Villas and Casas in Ancient Pompeii

By the Editors of the Madain Project

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The urban architectural fabric of ancient Pompeii was dominated by private houses and villas (residential buildings), offering an exceptional opportunity to study Roman housing and its development through the ages. The upper echelons of society primarily resided in domus, which were expansive homes often spanning around 3,000 square meters.

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Overview

One of the traditional focal points of scholarship on Pompeii (as well as Herculaneum, Oplontis and Stabiae) has been the domiciliary or residential conditions of its residents. Since the late nineteenth century CE, researchers have examined the layout, decoration, and structure of the excavated houses in these ancient Roman cities.

Over the past three decades, however, this discussion has taken new directions. Rather than merely describing, dating, and categorizing the material remains, traditional strategies now serve as a foundation for interpreting residential and domestic spaces in the ancient metropolis. This shift in approach has significantly altered our understanding of urban communities in the Vesuvian area. Nonetheless, many scholars continue to use a conventional top-down approach, focusing mainly on large houses with regular layouts and elaborate, well-preserved wall and floor decorations. As a result, smaller houses with less elaborate wall paintings and mosaics remain unexamined and overlooked for most part.

Pompeii's urban layout and preserved ruins provide a comprehensive picture of Roman domestic architecture, reflecting the social stratification and cultural influences of the time. From the humble insulae to the grand domus and sprawling villas, the variety of housing in Pompeii illustrates the evolution of Roman residential design and its adaptation to changing social and economic conditions.

Architectural Characteristics and Evolution Over Time

circa

The domus typically followed a consistent layout. The front door opened into the atrium, a large central hall with an open roof. Surrounding the atrium were the other rooms of the house: bedrooms (cubicula), servants' quarters, dining rooms (triclinia), and living rooms.

At the center of the atrium was a drain pool (impluvium) that collected rainwater from a roof opening (compluvium), which also allowed light to enter. The collected water was channeled into an underground cistern for household use. The tablinum, a study used for receiving visitors, was positioned in line with the front door and separated from the atrium by a curtain or partition.

From the second century BCE, influenced by Hellenistic trends, the number of rooms in the domus increased. Around the typical Italic house garden (hortus), a columned porch (peristyle) was constructed, with walkways leading to the living rooms. Domus were often lavishly decorated with bright, colorful frescoes.

In contrast, the houses of middle and lower-class families were much smaller and had simpler designs.

Outside the cities, in the countryside and along the coasts, there were various villas. Urban villas (villa d’otium) primarily served as residences. These villas typically featured porticoes, living rooms, and dining rooms, all richly decorated and often surrounded by large gardens adorned with sculptures and fountains. They were usually built on natural or artificial terraces (basis villae) or on hillsides to offer panoramic views. Coastal villas sometimes included pools and facilities for breeding fish and mollusks.

On the other hand, country villas (villa rustica) resembled modern farms. They had a simple layout, with a central portico surrounded by the house's rooms, including spaces for agricultural production and large storage areas for goods.

Frequently, however, a single villa served both residential and agricultural purposes, combining luxurious living quarters with extensive agricultural facilities, such as the Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii.

List of Casas and Villas

circa 30 BCE

House of the Smith or House of the Craftsman
I.10.7
The House of the Smith (Casa del Fabbro) or House of the Craftsman, also known as the Domus and officina of Marcus Volusius Iuvencus and the Equitia.

circa 30 BCE

House and Caupona of Epagatus
I.1.10

circa 50 BCE

House of Venus in the Shell
I.3.3
The house was built in the first century BCE and underwent a number of significant changes in its internal layout. Just like in the House of the Vettii, the tablinum is sacrificed for the garden with peristylium which becomes the focal point of the house around which there are various frescoed rooms, including the enormous oecus second bigger after the House of Menander. The back wall of the peristylium is decorated with a great and spectacular fresco of Venus, which gives the house its name. On the lower part, a luxurious garden is depicted over a barrier with exotic plants and animals.

circa 50 BCE

House of Umbricius Scaurus
VII.16.15
The house of Umbricius Scaurus, situated near Porta Marina, consisted of an upper level with three atria; several cubicula and a fishpond and a lower level with cubicula, storerooms and a private bath. This building has been positively identified as belonging to Umbricius Scaurus due to the large floor mosaic bearing titulus pictus on each corner, depicting urcei (urns) of liquamen and garum inscribed with his name. Elsewhere in the house, urcei with labels boasting of the quality his produce were uncovered. The villa, with its harbour views, colonnaded garden and private bath, has been described as "luxurious".

circa 50 BCE

House of the Citharist
I.4.5
The house of the Citharist reached the current dimensions in the first century BCE and its name derives from the discovery of a bronze statue of Apollo playing the lyre. He was a member of the powerful Popidii family, as suggested by the graffiti and electoral inscriptions in the house.

The house, one of the largest in the city covering an area of 2700 square meters, takes up almost an entire block and reached such dimensions thanks to the progressive incorporation of various properties. This complex construction led to the development of an irregular plan, with two atriums and three peristylia, which form the most rich and lavish dwelling. The central peristylium has a swimming pool around which there were bronze sculptures of a wild boar attacked by two dogs, a lion, a deer and a snake all with fountain jets that created spectacular water features, according to the popular models in the richer Vesuvian villas.

circa 50 BCE

House of the Wounded Bear
VII.2.45
The house of the Wounded Bear (Casa dell' Orso Ferito), which dates back to the middle of the first century CE, owes its name to the beautiful mosaic with a wounded bear placed at the entrance, which is flanked by the inscription of welcome "HAVE" with which the owner welcomed his guests. The house offers some of the finest examples of painting from the mid-first century CE, as seen in the triclinium with the little squares depicting Danae with the little Perseus and the myth of Narcissus. At the bottom of the small courtyard, in the middle of a large fresco depicting a garden with a wild boar and a wolf on the sides of a tree, there is a colorful mosaic fountain showing Venus lying inside a shell and below Neptune , the god of the sea, in the middle of a seabed full of fishes of all kinds.

