What are Pompeii’s frescoes?

The historic city of Pompeii is famous for its tragic demise by Mount Vesuvius. A past prosperous city that thrived in the Roman Empire’s reign. The area was covered in a thick layer of volcanic debris, swallowing the city up for thousands of years underground. Archaeologists have unearthed incredible artefacts, including lasting frescoes that cover the walls of ancient Pompeii.

What are Frescoes?

Frescoes are a painting made out of water-based pigments on freshly applied plaster. The pigment is absorbed by the wet plaster, and when dry, reacts with air causing it to fix the pigment particles into the plaster. When the painting was completed, a fine layer of wax was painted over the work, ensuring the illustrations lasts. Due to this method of preserving paintings, the frescoes in Pompeii were kept reasonably restored due to the natural time capsule. Over time, the colours of each fresco have faded, but when thinking of them being buried for 1500 years, they are still exceptionally vibrant.

Pompeii’s Frescos

The Frescoes in Pompeii have given us a better peek into the daily lives, beliefs, and passions of the Pompeii people. Frescos were used in both public places, shops, and homes. Majority of the rooms in Pompeii were small with not many windows, so they were used to brighten the rooms and to widen the horizon. The style of the fresco developed over the city’s lifespan, ranging from 150 BC to 79 AD. There were four major styles; Incrustation, Architectural, Ornamental, and Illusionist. The types of things they painted were also significant; including religious and mythological scenes, magnificent landscapes, fruit trees and still life.

Frescos you can still see today


There are many brothels that have numerous frescos on the walls. The frescos stated the services the brothel offered. With numerous positions and services listed with descriptions. They were also used to enhance a sensual atmosphere.

The Villa of Mysteries

This Roman villa of Mysteries has some of the most preserved frescos in the area. There are a series of paintings with recurring frescos meant to be read as a single narrative. The meaning behind the story has a number of interpretations. The two most common stories are that it is an illustration of a religious ceremony, or it is a bride initiating into the Bacchian Mysteries in preparation for marriage. Take a visit and see which explanation you believe! Located on the outskirts of the city, it takes around half an hour to walk to.

Leda and the Swan

The most recent Fresco unearthed this year is Leda and the swan; a fresco illustrating the unusual sight of a woman having sex with a swan. The fresco is inspired from a classical mythology story of Spartan Queen Leda, who was impregnated by the God Zeus when he was in disguise as a swan.

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