How did the ancient Pompeii Decorate?

Before its disastrous end, Pompeii was a flourishing and wealthy city, known for its lush fashion and stunning embellishment. A popular holiday spot for rich Romans, the streets were filled with sensual brothels, boutique fashion shops, and markets filled with foreign goods. Beautiful things were Pompeii’s speciality, with archaeologists unearthing an amazing array of frescos, mosaic, and artefacts.



Frescos played an important role in Pompeii’s many brothels. Many rediscovered brothel houses have lasting frescoes painted on their walls. Archaeologists assume each fresco was used as a documentation of the brothel’s menu. Depicting the services, positions, and companions on offer, using these highly erotic drawing to enhance the shop’s sensual atmosphere.

Private Homes

The Villa of Mysteries

This preserved suburban villa that contains some of the most preserved frescos in Pompeii. With a series of paintings that works as a single narrative. Frescos were used in private homes to show off the family’s wealth, create an enchanting atmosphere, as well as to open the room’s space which may have no or limited windows. The meaning behind this villa’s frescos is up to interpretation. The two most common explanations are that it is a design of a religious ceremony, or it could be a being bride initiating into the Bacchian Mysteries in preparation for marriage.

Leda and the Swan

This was unearthing very recently in a small house within the city. It depicts a common illustration in Pompeii, of Leda and the swan. Essentially the story is of a woman being tricked into intimacy by the God Zeus as he is disguised as a swan. Although it is a strange story, the illustration created a captivating decoration in this private home.


Although it is not as popular as frescos, mosaic ornamentation was a widely used decoration. It was often used as flooring or outdoor structures. One of the examples is at ‘House of the Small Fountain.’ This private home has an outdoor fountain decorated with brilliantly colour mosaics and shells. The mosaic could either depict unique illustrations or simply stunning patterns.


Pompeii preferred smaller sized statues, using them as in rooms, fountains, or gardens. The only surviving larger statues found were only within the Forum. Bronze statues were by far the most popular, with other materials being marble, tuff and terracotta.

See these masterpieces on our Private Pompeii Guided Tour!