circa 150 BCE

House of the Faun
VI.12.2
The House of the Faun (Casa del Fauno), built during the second century BCE, was one of the largest and most impressive private residences in Pompeii, and housed many great pieces of art. It is one of the most luxurious aristocratic houses from the Roman republic, and reflects this period better than most archaeological evidence found even in Rome itself. The House of the Faun was named for the bronze statue of the dancing faun located, originally, on the lip of the impluvium, a basin for catching rainwater; it has been moved to the centre of the impluvium.

circa 150 BCE

House of the Vettii
VI.15.1
The House of the Vettii (Casa dei Vettii) is a domus located in Pompeii. The house is named for its owners, two successful freedmen: Aulus Vettius Conviva, an Augustalis, and Aulus Vettius Restitutus. The house is one of the largest domus in Pompeii, spanning the entire southern section of block 15. The plan is fashioned in a typical Roman domus with the exception of a tablinum, which is not included. There are twelve mythological scenes across four cubiculum and one triclinium.

circa 150 BCE

House of the Silver Wedding
V.2.I
The house (Casa delle Nozze d’Argento) was excavated in 1893 CE and was named after the silver wedding anniversary of Umberto and Margherita of Savoy which took place in that year. Built sometime around 300 BCE and renovated in the early first century CE, it was the domus of a wealthy resident. Its architecture is classical and it bears fine decoration such as the atrium which has four tall Corinthian columns supporting the roof, and an elegantly ornamented exedra.

circa 150 BCE

House of the Sailor
The house, whose layout dates back to the second century BCE, required a great construction commitment since the significant difference in height between the various areas throughout had to be compensated for by constructing vaulted semi-hypogean rooms used as a warehouse. The presence of a vast commercial and productive area within an elegant townhouse is an exception in Pompeii. The main rooms of the house open on to an impressive atrium, which was redecorated at the end of the first century BCE with several interesting black and white mosaics. A small thermal complex was also added at the time. The house, unearthed since 1871, owes its name to the mosaic with six prows of ships within arsenals at the entrance, an allusion to the peaceful haven offered to its occupants and perhaps even to the amateur activity of the owner.

circa 150 BCE

House of Centenary
The House of the Centenary (Casa del Centenario, also known as the House of the Centenarian) was the house of a wealthy resident of Pompeii. The house was discovered in 1879, and was given its modern name to mark the 18th centenary of the disaster. Built in the mid-second century BCE, it is among the largest houses in the city, with private baths, a nymphaeum, a fish pond (piscina), and two atria. The Centenary underwent a remodeling around 15 CE, at which time the bath complex and swimming pool were added. In the last years before the eruption, several rooms had been extensively redecorated with a number of paintings.

circa 150 BCE

House of Julius Polybius
The house dates to the second century BCE, and features a façade painted in the First Style, with high doors decorated with denticulated frames. In line with one of these, a false door was painted to the left of the tablinum, where several amphorae and heaps of lime were found - all evidence of the work which was in progress at the time of the eruption. It was an ostentatious domus, with a layout which was unusual compared to the other houses of Pompeii.

circa 150 BCE

House of M. Pupius
The House of M. Pupius (also known as the "House of Apollo" Casa di Apollo or the "House of the Dancers" Casa delle Danzatrici). In the atrium, opposite the entrance corridor instead of the usual tablinum, was a corridor leading to the peristyle area. The tablinum was on its left. The aedicula lararium in the south wall of pseudo-peristyle once held a beautiful bronze statue of Apollo, now displayed at the Naples Archaeological Museum (Inv no: 5613). W. Gell (1819 CE) in his works calls it the "House of the Surgical Instruments" (Casa degli Strumenti Chirurgici).

circa 150 BCE

House of Herenuleius Communis
Also known as the House of Apollo, it lies on Via di Mercurio. The house derives its name from the frescoes of the myth of Apollo found in a cubiculum (inspect) at the rear of the garden. The house was perhaps owned by M. Herenulli Communis, whose name was found on a ring uncovered in 1830 CE. The current layout dates back to the last period of life of the city, when the dwelling took up the area closest to the walls for the large garden to be set on two levels. This is without doubt the most important part of the house: a summer triclinium overlooks the lower garden adorned with a spectacular marble fountain with a ladder for a small waterfall.

circa 150 BCE

House of Julia Felix
The House of Julia Felix, also referred to as the praedia (Latin for an estate, or land) of Julia Felix, is a large Roman property on the Via dell'Abbondanza. It was originally the residence of Julia Felix, who converted portions of it to apartments available for rent and other parts for public use after the major earthquake in 62 CE, a precursor to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE that destroyed Pompeii.

circa 150 BCE

House of Marco Lucrezio Frontone
Built during the Roman times, it is one of the most refined houses in Pompeii. The house of Marco Lucretius Frontone was built in the (probably mid) second century BCE, but it was during the Augustan period, between the end of the first century BCE and the beginning of the first century, that it was enlarged and decorated. It was probably inhabited by one of the most powerful families of Pompeii, belonging to Marco Lucretius Frontone, according to some a relative of Tito Lucretius Caro. The house was damaged in the 62 CE earthquake, in particular the garden area, so much so that an almost total restoration had to be carried out and the works were not yet finished when the Vesuvius erupted again in 79 CE.

circa 150 BCE

House of the Orchard
The House of the Orchard (Casa del Frutteto), also known as the House of the Garden, stands on the south side of the Via dell'Abbondanza and is known by some other names as well, including House Euplia and House of the Flower Cubicles. Although the house has its own small garden, the name of this mansion comes from the beautiful frescoes, depicting the garden on the walls of a cubicle-bedroom. The House of the Orchard, follows the standard Roman floor-plan, where the guest garden or atrium is an integral part of the house.

