Pompei or Herculaneum?

Oct 12th, 2012, 07:17 AM
  #1  
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Pompei or Herculaneum?

If we only go to one of these, which would you recommend? We are planning to go to the archeology museum in Naples, because we know we'll see a lot of the artifacts there.
judilie is offline  
Oct 12th, 2012, 07:27 AM
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Pompeii is grander and has more crowds, Herculaneum is more compact if only because most of it is still buried under the modern town.
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Oct 12th, 2012, 07:30 AM
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Pompeii is much larger, but Herculaneum has better preserved buildings. I think it would depend on how much time you've got.

If time isn't short, I'd go with Pompeii.
Kate is offline  
Oct 12th, 2012, 07:30 AM
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IMO there is NO comparison between the extensive evocative ruins in a nice setting at Pompeii with those one at Ercolo that are cramped into a fairly small deep pit as I recall. As Ercolo takes just a short time you could perhaps do both - on same rail line.
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Oct 12th, 2012, 07:40 AM
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"Ercolo that are cramped into a fairly small deep pit as I recall."

Strangely, it is exactly that fact, that the town is still obviously under 60 foot of volcanic ash and rubble that makes Herculaneum special. You can stand at the entrance to the boat house, exactly where the beach used to be, and crane your neck to see the top of the heap of rock that covered the place.

I like both. If I had 4 hours or more, I'd do Pompeii. Less and I'd try for Herculaneum plus the Museum in the afternoon.
willit is offline  
Oct 12th, 2012, 08:40 AM
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We just got back from Italy yesterday and toured Herculaneum and Pompeii on separate days while we were there. There's no reason you can't do both in one day, as long as you have a whole day. A couple of hours in Herculaneum is enough to see most of it. Certainly Pompeii is huge (maybe 100 acres are excavated) but there's quite a lot of repetition in the appearance of the small buildings, so you could get a sense of the street scene, see some of the more interesting buildings like the small and large teatro, lupenare (brothel, with "options" painted on the walls), etc. for 3 or more hours. We found train and bus travel to be very time consuming and wish we'd planned to see both in one day, instead of separate days, based on online comments of how long it took to tour each site. Of course, this is predicated on an average level of interest -- if you're very very interested in either one and would want to spend lots of time checking out every detail, then the above won't work for you.
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Oct 12th, 2012, 09:14 AM
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Pompeii is a complete walled and gated city, like a mini-Rome.

Herculaneum is a nice neighborhood of a smaller open town that has been reconstructed (vs preserved) on a grander scale than Pompeii.
Regards, Walter
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Oct 12th, 2012, 10:25 AM
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I saw Herculaneum first, and preferred it. The buildings are more complete, with partial second stories, and more of the original decoration is intact. And it certainly easier to see, precisely because it is smaller. You can combine it with the nearby villas.
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Oct 12th, 2012, 10:28 AM
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I'd go with both and skip the archaeological museum, which I found really quite boring (& I'm an archaeology graduate!). However, there is a lot more to see at Pompeii than at Herculaneum and if you only do one of the two sites, do that - Herculaneum has the odd feature which Pompeii hasn't (like the remains of a few upper floors - but you can't go up there), but it's nothing like as impressive. As an indicator, we spent 7 hours at Pompeii & 2 at Herculaneum.
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Oct 12th, 2012, 11:07 AM
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I would not skip the archeology museum which has some wonderful mosaics and statuary; the best of what needed to be preserved and could be moved is found indoors.
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Oct 12th, 2012, 04:43 PM
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We toured from Sorrento via the train. Pompeii made a long morning, then lunch, then Herculaneum. Would not advise missing either one. Pompeii is the bare ruined city, Herculaneum is the way it was, as if abandoned. Then imagine that Pompeii was all like herculaneum. Then, the next day, we went to Naples for the Archeological Museum to see the treasures removed from the ruins, and thus preserved. Outstanding. Do all three.
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Oct 12th, 2012, 04:48 PM
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You might search this board for additional responses comparing the two sties.
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Oct 12th, 2012, 05:09 PM
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I agree with ParadiseLost. What you see at Pompeii is a city, how the forum and civic buildings relate to the commercial and residential buildings, wealthier neighborhoods v. working class housing, as well as examples of public services like water, drainage, streets, sidewalks, etc. Herculaneum is only a small area with no forum, no theater, and I had a harder time imagining the original town.
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Oct 12th, 2012, 06:56 PM
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Pompeii is fascinating. An entire town frozen in time.
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Oct 12th, 2012, 09:23 PM
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Thanks very much for all of the replies! I neglected to mention that we will be staying in Sorrento, but will have a car. Do you recommemd driving or taking public transportation? What is the parking situation at the two sites?
judilie is offline  
Oct 12th, 2012, 09:54 PM
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There is a large parking area in by the Herculaneum site.
Michael is offline  
Oct 12th, 2012, 10:08 PM
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Are there group tours one can join, or do you have to hire a private guide if you don't want to do it on your own?
judilie is offline  
Oct 13th, 2012, 03:47 AM
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Caroline, glad to see you finally got to Pompeii!

Anyone planning to visit Pompeii (or, for that matter, Rome) might want to watch the free videos from a course on Roman architecture given at Yale. Extremely informative, made me want to go back and see everything through more educated eyes.

http://oyc.yale.edu/history-art/hsar-252
Nikki is offline  
Oct 13th, 2012, 06:45 AM
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Pompeii doesn't offer their own tours except for schools. You can rent their audio guide if you don't want a tour or d/l Rick Steves' walking tour from Itunes (free).

You can train from Sorrento for a couple of euro if you don't want to drive (train stop is just across the street from the entrance).
kybourbon is online now  
Oct 13th, 2012, 09:45 AM
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No point driving. The train from Sorrento runs every half hour or so right to the entrance to Pompeii, and the Herculaneum stop is an easy walk to the archeological site. We got the Naples Arte Card 3-day whole region, which gets 3 days of free transit, 2 free site entrances (Pompeii and Herculaneum for us) and 1/2 price from then on (Naples Archeological Museum plus many others). No muss, no fuss.
AJPeabody is online now  

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