Mithraeum

Mitreo di Santa Maria Capua Vetere - Mithraeum at Santa Maria Capua Vetere


Useful Information

Location: Santa Maria Capua Vetere
Open: All year Tue-Sun 9-18.
[2014]
Fee:
Classification: SubterraneaMithras Grotto
Light: electric
Dimension: L=12.18m, W=3.50m.
Guided tours:
Photography:
Accessibility:
Bibliography: N. Maciariello (1939): Politeismo e mitraicismo in Capua Vetere, Roma, fig 50,
A. Minto (1924): Notizie degli Scavi di Antichità, pp. 353ff; Tav. XVII..
Address: Mithraeum, Vico Mitreo 5, 81055 Santa Maria Capua Vetere, Tel: +39-0823-844206.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1922 rediscovered.
1924 excavated.

Description

The Mithraeum of Santa Maria Capua Vetere is a unique site. The rectangular underground room with a barrel vault is decorated with green and red six-point stars. There is a legend telling they were peppered with precious stones when the vault was discovered, but they were soon stolen. But little circular pieces of blue glass paste with a hole in the middle were found on the floor, which makes it probable that these glass decorations were once nailed into the stars. Probably there were glas pearls of different colours.

The back wall is decorated with a fresco showing the god Mitra while killing a bull. The clothes of the god are a red Phrygian cap with green and golden border and a colourful oriental toga with a cape. This scene is typical for Mitraeums and called the tauroctony. It is also the reason why those temples are underground. According to the legend Mithras has hunted the bull, overwhelmed its strength, then ridden it and led into the cavern, where he killed it. The fresco is dated to be from the second century BC.

On the long wall sides are brickwork benches with the surface inclined towards the wall. The believers were sitting here, but they were also used to place food and lanterns in the small basins and pits.