circa 150 BCE

House of Menander
The House of Menander (Casa del Menandro) is one of the richest and most magnificent houses in ancient Pompeii in terms of architecture. The estate is referred to as “The House of Menander” because there is a well-preserved fresco of the ancient Greek Dramatist Menander in a small room off the peristyle. Some speculate the painting is not actually of Menander but rather of the owner of the house or another person reading works by Menander. The house included other frescoes, including one depicting the death of Laocoön.

circa 150 BCE

House of the Surgeon
The House of the surgeon (Casa del Chirurgo) is the oldest and one of the most famous houses in Pompeii, which is located in the Italian region of Campania. It is named after ancient surgical instruments that were found there. It was uncovered in 1770 CE by Frances La Vega, (Spain). The house today still stands partially.

circa 150 BCE

House of Sallust
The House of Sallust (Casa di Sallustio), also known in earlier excavation reports as the House of Actaeon, is a domus or elite residence in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. The oldest parts of the house have been dated to the 4th century BCE, but the main expansions were built in the sencond century BCE during the Roman period. The long history of this structure provides important evidence about the development of elite residences in Pompeii. Though originally a pre-Roman era house, it was later converted in to in to an cook-shop or inn (inspect), known as a taberna.

circa 150 BCE

House of Siricus
The big house (Domus Vedi Sirici) is the result of two houses being merged in the first century BCE, one with its entrance on via Stabiana and the other from the Lupanare alley. The decorations of the entire property were being radically renovated at the time of the eruption, according to the principles of the time. The exedra was one of the parts already completed, where the guests feasted on couches around a fine floor made of marble slabs and surrounded by beautiful frescoes with mythological subjects inspired by the Trojan War, one of which is exhibited at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. The last owner of the house, Publius Vedius Siricus, was identified thanks to the discovery of a bronze seal bearing his name. Sirico belonged to the political and trade class of Pompeii and met with his supporters on a daily basis in his home, welcoming them with the auspicious inscription SALVE LUCRU, Welcome, money! that could be read on the floor of the entrance.

circa 150 BCE

House of Adonis Wounded
In its original layout that dates back to the mid-second century BCE, the house (Casa di Adoni) was joined to the adjacent dwelling, forming one large property. In the last phase of life in Pompeii, the house was restored and most of the walls were repainted. Among the frescoes of this era there is the large painting with Adonis dying and Aphrodite painted in the garden, which named the house.

In Greek mythology, Adonis, a nice-looking young man, loved by Aphrodite, died because Mars (or Apollo, according to some), driven by jealousy, made a wild boar attack him during a chase in the woods. Anemones grew from the blood of Adonis. In the large opening on to the garden there is another painting based on love and desire: on the east wall, to the left, one can see the remains of a fresco showing the "Toilet of Hermaphrodite". The unfulfilled and unfulfillable love that we find in these paintings, was a recurring theme in ancient literature and art.

circa 150 BCE

House of the Cornelii
The House of Cornelius Rufus, also known as the Domus Cornelia, is situated on the Via dell'Abbondanza across from the Stabian Baths. The house was first excavated in 1855 CE and again in 1861 and 1893. The property belonged to the gens Cornelia dating back to the time of Sulla. The Cornelii house is a typical villa rustica where Cornelius, Aurelia, Marcus, Cornelia, and Sextus live, along with Davus and all of the unruly slaves. The marble portrait bust of the owner Caius Cornelius Rufus, now at the Antiquarium of Pompeii, was originally placed at the doors of the atrium.

circa 150 BCE

House of the Oven
Also known as the House of the Baker (Casa del Forno), the current layout of the house dates back to the second century BCE, however, following the earthquake, it was transformed into a bakery during the renovations carried out in 62 CE, by adapting the rooms on the ground floor to production rooms, while the owners probably lived on the upper floor. The baking business was very profitable, as evidenced by over 30 bakeries known so far in Pompeii. Besides the set up of a large oven for baking bread at the back of the house, the renovation of the building transformed the peristylium into a paved room intended to house four huge lava millstones to grind grain and water basins to wash it. The milling machines were operated by slaves or donkeys, who pushed the wooden beams inserted sideways into the upper piece. An entire skeleton of a donkey was found in the stable, next to the peristylium.

circa 150 BCE

House of Loreius Tiburtinus (Octavius Quartio)
The House of Loreius Tiburtinus (more correctly the House of Octavius Quartius after its true owner) is renowned for its meticulous and well-preserved artwork as well as its large gardens. The name of this house was wrongly derived from electoral advertisements of sorts etched in the outer façade, some saying "Vote for Loreius" and others "Vote for Tiburtinus." In fact, the last known owner of the house was a man named Octavius Quartio, whose bronze seal was found inside the house during excavations between the years 1916 and 1921.

The house is a true miniature villa, typical of the dwellings favoured by the Pompeian elite shortly before the eruption, which reflects and simplifies the architectural and decorative styles of the great villas of the Gulf of Naples. One enters the house through a cast of the entrance door, which leads to a modest atrium; an oecus or a banquet hall, houses a rare example of a preserved frieze with two painted registers, the lower of which is decorated whith scenes from the Trojan War, whilst the upper depicts the adventures of Heracles. The house is arranged into two residential areas at different levels, both characterised by two artificial water channels called euripi, perpenducular to each other and interspersed with fountains and waterfalls. The upper euripus was decorated with statues of the Muses and small Egyptian style sculptures, copies of which are present here, and it ended in a small grotto-style triclinium with a fountain, decorated on one side with a depiction of Narcissus. While on the other a depiction of Pyramus and Thisbe, two ill-fated lovers from rival families who would die during their attempted escape.

