For those thinking of going to Rome now might be a good time as after 10 years the tunnels and Mithraeum
temple underneath Rome’s Terme di Caracalla (Baths of Caracalla) have been reopened to the public.
The Roman public baths were built between 212 and 216 AD, together with a temple dedicated to the god Mithras.
This temple, the Mithraeum, is the largest in the Rome. Mithraism was practised throughout the Roman Empire from 100 to 400 AD. The cult was popular among the Roman military and Mithraic temples were usually built underground in caverns,
caves or underneath existing structures. The temples were dark and windowless, with raised benches along the sidewalls for a ritual meal and a sanctuary at the far end with an altar.
The Mithraeum at the Baths ofCaracalla is 82 feet long and 33 feet wide, and has an unusual rectangular 8 foot deep blood pit at its centre, where bulls were sacrificed. The restoration cleared away a thick layer of mud which revealed black and white mosaics decorating the floor and a marble relief showing a bust of Mithras and a snake.
To celebrate the reopening, Michelangelo Pistoletto has installed his artwork ‘Il Terzo Paradiso’ (The Third Heaven) in the Baths of Caracalla gardens. The piece consists of ancient stone fragments and pieces of columns laid out in three circles. It will be on display until 6 January 2013.
Entrance to the Baths of Caracalla costs €6. Guided tours to the Mithraeum are available Tuesdays to Sundays and tickets cost €9 each; pre-booking is necessary and information on toursis available by calling 0039 06 3996 7700