The Ancient Romans are renowned for violent entertainments, lavish lifestyle, and their huge range of indulgences.
Pompeii was no different, with one of their main indulgences involved the communal pleasures of the flesh, in other words, brothels! Lupanar was the largest pleasure houses in the city, known as the official of the brothel of Pompeii.
Brothels in Pompeii
Pompeii was once known for being the go-to holiday spot for rich citizens in Ancient Rome. The streets were packed with extravagant shops, various markets with exotic goods, and of course high-end brothels. When discovering the buried city of Pompeii, archaeologists found 25 separate brothels scattered all over the city, with each giving away numerous secrets to the city’s erotic past.
Back in ancient times, brothels were a common stop on an individual’s daily routine. As it was permitted both socially and legally in the city streets. Brothels held no stigma towards them and was a sensual and delightful attraction for many. However, the brothels did have a dark side to them, with many of the worker’s salves, with several stolen from their home countries to work in small dimly lit rooms with stone beds. The visitors saw the sensual atmosphere, with the walls decorated with beautiful frescos and the rooms divided by rich curtains, but the grand decorations hide the sad reality behind the worker’s life amidst the brothels.
Lupanar is known for being the biggest brothel in all of Pompeii, being a two-story building that housed ten separate rooms. With five rooms on the ground floor, and five larger rooms upstairs room. Each contained a stone bed, which most likely was fitted with a thin mattress and colourful sheets but were most likely very uncomfortable to sleep on for long periods. By far the biggest feature still seen today is the frescos covering the walls, with many artworks featured on the brothel’s interior walls. These featured nude females and males involved in a number of sexual acts, with historians believing they were either to arose visitors or to showcase a sexual menu for those unsure. Graffiti can also be seen along the walls, with around 120 examples of graffiti scratched into the walls by clients. Documenting their favourite sex workers, funny jokes, or simply marking their name on the building.
Lunapar saw a range of visitors, with Pompeii being the main trading town in Ancient Rome. Due to this, potential clients sought out the brothels by following a unique set of directions. As phalluses carved into the walls of Pompeii to point the exact route to the brothel, giving clear directions to the notorious Lupanar.