circa

Domus of Volusii Fausti
I.2.10
The house (domus di Volusii Fausti) was named after an inscription found on a bronze seal found in the archaeological remains. The entrance to the house is located on the Via Stabiana. The House of Volusii Fausti had a thermopolium to the left and a small shop to the right of the entrance.

circa 150 BCE

House of the Tragic Poet
The House of the Tragic Poet (also called The Homeric House or The Iliadic House) is a Roman house in Pompeii, Italy dating to the second century BCE. The house is famous for its elaborate mosaic floors and frescoes depicting scenes from Greek mythology. Although the size of the house itself is in no way remarkable, its interior decorations are not only numerous but of the highest quality among other frescoes and mosaics from ancient Pompeii.

circa 150 BCE

House of Pansa
The house, which takes up the entire block, is a typical example of a Roman aristocratic home where the rooms are symmetrically and inter-axially located around the atrium and the peristylium. At the centre of the severe façade made of tuff opens the monumental entrance framed with capitals typical of the mid-second century BCE, the time when the house was constructed. It is remarkable to note an inscription painted in red and now protected with glass, one of seven in the Oscan language found in the city, which provided precise instructions to the troops, directing them towards certain places of defense if the enemy were to attack.

circa 150 BCE

House of the Gilded Cupids
The house, one of the most elegant of the Imperial era, is set around the spectacular peristylium with a rare rhodium type of garden, with higher columns on one side surmounted by a fronton, which conveyed a sacred aura to the overlooking rooms. Among these, particular attention should be given to the large hall, characterised by high quality mythological paintings and having a mosaic floor with a central rosette according to the fashion of the Augustan era. The religiousness of the peristylium is also emphasised by the presence of two places of worship: the aedicula of the lararium for traditional domestic worship and a particular chapel, dedicated to the worship of Egyptian gods.

circa 150 BCE

House of Cryptoporticus
The House of Cryptoporticus features a large underground passageway (cryptoporticus) and a small bath complex, both of which are rare features in Pompeian houses. They are decorated with recently restored exquisite Second Style Roman wall paintings that have distinctive designs. The construction of the house, with its elegant wall decoration, was part of a complicated series of events, often separated or joined with the adjacent House of the Lararium of Achilles for more than three centuries following the alternation of the owners, by doors and passages being closed.

circa 150 BCE

House of Championnet
The House of Championnet is one of the most sumptuous homes of Pompeii, which covers at least four levels sloping scenically towards the sea. The house consists of a rich atrium with four columns and with multi-coloured mosaic floors and geometric decorations. A thermal system was installed in the rooms situated on the lower floors, already active in the late republican era (mid second to early first century BCE). The rich wall decorations were reproduced in many designs from the late 18th century and the early 19th century.

circa 150 BCE

House of the Geometric Mosaics
It is one of the largest houses in the entire city with over 60 rooms occupying an area of 3000 square metres. It scenically extends on two levels with a series of terraces, exploiting the natural slope of the land, offering guests who entered the panorama of the valley of the Sarno. It is richly decorated with black and white floor mosaics in labyrinth and checkerboard patterns. The house derives from the union of two pre-existing atrium houses and shows the typical layout of a Roman house: a large atrium followed by the tablinum, which provided access to the portico and the large peristylium. The construction of the peristylium led to further expansion of the dimensions of the house, which reached the Forum area. The structure that can be seen today derives from the restoration works after the earthquake in 62 CE, when the façade was rebuilt.

circa 150 BCE

House of the Lovers
It is considered one of the jewels of Pompeii due to its unique second floor and well-preserved decorations, including what Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA) describes as frescoes and mosaics of “mollusks and fish in idyllic landscapes.” First unearthed in 1933, the building derives its name from an inscription found near an image of a duck. Written in Latin, it reads, “Like bees, lovers lead a life as sweet as honey.”

circa 150 BCE

House of the Europa Ship
The modern name of the house derives from the presence of graffiti etched on the north wall of the peristylium, of a large cargo ship called "Europa" flanked by smaller vessels. Besides the imitation masonry in coloured stucco, the semi-columns at the top of the walls are remarkable, a type of decoration derived directly from Greek models of the third and second centuries BCE, very rare in Pompeii.

circa 150 BCE

House of Romulus and Remus
The House or the Domus of Romulus and Remus was erected in the second century BCE, in the same period when a unique sort of sidewalk, decorated with a pebbles mosaic, was realized in front of the house. Located in a prestigious district of the city, in proximity of a city gate and the main public buildings, the house has a traditional plan: the entrance leads to the atrium with impluvium, surrounded by private rooms.

circa 175 BCE

House of Epidius Rufus
This large house, built in the Samnite period in the second half of the second century BCE, may have belonged to either Marcus Epidius Rufus or Marcus Epidius Sabinus, to judge from the number of times these two names appear in the election propaganda on the façade and on the walls of the neighbouring buildings.

Outside, a two-step podium runs along the façade, an unusual architectural feature. Beyond the entrance vestibule is an atrium of Corinthian type of an imposing size, with sixteen columns with Doric capitals set around the impluvium basin in the centre. This is the most striking of the rare Corinthian atrium in Pompeii (in other words with a row of columns set along the side of the impluvium). All around were various rooms, but unlike the canonical scheme, here the "alae" were at the centre of the side walls instead of at the back. They were preceded by a pair of Ionic columns and the corners piers had capitals with the heads of maenads or divinities. In the "ala" of the northwest side there is a shrine which the dedicatory inscription on the podium tells us was erected by two freedman named Diadumeni in honour of the Lares and the Genius of their master Marcus, certainly one of the two public personages cited above.

circa 175 BCE

House of the Labyrinth
The House of the Labyrinth lies at the rear of the House of the Faun on the Vico del Mercurio. The house, first excavated in 1834 CE, dates from the Samnite period and features two atria, each with their own separate entrance off the north side of the Vicolo del Mercurio as shown on the plan opposite. Constructed in the late second century BCE, this dwelling with a double atrium and peristyle was seriously damaged during Sulla's siege of 89 BCE. It subsequently became property of the powerful Sextilii family, and the domus underwent major renovation, which was later followed by further modifications and extensions that saw the addition of a small bathing area and a bakery to the original nucleus of the structure.

