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Visiting Villa of Papyri in Pompeii I Herculaneum Ruins

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What is Villa of the Papyr?

The Villa of the Papyri in Naples, is a fascinating archaeological site that offers a glimpse into the past of the ancient Roman Empire. Located in the scenic town of Herculaneum, this villa houses some of the most significant discoveries from the time period, including ancient manuscripts and sculptures.

Built in the 1st century BC, Villa of the Papyri is believed to have belonged to a wealthy Roman nobleman, and its remote location ensured the villa remained remarkably well-preserved. With an impressive atrium with a central pond, marble sculptures and paintings, and the famous library room, which housed over 1,800 scrolls of papyri that were painstakingly restored in the 1750s, it is a must-visit if you go to Herculaneum. Book lovers and history buffs, some of the writings include works by the philosopher Epicurus! 

While the exact identity of its final owner is not known, the villa is said to have belonged to the father-in-law of Julius Caesar, Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, in the century before the eruption.

Quick Facts about Villa of the Papyri

  • Official name: Villa of the Papyri
  • Location/Address: Herculaneum, Naples, Italy
  • Date of opening: Unknown; rediscovered in 1750
  • Timings: Timings: 8:30 AM to 7:30 PM between 16 March to 14 October | 8:30 AM to 5 PM between 15 October to 15 March
  • Closed: The park is closed on 1 January and 25 December.
  • Architect Unknown; believed to be built during the Roman Republic era
  • Architectural style: Roman architecture
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site: Yes (1997)
  • Number of visitors per year: Approximately 200,000
  • Collection size : Contains over 1,800 papyrus scrolls, bronze statues, frescoes, and other artifacts
  • Function: Ancient Roman villa built for the affluent Piso family, serving as a center for art, literature, and philosophy. It also housed a private library of papyrus scrolls. Today, it serves as a museum and archeological site.

Why Visit Villa of the Papyri?

  • Intriguing Papyrus Scrolls: Uncover the enigma of carbonized papyrus scrolls, preserved by Vesuvius' eruption. These relics, once hidden in ash, now offer glimpses into ancient philosophies and literary treasures.
  • Last Classical Library: Immerse yourself in the Villa of the Papyri, the sole surviving classical library worldwide. Over 1,800 scrolls, preserved by Vesuvius' ash, echo the intellectual pursuits of ancient Romans.
  • Mythological Marvels: Traverse the villa to encounter statues such as Hermes in repose, whimsical drunken satyrs, and Aeschines' stern bust—stone narratives preserved by volcanic ash, providing tangible links to classical myth and history.

Plan Your Visit to the Villa of the Papyri

Where is the Villa of the Papyri Located?

Address: Via dei Papiri, 80056 Ercolano (NA), Italy

The Villa of the Papyri is located in the ancient city of Herculaneum near Naples, Italy. It is situated on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius and overlooks the Bay of Naples.

Directions to Villa of the Papyri

Villa of the Papyri Highlights

Ancient Library

The Villa of the Papyri is known for its ancient library, which was discovered in the early 18th century. The library contains thousands of scrolls, which have been preserved thanks to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The scrolls were written in Greek and Latin and cover a wide range of topics, including philosophy, science, and literature. Visitors can see some of the scrolls and learn about the Villa's history as a cultural center.

Garden of the Villa

The Villa of the Papyri is set in a large garden, which contains a range of exotic plants such as palm trees, pomegranate trees, and oleanders. The garden also has several water features, including fountains and pools. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll through the garden and take in the scenic views. All you need to do is add one layer of imagination in the form of vineyards to really picture what it was like back in the day!

Frescoes and Mosaics

The Villa of the Papyri contains several well-preserved frescoes and mosaics that depict scenes from everyday life in ancient Rome. The frescoes are particularly notable for their intricate details and vibrant colors. You can see depictions of animals, landscapes, and mythical figures, among other subjects, similar to the rest of the city of Herculaneum.

Artifacts from Pompeii

The Villa of the Papyri also houses a collection of artifacts from nearby Pompeii, which was also destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The artifacts include pottery, jewelry, and sculptures, among other objects. Visitors can learn about life in Pompeii and gain insight into the ancient Roman civilization through these artifacts.

History of the Villa of the Papyri

The Villa of the Papyri, situated in the ancient Roman city of Herculaneum, belonged to Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, Julius Caesar's father-in-law. In AD 79, Vesuvius's eruption buried Herculaneum under 30 meters of volcanic ash, preserving the villa and its library of 1,785 carbonized papyrus scrolls, known as the "Herculaneum papyri."

Unrolled and deciphered, these scrolls revealed Greek philosophical texts from the personal library of the Epicurean philosopher Philodemus.

Discovered in 1750, the villa attracted increased attention to Herculaneum's excavations. Interruptions occurred, with focus shifting to Pompeii until 1875. Resuming in 1927 under Amedeo Mauri until 1958, extensive exploration revealed the villa's structure. Stretching over 250 meters parallel to the Gulf of Naples, the villa featured an atrium, porticoed garden, and seaside entrance. The peristyles contained notable sculptures like the herma of Doryphorus and an Amazon by Apollonios.

The living quarters, arranged for ample sunlight and scenic views, housed the renowned library, with carbonized scrolls placed in wooden capsae and on shelves.

The villa's gardens, adorned with busts and statues, surrounded a large swimming bath. Ongoing archaeological efforts intermittently revealed more of its grandeur, affirming the Villa of the Papyri's status as a unique window into the intellectual and architectural legacy of the classical world.

Villa of the Papyri Today

Today, the Villa of the Papyri is an essential piece of history that marks the significance of the Roman Empire's influence on Italian culture. It is a symbol of the ancient times, where the wealthy and elite would live a life of luxury and extravagance. The artifacts and sculptures found here are evidence of the superb craftsmanship and artistic expressions of its creators. The excavation site is also a historical treasure that provides insight into the ancient world's advanced construction, engineering, and architectural techniques. 

The Villa of the Papyri is also a popular destination for tourists and scholars of history and archaeology. Visitors can witness the remains of the magnificent villa and its vast collection of artifacts and sculptures. They can also admire the beauty of the intricate frescoes, mosaics, and decorations that reflect the architectural and decorative styles of the ancient world. 

Fun Fact: After two centuries of research, archaeologists have discovered a way to use x-rays to analyze the ancient documents and scrolls unearthed here, without damaging them. By doing so, they were able to uncover text that had been lost since the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius Of the 1800 scrolls, only two can be read thus far.

Frequently Asked Questions about Villa of the Papyri

What is the Villa of the Papyri?

The Villa of the Papyri is an extensive, ancient Roman villa located near the town of Herculaneum in Naples, Italy.

Where can I buy Villa of the Papyri tickets?

You can purchase tickets for Villa of the Papyri directly from the attraction or online. It is recommended that you purchase your tickets online to avoid the risk of tickets selling out on the day of your visit.

Can I visit Villa of the Papyri with Heculaneum Ruins tickets?

Yes, access to Villa of the Papyri is included with the Herculaneum Ruins ticket, which also covers the House of Neptune and several other gems of history. .

Who owned Villa of the Papyri?

The villa was owned by Julius Caesar's father-in-law, Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus