The Pompeiianum, a reconstructed Roman Villa in the German town of Aschaffenburg

It is picturesquely located high on a terrace ridge overlooking the River Main. Now a unique tourist attraction, the building is a testimony to the enthusiasm for Antiquities in the 19th century.

Pompejanum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Pompejanum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

The Pompeiianum was built between 1840 and 1850 by order of Kaiser Ludwig I of Bavaria who had been inspired by the excavations in Pompeii. It was loosely modelled on the House of the Diosuri (Casa dei Dioscuri) in Pompeii. The Kaiser chose to built the Villa in Aschaffenburg because of its mild, sunny climate and its attractive position. The Pompeiianum was never intended to be a royal residence. It was a place where art lovers could study antiquity and see how life was like in a Roman house.

Pompejanum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Pompejanum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

Pompejanum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Pompejanum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

Visitors stepping into the Pompeiianum find themselves transported back 2000 years into the world of a Roman patrician.

The Atrium, Pompejanum. Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

The Atrium, Pompejanum. Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

Detail of wall painting in the atrium, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Detail of wall painting in the 4th Pompeian style of the atrium, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

The Atrium, Pompejanum. Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

The Atrium, Pompejanum. Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

The rooms in the house are situated around the central atrium, an open inner courtyard which acted as the reception and living area. Cubicula (bedrooms) are arranged around all four sides of the atrium providing the perfect setting for original works of Roman art. Since 1994, Roman artefacts from the State Antiquities Collection and the Glyptothek in Munich are now on display inside the rooms of the Pompeiianum.

As a philhellene, Ludwig I patronized the arts and commissioned many neoclassical buildings, especially in Munich. He was also a frenetic collector. Through his agents, he managed to acquire such pieces as the Medusa Rondanini, the Barberini Faun, and the figures from the Aphaea temple on Aegina. The Glyptothek, which he commissioned, houses his collection of Greek and Roman sculptures.

Frament of Fresco from the theatre at Herculaneum, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Frament of Fresco from the theatre at Herculaneum, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

 Drunken Satyr statue, Pompejanum. Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Drunken Satyr statue, Pompejanum. Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

The splendid decoration of the interior and the mosaic floors were copied or adapted from ancient models.

Pompejanum, the Sacrarium, a place where sacred objects were kept, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Pompejanum, the Sacrarium, a place where sacred objects were kept, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

Directly behind the atrium, opposite the entrance, is a room open on two sides (though both sides could be closed with curtains or folding doors in Roman times), the tablinum.

The Tablinium facing the Atrium, decorated in the 4th Pompeii style, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

The Tablinium facing the Atrium, decorated in the 4th Pompeii style, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

The tablinum was the office in a Roman house, the master of the house (paterfamilias) centre for business, where he would receive his clients. It often had an attractive mosaic floor and wall paintings.

Painting from the Tablinum, Minerva Preventing Achilles from Killing Agamemnon, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Painting from the Tablinum, Minerva preventing Achilles from killing Agamemnon, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

Decorated coffered ceilings in the Tablinum, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Decorated coffered ceilings in the Tablinum, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

The Roman domus was typically designed so that anyone standing in the vestibule could see straight through the atrium and tablinum to the colonnaded garden in the back of the house (peristylium). This has clearly been recreated in the villa.

The Atrium, Tablinum and Peristylium, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

The Atrium, Tablinum and Peristylium, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

Instead of surrounding their houses with large lawns and gardens, the Romans created their gardens inside their domus. The peristylium was an open courtyard within the house; the columns surrounding the garden supported a shady roofed portico whose inner walls were often embellished with elaborate wall paintings.

The back part of the house is centred around the peristylium much as the front centred on the atrium. Surrounding the peristyle in the Pompeiianum are the summer triclinium, the winter tricinium.

Winter triclinium with wall painting, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Winter triclinium with wall painting, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

A triclinium is a formal dining room. It was named after the three couches (klinai, known as lectus triclinaris) typically found in this room. Each klinē was wide enough to accommodate three diners who reclined on their left side on cushions while some household slaves served multiple courses, and others entertained guests with music, song, or dance.

Summer triclinium with wall painting, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Summer triclinium with wall painting, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

Dining rooms, like other rooms in Roman houses, often had beautifully painted walls and mosaic floors like the ones reproduced at the Pompeiianum.

Mosaic floor inside the summer triclinium, Pompeiianum, idealized replica of a Roman villa, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Mosaic floor inside the summer triclinium, Pompeiianum, idealized replica of a Roman villa, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

In addition to the triclinia, surrounding the peristylium, are the culina (kitchen) and a single latrine. Wealthy matronae did not prepare meals; that was the job of their household slaves. The kitchen is complete with replica utensils and cooking wares. Baking was done in ovens, whose tops were used to keep dishes warm. Embers from the oven could be placed below metal braziers for a form of “stove-top” cooking as seen in this reconstructed kitchen.

The Culina, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

The Culina, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

The Culina, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

The Culina, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

Antique Roman glass, bronze vessels and Terra sigillata ware are among several authentic items on display too.

Beside the kitchen is a tiny room, no bigger than a cupboard, but one which often intrigues visitors most. It’s a Roman latrine. Single latrine in the house were located in or next to the kitchen. This was a typical arrangement which enabled the latrine to be used for the disposal of kitchen waste.

Reconstruction of a single latrine next to the culina (kitchen), Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Reconstruction of a single latrine next to the culina (kitchen), Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

Upstairs are more cubicula (bedrooms) where several display cases have been installed, displaying ancient household objects, medical and cosmetic utensils, jewellery, children’s toys and oil lamps.

Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

In World War II, the Pompeiianum was heavily damaged by Allied area bombing but it was totally reconstructed and restored. It opened to the public for the first time in 1994.

In March 1995 the restoration of five rooms on the upper floor began and these new rooms have been open to visitors since July 2002. The ancient works of art exhibited on a permanent basis originate for the most part from the State Collections of Antiquities and the Glyptothek in Munich, which co-oversee the Pompeiianum as a branch museum. Since 2009 the Collections of Antiquities and the Glyptothek have also presented special exhibitions that change every year. The exhibition “The Immortals – The Greek Gods” is currently being shown until October 2014.

The exhibition room, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

The exhibition room, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

Cave canem mosaic (beware of the dog), Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Cave canem mosaic (beware of the dog), Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

The Pompeiianum enables visitors to get a vivid impression of what a Roman villa looked like and how life was lived in the domus. It is open daily except Mondays 9:00 to 18.00 from April 2 to October 12.

About followinghadrian

I came, I saw, I photographed... follow me in the footsteps of Hadrian!
This entry was posted in Germany, Museum, Photography, Pompeii, Roman Domus and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Pompeiianum, a reconstructed Roman Villa in the German town of Aschaffenburg

  1. ritaroberts says:

    WOW ! This reconstructed Roman Villa is beautiful and your excellent photo’s do it justice Carole Thank you. Love the frescos. Well ! I love everything there. The mosaics , the architecture, the sculpture, and especially the Museum. WONDERFUL

    Liked by 1 person

  2. LuckyLuigi says:

    Fascinating as always

    Liked by 1 person

  3. John Marin says:

    Amazingly beautful visual feast. It lends a feeling of authenticity as if one were transported back into the years of early imperial Rome before the catastrophe of 79 A,D,

    Like

  4. Jane Rawoof says:

    Now I have more of a visual picture of an upper-class Roman house when I’m reading Roman novels! Gorgeous photos!

    Like

  5. Pingback: The Pompeiianum, a reconstructed Roman Villa in...

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