circa 180 BCE

House of Triptolemus
Since the second century BCE the house (Casa di Trittolemo) was a lavish domus provided with two atriums and two peristyles, which had both a board andprivate areas. The house is inserted in a block which was occupied since the third century BCE, and after 80 BCE changed into a single property by attaching the nearby house of Romulus and Remus. The structural modifications and the renovation of the decorative furnishings document the wealth and importance of its owner’s role, who was probably one of the notables of the Sullan colony.

circa 180 BCE

House of the Wild Boar
This house (Casa del Cinghiale), which opens on Via dell'Abbondanza, is named after a refined mosaic that decorates the entrance and represents a wild boar attacked by dogs. This theme, also common in other Pompeian houses, had the function of removing evil spirits from the house. The large atrium is decorated with a carpet of imperial age mosaics surrounded by a motif that depicts the city walls with its doors and towers. On the bottom there is a large garden where an exedra has been created that reproduces on a smaller scale that of Alessandro in the Casa del Fauno (House of the Faun).

circa 180 BCE

House of Vesbinus
Also known as the "House of the Boar" (Casa del Cinghiale), it opens up on the Queen's Street (Vicolo della Regina). According to Della Corte, a mutilated electoral recommendation written on the façade between the two entrances, on the left of the doorway, the house belonged to someone naed Vesbinus.

circa

House of Marcus Fabius Rufus
The grand complex of houses of Marcus Fabius Rufus also known as the "House of the Golden Bracelet" covers at least four levels of living space with panoramic terraces that slope scenically towards the sea. The terraces are built on top of the walls of the city but in pre-Roman times the houses were situated on the sides of one of the city gates, Porta Occidentalis, which was the intersection of via di Nola and via delle Terme. The buildings have a luxurious decoration on the floor with coloured marble mosaics (opus sectile), as well as mythological frescoes on the wall, views of gardens and reproductions of original Greek works of the 4th century. The houses were still inhabited at the time of the eruption as evidenced by the numerous victims found, of whom casts were made. The House of the Golden Bracelet owes its name to a large gold bracelet worn by one of the victims.

circa

House of the Dioscuri
The house, one of the most sumptuous and vast of the last period of Pompeii, is characterized by a complex architecture of the spaces and a particular richness of the paintings. The house has two halls, connected by an elegant rhodium peristyle, that is, with the northern arm scenographically higher than the others, from which there is a deep pool used for water games and overlooked by an elegant environment of living room whose walls were originally covered with marble, a fact not common in Pompeii. The main atrium has 12 columns in tufo on it open up sumptuous rooms, used for the reception and convivium closed on the ground a small garden; the secondary atrium is almost entirely occupied by service areas and those dedicated to rest. The wall decoration is the work of the same workshop that worked in the nearby Casa dei Vettii, the most significant paintings are visible at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, including squares at the entrance with the Dioscuri Castore and Polluce, who gave the house its name and whose copies have been recently relocated in situ.

circa

House of Meleager
The House of Meleager, situated on the Via di Mercurio, was first excavated in 1829, then again in 1836 and 1966. Behind its simple facade this Samnite house hides an interior richly decorated in a mixture of first, third and fourth styles. The house of Meleagro is named after one of its frescoes, depicting Meleagro and Atlanta.

circa

House of Orion Mosaic
Facing onto the Vicolo dei Balconi, the external façade and the entrance are embellished by First Style decoration, partially displayed in the Antiquarium, in the form of a stucco imitation of a wall with rows of square stone blocks. The House takes its name from the elegant floor mosaic (emblemata) discovered in its left wing, with a rare depiction of the catasterism of the mythical hero Orion, that is the transformation of the hunter into one of the most fascinating celestial constellations, by will of Zeus. The scene is connected, by virtue of a similar composition, to a second incomplete mosaic present in the diurnal cubiculum, which also depicts Orion as the hunter of a monster and beasts, aided by a butterfly. Both works highlight the high cultural level of the owners.

The dwelling, previously discovered during the excavations of the 19th century, possesses a spacious central atrium, surrounded by rooms decorated in the First Style with detailed floor mosaics. Precisely because of these decorative associations, the house reveals a rather retro style for its era, with stucco frames and panels of the most ancient Pompeian style in place of more modern pictorial cycles of the Fourth Style.

circa

House of the Prince of Naples
Located in Regio VI, Insula XV, the House of the Prince of Naples ( Casa del Principe di Napoli) is a Roman domus (townhouse) located in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii near Naples, Italy. The structure is so named because the Prince and Princess of Naples attended a ceremonial excavation of selected rooms there in 1898. The house is painted throughout in the Pompeian Fourth Style and is valued because its decoration is all of a single style and single period, unlike many others that are often a mix of styles from different periods.

The house was formed from two earlier houses being joined together. The house had two floors but the upper one almost completely collapsed following the eruption. The atrium was of Tuscan order, with a central impluvium: it was probably restored shortly before the earthquake of 62 which caused damage to the structure. The atrium area preserves the frescoes from the last phase of decoration.

The rear part of the domus consists of richly decorated rooms around the portico and the central garden. The house fronted the Viccola dei Vetti and the spaces on either sides of the main entrances appear to have been shops. The holes on the outside of the north facade indicate the fixings for a canopy. The house was inhabited at the time of the eruption as demonstrated by the discovery of a skeleton, remains of food and domestic possessions in most rooms.

circa

House of Leda and the Swan Fresco
The Domus of Leda and the swan was found along Via del Vesuvio, during interventions to make the excavation fronts safe and reprofile. The house takes its name from the refined fresco found in a cubicle (bedroom). The scene full of sensuality represents the junction between Jupiter, turned into a swan, and Leda, wife of Tindar king of Sparta. From the double embrace, first with Jupiter and then with Tindarus, the twins Castor and Pollux (the Dioscuri), Elena - future wife of Menelaus king of Sparta and cause of the Trojan war - and Clitennestra, and then wife of Agamemnon, king of Argos and brother of Menelaus.

