and the second for music and poetry. The odeon still represents an excellent example of period engineering, due to its architectural sound amplification system.
- Pompeii’s private houses and villas: In addition to the public buildings, the city’s private houses and villas also deserve attention, since their architectures and pictorial decorations demonstrate the high refinement of the culture and art of the civilization. The greatest example of this Pompeian civilization is the House of the Vettii, whose frescoes offer a fascinating story of the life of aristocrats of the time.
- The Villa of the Papyri: In Herculaneum, this villa is another excellent example of the culture of the time. Still partially buried, it was lived in by Julius Caesar’s father-in-law, who had an immense library with almost two thousand papyri, or scrolls, many of which are still legible today.
- The Samnite House of Herculaneum: This is one of the oldest houses in the city. Of notable splendour is the upper part of the house, with its loggia supported by Ionic columns.