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Barberini Mithraeum

Foto Soprintendenza Speciale Archeologia Belle Arti e Paesaggio di Roma

A hidden jewel in the historic center of Rome, a fascinating and mysterious little monument with a suggestive atmosphere: the so-called Barberini Mithraeum was discovered by chance in 1936 in the basement of the Palazzina Savorgnan di Brazzà, in the back garden of Palazzo Barberini, and is one of the best preserved places dedicated to the god Mithras in Rome. Precisely by virtue of its state of conservation, it represents a valuable documentation of the mystery cult of Iranian origin that was particularly widespread among the Roman legions in the Middle and Late Empire.

At the time open only to Mithras worshippers, the small underground building dates back to the 3rd century even if it reused earlier buildings of the 2nd century AD. It consists of a long rectangular hall (measuring about 11 meters x 6) covered with a barrel vault, and has a complex and interesting fresco decoration that in Rome presents comparisons only with the contemporary Mithraeum of Santa Prisca. On the back wall, ten small votive boards placed around the zodiac signs shed light on the history and the sacred feats of Mithras with the personifications of Sol (the Sun) and Luna (the Moon). Attention converges on the central scene of the taurobolium, a rare initiation scene where Mithras, flanked as usual by Cautes and Cautopates, ritually kills the bull.

Two benches (the so called praesepia) are arranged along the sides of the hall: here the initiates probably sat during the secret ceremonies and the sacred banquet celebrated in memory of the meal Mithras consumed together with the Sun god.

Photo Soprintendenza Speciale Archeologia Belle Arti e Paesaggio di Roma

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POINT (12.4894979 41.9026431)

Can be visited on the second and fourth Saturday of each month at 10.00 (individuals), at 11.30 (groups)
Only by guided or educational tour with compulsory booking subject to availability

Closed in August

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Barberini Mithraeum, Via delle Quattro Fontane, 13
Via delle Quattro Fontane, 13
41° 54' 9.5148" N, 12° 29' 22.1928" E


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