The entire room is characterized by refined IV style decorations, with delicate floral ornaments, interspersed with griffins with cornucopias, flying cupids, still lives and scenes of animal fights. Even on the ceiling, ruinously collapsed under the weight of lapilli, extended the harmony of these precious drawings, whose fragments were recovered by the restorers to reconstruct the plot. On one of the walls of the atrium, placed in front of the entrance of the house, a great figure of Hermes (Mercury) with bright colors has also recently emerged.

circa

House of the Ara Maxima
The House of the Ara Maxima (Casa dell’Ara Massima), literally meaning the House of the Great Altar, also known as the House of Narcissus (Casa di Narcisso), or the House of Pinarius is a small but elegantly decorated house situated on the Via del Vesuvio. It was originally excavated between 1903 and 1904 CE. The house has an irregular layout consisting of a series of rooms arranged round a central atrium. A two storey house, sections of the upper floor also still survive. The main panel on one of the room-walls contains a mythological scene of Narcissus. On each of the white panels on the side walls is a small picture of a fantastic creature.

circa

House of the Scene of Ancient Hunt
The house (Casa della Caccia Antica), dating back to the second century BCE, fully represents the typical layout of a Roman house with an entrance, atrium and tablinum all on a single axis. Because of the limited space, the peristylium at the back is highly irregular. It has only two columns instead of four, which mostly form an acute angle. Among the frescoes, made some years before the eruption as part of the restoration works, two mythological paintings stand out, belonging to the decoration of the central area, overlooking the garden. One can see the god Apollo and a Nymph, as well as Diana and Actaeon, a hunter who was turned into a stag by the goddess because he had seen her naked while she was bathing. The hunting scene that gave its name to the house, found in the peristylium, has become discoloured because of meteorological phenomena.

circa

House of Cecilio Giocondo
The rigorous portal made of tuff and the construction technique of the internal walls indicate that the house was originally built in the second century BCE but underwent major restructuring and fine redecoration of all sections in the last period of life of the city, when the Caecilii family became the new owners. The bronze portrait found in front of the tablinum, currently exhibited at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, is dedicated to the founder and owner of the house in 79 CE, Lucius Caecilius Iucundus.

Cecilio Giocondo was a banker, as evidenced by the exceptional discovery in the house of his archive of 154 waxed boards which recorded the amounts paid between 52 and 62 CE to persons on whose behalf he had sold goods (especially slaves) or received rents, while retaining commission at 1-4%. Two marble reliefs were discovered in the house, which adorned the home chapel (lararium) of the atrium and represented the effects that the earthquake of 62 CE had on some public buildings in Pompeii.

circa

House of Obelius Firmus
One of the largest and most complex dwellings at Pompeii which, with its façade, occupies almost the entire short side of the block. The house is laid out across two atria and a peristyle. The first atrium, with tuff columns, was monumental and grandiose, and embellished with an elegant marble decor which emphasised the wealth of the owner. Located along the back edge of the impluvium, in such a way that they were visible from outside the house,were a cartibulum, or ornamental table, with lion’s feet supports, a grooved base which supported a marble statue of a satyr, and a marble table whose supports are still visible today. On the right-hand side of the atrium we have a wooden strongbox covered in iron sheet, which was discovered during the excavations. The second atrium with Doric columns was surrounded by residential and service rooms. The house was built during the Samnite period, for an upper class local family. In all likelihood this was the house of Marcus Obellius Firmus, who played a prominent role in the political life of the city, and whose tomb was found in the nearby Necropolis of Porta Nola.

circa

House of Ceii
The severe façade of the House of Ceii, featuring panels of white stucco and cubic capitals placed above the door jambs, allows us to appreciate one of the rare examples of ancient dwellings in the late-Samnite period (second century BCE). Upon entering the house one notices the impluvium bath which is made of fragments of amphorae set on edge, a common technique used in Greece and attested in Pompeii also in the "House of the Ancient Hunt". The back wall in the small garden is decorated with wild animals, a highly successful theme in the decoration of open areas. The side walls depict Egyptian style landscapes with animals of the Nile Delta, which probably indicated a link between the owner of the house and the cult of Isis, widespread in Pompeii in the last years of life of the city. Based on an electoral inscription (inspect) painted on the façade, the house probably belonged to the magistrate Lucius Ceius Secundus.

circa

House of Paquius Proculus
The first layout of the house of Paquius Proculus (visible from the outside only) dates back to the Samnite period (second century BCE) as indicated by the cubic capitals at the entrance, where the floor holds a mosaic depicting a chained dog crouched in front of an open door. This subject is found in Pompeii in the decorations of the Imperial period as a symbol of the custody of the dwelling. The atrium is entirely covered with fine panelled mosaic with multi-coloured animals alluding to prosperity, and two portraits, one male and one female.

