Architecture of Pompeii

The architecture of Pompeii is a blend of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman architecture. The Etruscans influenced the Romans in return.They have shaped the Roman architecture.

The excavation of Pompeii depicts the lifestyle, architecture, and art of that era. Frescos were popular in Pompeian art. It is present both outside and inside of the buildings. But mostly common outside, as the Romans were fond of outdoor living, many other types of artwork are found on the exterior portions.

The places for entertainment were also common, which reveals the lavish lifestyle of the Romans. The multistory buildings with richly decorated walls and marble floors were seen. The houses were of rectangular shapes and without windows.

The architecture of Pompeii is a blend of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman architecture. The Etruscans influenced the Romans in turn.They have shaped the Roman architecture.
Source: ArchDaily

The rich had magnificent villas called “Dumas”. The entrance gateway led to the atrium (a central hall without a roof), which was surrounded by different rooms and devoid of windows, and the drain pool was situated at the centre of the atrium. Due to the Greek influence, the quantity of rooms increased, and even the gardens got the addition of a porch surrounded by Corinthian columns. The Dumas were richly decorated. There were dining rooms, living rooms, all richly adorned.

For example, the house of Julia Felix, who was a rich Roman lady, had a private bath in her villa.

House of Julia Felix Source: Trip Advisor


The houses of middle and poor classes were much simpler in plan and designs.

Even the common houses show the rich lifestyle.

Now let us know the architecture of the Public buildings

  • RELIGIOUS- Temple of Apollo, Temple of Jupiter, Temple of Isis etc.
  • ECONOMIC- Covered market, Main forum.
  • ADMINISTRATIVE- Basilica, Municipal offices,
  • ENTERTAINMENT- Amphitheaters, Theater etc.



Temple of Jupiter.
Temple of Jupiter. Source: Brewminate

(The Roman architecture does not work independently. As it is the fusion of both Etruscan and Greek architecture,

The Temple of Jupiter (Greek name: Zeus) was the main deity of the Romans. It is an example of Etruscan architecture and was built in 509 B.C. and is located on the north side of the Forum. It has a rectangular structure with a high podium, which is characteristic of the Etruscan style. It is about 13 feet tall and serves as the foundation for the temple. A single staircase again shows the Tuscany style, which aimed to focus on the façade, or the front of the temple, which leads to the deep porch. The cella was divided into three parts, called tripartite cella, which is again different from Greek architecture, and contained two rows of columns and side aisles.

The temple contains 3 deities: Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. The materials used in the building are wood for the columns, again different from the Greeks as they used marbles and stones, mud and brick for the podium, and terracotta for the decoration. The pediment was simple, as it truly defines the Etruscan style. The top was decorated with statues.

The building technique used for the podium is ashlar masonry. The temple also got the back wall, which is also a vivid description of the Etruscan style. Today, the building is in a ruined form.

Before the Romans conquered Pompeii, Apollo was the central deity. But after their establishment Jupiter had replaced him. Jupiter was the king of all gods.



It is dated back to between B.C and 78 B.C. It stood at the western side of the forum, which was the civil and political building. It is the first basilica in the whole Roman Empire, and even the churches were built in the same style for many years. Example: Old Saint Peter’s Basilica is a church in Rome, built in the same design and also found in Byzantine architecture. This led to the development of Christian architecture.

Today, the structure is in such a ruined state that most of the columns have broken and the roof has been lost.

It is rectangular in shape with columns inside (peristyle). The main entrance is from the forum and an unroofed vestibule with five doorways. The building had three naves. This building resembles quite well the Forum, but the difference arises that it has got the large, double-pitched roof, whereas the Forum is open above. The hall inside has got a double story with 28 fluted Ionic columns in the first story and Corinthian columns, which are of smaller size, in the second. It was built in the Greek style with both Ionic and Corinthian columns. The side walls are covered with frescoes. The tribunal is at the back of the basilica. The statue of Emperor Augustus was placed in front of the tribunal. He was the first Emperor of the Roman Empire. The clerestory was lacking in this architecture. Later, it was introduced in Roman architecture.



amphitheatre of pompeii
Amphitheatre of Pompeii. Source: Encyclopedia                                    Britannica

It is situated in the south-eastern corner of the city. The first preserved stone amphitheater was constructed in 70 B.C. It even survived after the eruption. It is very simple in design, and the arena was excavated 6m below the ground level with earth from the excavations heaped up into the embankments that served as a seating area for the people. The people were seated according to the status that accommodates around 2000 people. The Colosseum in Rome is based on this structure. The access steps are from the outside staircase. The outer walls are covered with graffiti. The masses gather around to see the gladiator battles.



Roads in Pompeii were highly developed. The stones between the roads act as a barrier or the speed breaker and also the pathway to cross the road during the rainfall.



The architecture of Pompeii was highly developed, and influences from various regions revolutionised it.Like the Greeks, the Etruscans and even Italy, they were rich in building materials and good hard stone etc.

The temple of the goddess Isis in Pompeii is an example of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman architecture. Several buildings were rebuilt or repaired due to the earthquake that occurred in 62 A.D. This has also changed the original designs of some structures. Most of them are in a ruined condition. Still, it defines the architecture of that age. The graffiti has played an important role in acquiring a plethora of information regarding the architects, people, etc.

Pompeii has been erased from the map of the world for thousands of years, but it is still a living example of Roman life and how they used to live; the houses, food, society, religion, and so on. The perished land actually held a lot of secrets that helped archaeologists and historians to learn about the great Roman society and its architecture.


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