Santa Prisca Mithraeum

Mitreo di Santa Prisca


Useful Information

Location: Via di Santa Prisca 13.
Metro: Line B fermata circo Massimo
Bus: Via di Santa Prisca 175,715; Viale Aventino 60,75,118.
Tram: Line 3 fermata Aventino
Open: SEP to JUL 2nd and 4th Sunday 10.
Groups (-20): SEP to JUL 2nd and 4th Sunday 11, 12.
[2020]
Fee: Adults EUR 5.50, Children (0-11) free.
Online: Adults EUR 2.
Groups (-20): Per Group EUR 40, Guide EUR 90.
[2020]
Classification: SubterraneaMithras Grotto
Light: electric
Dimension: L=11m, W=4.5m.
Guided tours: D=60min. Italiano - Italian English Français - French Deutsch - German Español - Spanish
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Maarten Vermaseren, Carel van Essen (1965): The excavations in the mithraeum of the church of Santa Prisca in Rome, Leiden-Brill.
A. Capodiferro, P. Quaranta (2009): Il mitreo di Santa Prisca all’Aventino: guida, Milano: Electa.
Address: Parrocchia di Santa Prisca, Via di Santa Prisca 11, 00153 Roma, Tel: +39-06-574-3798.
Mitreo di Santa Prisca, Sovrintendenza, CoopCulture, Tel: +39-06-39967702. E-mail:
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

95 land purchased by Trajan and his town house erected.
~200 mithraeum created by a member of the imperial family.
395 mithraism forbidden, mithraeum destroyed and church erected.
1934 mithraeum discovered by Augustinian Catholic monks.
1952-1968 further excavation by Dutch archaeologists Maarten Vermaseren (UU) and Carel van Essen (NIR).

Description

The Mitreo di Santa Prisca (Santa Prisca Mithraeum) is located below the church Santa Prisca. It is actually older than the church, the church was built on top of the mithraeum in the 2nd century. And even this mithraeum was built over a more ancient structure. The mithraeum is rectangular with a barrel vault, 11m long and 4.5m wide. The floor is actually divided in three parts, a central aisle which is 1.6m wide, and two benches or raised platforms along the walls which are 1.35m wide and 75cm high. Before the entrance there are two alcoves in which two torch-bearing statues of Cautes and Cautopates were located.

Beneath the mithraeum there are three more rooms to the left, the apparatorium or dressing room, the baptistery, and the room of the initiations. The apparatorium was the place where the ministers put on their robes and came out in procession for religious functions. The baptistery is also called room of Caelus, with a large water basin used for the purifying during initiations. And the room of the initiations was used for ritual Mithraic trials which are actually unknown. Nevertheless there are legends of blood sacrifices of victims or bull, which were never backed by archaeologic evidence. Most likely those legends were told by the Christians to disparage the cult.

This mithraeum is probably the most complete of all remaining mithraeums. It has the adjacent rooms and the frescoes are almost completely preserved. And the tauroctony is very detailed and well preserved. The point of the bull’s tail is shaped like a large wheat ear, a symbol for the fertility resulting from the blood of the slaughtered bull.

The room is quite small and so tours can have only up to 7 participants. There are tours on two Sundays per month and reservation is mandatory. Only 20 individual visitors and two groups of 20 are allowed on such a Sunday.