The decorations of the residential areas open to the peristylium are also of high quality: floors inlaid with precious marble and refined figurative mosaics, made with tiny multi-coloured tiles on supports and placed at the centre of mosaic floors. That of the triclinium depicts the comic scene of six pygmies fishing, created by a famous studio active in the city. Another picture that was detached and preserved at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples is the scene of a donkey collapsing under the weight of a drunken Silenus. The house is attributed to Publius Paquius Proculus or, according to others, to Caius Cuspius Pansa, both mentioned in the several electoral posters painted on the façade.

circa

Domus of M. Caesi Blandi
Also called the House of Mars and Venus, it was excavated in 1848 and 1862. The atrium has a tuff impluvium and almost all the mosaic flooring , which near the entrance takes on the design of dolphins, then follows the tablinum and the peristyle, with the colonnade almost completely intact; in three rooms there are both remains of paintings and a mosaic floor.

circa

House of Ephebus
The House of Ephebe (Casa dell'Efebo), typical dwelling of middle class merchants, enriched at the end of the first century CE thanks to commercial trade, composed by the aggregation of several houses. The most lavish area of the house is located around the garden and a large triclinium overlooks its porch with a centre box of the floor decorated with inlaid marble, opus sectile, with rose and lotus flowers, unique in the Pompeii landscape. There is a small chapel in the garden dedicated to worship, decorated by a large painting of Mars and Venus. A number of statues, originally in the garden, were moved to other rooms of the house at the time of the eruption to avoid being damaged by the restorations in progress. Among these is a remarkable bronze statue of Ephebe, reworking of Greek themes of the 5th century BCE, which is now found at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, adapted for use as a lamp bearer, which gave the name to the house. The house probably belonged to Publius Cornelius Tages, a wine merchant whose name appears in the electoral inscriptions read near and on amphorae found inside the dwelling.

circa

House of Vetutius Placidus
I.8.9
The House of Vetutius Placidus is among the best examples for the joint use of a structure as a private and commercial establishment. The private part was characterised by the triclinium, the room where Pompeians used to eat lying down or reclining on the beds, according to the Greek custom and by an evocative viridarium-triclinium, a garden with the summer triclinium.

circa

House of the Small Fountain
The layout of the house (Casa della Fontana Piccola), situated in an important position along via di Mercurio, is set in such a way that the beautiful fountain that decorates the garden at the back can be seen immediately from the entrance and depicts the high social status of the owner. The precious fountain, recently restored, is covered with colourful mosaics and shells and is adorned by a small bronze statue of a fisherman and a cherub (the copy is exhibited). All around, the side walls of the peristylium are frescoed with great landscape views painted only a few years before the eruption, including a remarkable seaside town, a very popular theme at the time and particularly suitable for decorating gardens. The cement roofs of the two atriums, repositioned to the original height, date back to restoration carried out in 1971 and allow the old volume of the house to be perceived once again.

circa

House of the Large Fountain
The austere façade in tufa block, which faces onto Via di Mercurio, survives from the original layout of the house (Casa della Fontana Grande) which dates to the beginning of the second century BCE. The internal space, however, underwent various alterations: the two atria - the smaller of which is marked by six Doric columns - were originally joined but later separated, and a portico supported by brick columns was built behind the tablinum. During the final years of the city, the large fountain which gave the house its name was erected against the back wall of the small garden. The fountain took the shape of a niche surmounted by a pediment, and on the inside it was coated with polychrome glass mosaics. Water gushed out from a dolphin shaped bronze jet, and flowed down a small flight of steps into the collecting basin below; tragic marble masks decorate the sides of the niche.

circa

House of the Anchor Mosaic
The house (Casa dell’ Ancora), which opens on via di Mercurio, is named after the mosaic of a black anchor depicted at the entrance, which represents a symbol of peace and safety that the home offered to its inhabitants; it has an original layout compared to traditional layouts in Pompeii. The back is in fact set on two levels, at different heights: the upper level is centred around a large terrace which had three large overlooking reception rooms and the lower level is taken up by a garden, which is much lower, around which there is a covered portico with pillars. There is a large aedicula at the centre of one of the wings of the portico, depicting two rudders and an altar that form a chapel intended for the worship of Venus.

circa 250 BCE

Domus of Vesonio Primo
VI.14.20
Also known as the House of Orpheus (Casa di Orfeo), the house of House of Vesonius Primus (Domus di Vesonio Primo) is situade on the Via della Vesuvio, directly adjacent to the house and fullonica of Vesonius Primus. The house occupies an area of approx. 415 square meters. The house was excavated between December 1874 and April 1875 under the direction of Antonio Sogliano. The oldest technique or form of ashlar masonry to be found is the opus africanum of Sarno stone; used in Carthaginian and ancient Roman, dating back to the third century BCE. The facade of the house of Orpheus is connected to the next door shop (numbered 21). According to Emil Presuhn the dipinti on the exterior walls of VI.14.20-22 (possibly) identified the owner as Vesonius Primus.

Garcia y Garcia states that the 1943 bombing caused nearby explosions that led to the damage and partial loss of the IVth Style plaster on the south and north walls of the entrance corridor. A big guard dog (inspect) was discovered, and casted with plaster, on the 20th November 1874 CE chained in the entrance.

circa

House of the Red Walls
The original layout of the building (Casa delle Pareti Rosse) dates back to the Republican age and has changed significantly after the earthquake of 62 CE. Renovation works were still in progress at the time of the eruption in 79 CE as evidenced by the presence of unpainted plaster on the walls of various rooms. In two of them the wall decoration was already completed with its characteristic red colour that named the house. The lararium, which is a small aedicula, is found in the atrium, intended for domestic worship, where six bronze statues of protective deities of the house were found.

circa

House of the Botanical Garden
This large house (Casa dell'Orto Botanico) was re-opened to the public in 2016, after the significant stabilisation works carried out in Regio VIII. The residential part occupies the northeastern area of the structure, while the southern area is taken up by a large garden which today houses the Botanical Garden, and which gives the house its name. The Botanical Garden, which is tended to by the Superintendency of Pompeii’s Laboratory of Applied Research, covers an area of over 800 square meters, where all species which were cultivated in the ancient city are featured today, including: fruit trees and sacred, medicinal and textile plants, as well as vegetables. The Garden also features varied routes divided by theme.

circa

House of Queen Carolina
This house (Casa della Regina Carolina) was opened for the first time to the public in 2016, after the impressive work of securing the Regio VIII. The house was largely explored during the French era (1798-1815 CE), and owes its name to Queen Carolina Murat; the name was later changed to the "House of Adonis", at the resumption of the excavations by the Bourbons. Preserves traces of the rooms on the upper floor and a large garden, at the bottom of which a small temple-shaped structure with refined frescoes housed a statue of Diana while a marble base supported a portrait.

circa

House of Popidius Celsinus
The House of Popidius Celsinus (Casa della Podidius Celsinus), also called the House of Lime (Casa del Calcare) for the discovery of some remains of a lime mixture on the floor of its room. When the Vesuvius erupted, the dwelling was still under construction.

circa

House of Fabius Amandius
The residential building (Casa di Fabio Amandio), which has a narrow and elongated shape, is a typical example of a small house for the middle class and dates back to the Samnite period. Compared to the larger ones, this is a miniature two-storey house. On the top floor there is long balcony overlooking Via dell’Abbondanza (literally meaning the 'path of abundance'). Due to the limited interior space, the staircases were multi-functional leading to a room facing the road where the discovery of about ten reeds has led to the hypothesis that the space served as textile workshop.

The atrium, created by the amalgamation of three rooms, which originally belonged to the adjacent House of Paquius Proculus, has a floor covered with mosaics and walls painted in the Fourth style, with large decorations on a red background and panels with pastoral and sacred landscapes. The viridarium, which filled the entire dwelling with air and light, still has its walls decorated with plant motifs to visually enlarge the space. The jamb of the triclinium is decorated by the representation of a pretty marble fountain where birds come to drink.

circa

House of the Floral Lararium
The layout of this vast dwelling today is the result of the merging of two independent units, characterised by the same planimetric outline, which saw the actual residential sector located to the west, on Via di Nocera, and a large open garden space to the east. In all likelihood, the complex which was born as a result of this incorporation must have had a commercial function, or otherwise have been open to the public, as the presence of electoral inscriptions in one of the internal rooms would suggest. The large dwelling preserves many of its original wall paintings, one of which is the Pompeian Fourth Style decoration of the large hall (oecus) facing onto the garden, with small mythological paintings located at the centre of the yellow ochre panels. The elegant lararium (a small shrine like structure for domestic worship) which gives the domus its name, is also noteworthy; located inside a small cubiculum, it is decorated with winged cupids and scattered flowers. Meanwhile the garden (hortus) area contains a large masonry triclinium erected over a cocciopesto floor, containing marble inserts.

circa

House of the Moralist
The current layout of the house (Casa del Moralista) derives from two different homes being merged. Almost one third is taken up by a large garden that houses a triclinium for banquets that took place during the summer months, and the walls of which are frescoed with images of birds pecking fruits and berries. The walls also bear painted inscriptions that gave the house its name and that list a number of precepts on the expected behaviour during festive occasions, like how to avoid disputes, how to ward off the looks of other men's wives and how to wash one's feet.

A small place of worship located in the garden and dedicated to Diana, as evidenced by a marble statuette found here, could also be admired from the triclinium. The house probably belonged to wine merchants: Marcus Epidius Hymenaeus, Caius Arrius Crescens and Titus Arrius Polites, whose names appear on five electoral posters on the façade of the house.

circa

House of Trebio Valente
The house belonged to the Trebii family, one of the most powerful in the city before the Roman conquest and again in the foreground in recent years prior to the eruption. The house, with its lobby in the atrium and peristylium, is considered a typical house from the era of the Roman Republic. Its façade, destroyed by the Anglo-American bombings in 1943, showed the most impressive example of mural advertising in the ancient world, covered with black painted inscriptions, a small part of which, on the eastern side, are preserved. The inscriptions have provided a vivid picture of everyday life in the city with countless electoral programs and advertisements of games that would have been held in the amphitheatre. The garden that opens up at the back of the house hosts a summer triclinium with lively wall decorations in coloured boxes covered by a pergola that is supported by four columns.

circa

House of the Long Helmet or the Theatrical Murals
The residential complex (Casa di Casca Longus o dei Quadretti Teatrali) consists of two adjacent houses, which have origins dating back to the second century BCE and are presently utilized as a main and secondary atrium. The primary atrium is adorned with exceptionally well-executed paintings that replaced previous decorations and theatrical scenes. These paintings, inspired by the tragedies of Menander, showcase remarkable artistic quality and were created during the Augustan era.

The overall ambiance exudes elegance, with the impluvium bath featuring a covering of colorful marble. The compluvium, responsible for draining rainwater, has been completely reconstructed and embellished with pictorial terracotta water spouts. Adjacent to the impluvium, there is a distinctive table supported by three marble pillars shaped like lion paws. Engraved on the table is the name of the original owner, Publius Servilius Casca Longus, who was one of the conspirators involved in the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC. This exceptional piece is part of the confiscated belongings linked to the assassin of Julius Caesar. It stems from the possessions of the affluent owner of the house, who was an avid collector of valuable items. This is further evident through the discovery of a silver plate and a bronze statue found in the cabinets within the atrium.

circa

House of the Lararium of Achilles
The residential structure exhibits a lavish and sophisticated pictorial ornamentation imbued with erudite literary allusions. The designation of the house derives from the stucco embellishment discovered in a room adjacent to the atrium, which likely served as a small domestic chapel. The stucco decoration portrays scenes from the Trojan War. The selection of this thematic motif, coupled with the presence of similar frescoes in the House of the Cryptoporticus, suggests that the house owner intended to underscore the ancestral heritage of their family and establish a connection with the illustrious history of Rome.

Notably, one of the rooms facing the garden showcases a sizable fresco portraying two immense elephants led by cupids who wield myrtle branches as reins, symbolizing the sacred plant associated with Venus. The composition likely represents a commemoration of the goddess's divine authority and influence, serving as an ode to her power.

circa

Villa Regina

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