Mamertine Prison (Rome)

Memtine Prison (Rome)


Description of Mamertine Prison

Memtine Prison (Rome)

Clivo Argentario 1
Tel. 06- 679 29 02
Bus: 84, 85, 87, 175, 186, 810, 850
Open: 9am- 12:30pm, 2- 5pm daily


The prison of Mamertina or Mamertine prison (Italian: Carcere Mamertino), in ancient times Tullian, was a prison (carcer) located in Komitiume in ancient Rome. It was located on the northeastern slope of Capitol Hill, overlooking the Curia and the imperial forum of Nerva, Vespasian and Augustus. Between the Mamertine Prison and Tabularium (the recording house) was the staircase leading to Arks Capitolin, known as the Hemon Staircase. The church of San Giuseppe dei Falegnami is now above the Mamertine prison.

According to tradition, the prison was built around 640-616. BC by Ankus Marcius. It was originally created as a cistern for a spring in the floor of the second lower level. During Tullian, the former tank was dried to make room for prisoners. It was connected with the main sewage system of ancient Rome, therefore all bodies of executed people were simply thrown into the sewers of the Eternal City. The bodies were washed away without burial. It was here that the brave Gallic leader Vercingetorix met his end in 52 BC after the defeat and capture of them by Julius Caesar. Here the Apostle Peter was also held as a prisoner for his religious beliefs. It is said that he miraculously opened a spring in prison in which he baptized prison guards. Peter's inverted cross is a reference to the apostle Peter. The fact is that he was crucified upside down on an inverted cross.


Согласно Ливию, Туллианум был построен при Анко Марцио в седьмом веке до нашей эры. Название происходит от tullus (источник воды), хотя некоторые считают, что оно происходит от некоторых традиций, которые связывают его с инициативой Сервио Туллио или Тулло Остилио.

Имена Кайо Вибио Руфино и Марко Коччео Нерва, которые вмешались в памятник в год своего консульства (22 г. н.э.), выгравированы на раме фасада ранней имперской эпохи.

Христианизация комплекса восходит к 8 веку, периоду, к которому относятся следы фрески, найденной в Туллиане, и обе комнаты были преобразованы в часовни. В этот же период это место стало называться Мамертинской тюрьмой.

Сейчас это музей, и поэтому его можно посетить.

Туллианум цитируется многими античными авторами настолько, что он является одним из немногих неоспоримых краеугольных камней зданий на Форуме, который используется для точной идентификации других близлежащих памятников благодаря перекрестным ссылкам. Плиний Старший вспоминал о его расположении к западу от Курии Гостилии. Из других источников известно, что он находился, как и на Форуме, возле храма Конкордии.

Самое известное описание принадлежит Гаю Саллюстио Криспо в De Catilinae contiuratione. В своем отчете о заключении в тюрьму и казни бывшего консула Лентуло, Четего, Статилиона, Габинио и Чепарио историк дает краткое и точное описание этого места, все еще актуальное для этого места в том виде, в каком оно появилось.

«В тюрьме есть место под названием Туллиано, немного левее, уходящее наверх, уходящее под землю примерно на 12 футов. Он закрыт со всех сторон прочными стенами, а над ним — перекрытием, состоящим из каменного свода. Вид его отталкивающий и пугающий из-за состояния заброшенности, темноты, смрада».

«Est in carcere locus, quod Tullianum appellatur, ubi paululum ascenderis ad laevam, circiter duodecim pedes humi depressus. Eum muniunt undique parietes atque insuper camera lapideis fornicibus iuncta; sed incultu, tenebris, odore foeda atque terribilis eius facies est"


Other descriptions can be found in:
Calpurnius Flaccus, Declamations;
Plutarch, Life of Marius, 12;
Valerio Massimo, Book of Memorable Facts and Sayings 9, 12, 6: The sharp and courageous end of the life of Hereni Siculus, whom C. Gracchus had used both as a bully and a friend; He collapsed in the doorway and breathed his last, one step further from public execution and the executioner's hand;
Titus Livius, Ab Urbe condita 1, 33, 8: With the great increase of affairs, when in such a large number of people, confused by the right or wrong of the decision, clandestine crimes were committed, a prison is built in the middle of the city, threatening the market, to the terror of the growing audacity.



The ancient level is accessed via a flight of stairs. The current façade, in ashlar blocks of travertine, dates back to the beginning of the imperial age and has a frame (partially original) with the engraved names of the consuls Rufinio and Nerva. This facade covers an older one, built in tuff blocks from Grotta Oscura.

From an opening perhaps made in modern times, one enters a trapezoidal room covered by a barrel vault, made in square work with large blocks of Monteverde and red Aniene tuff, which is therefore datable to the 2nd century BC, when these quarries were in use. The original entrance had to be through the walled door placed at the highest level of the current floor, in the right wall. This door also gave access to the lautumiae, rooms obtained from the ancient tuff quarries also used as a prison.

A hole in the floor, now closed by a grate, was the only external access to the underlying environment, now reachable via a recent staircase. The lower part was called Tullianum and was the most secret and terrible one. However, on the east wall of the Tullianum there is an iron portal that leads to other rooms, still little explored.

The Tullianum is a semicircular-shaped room (except for a segment to the east) made in square work with blocks of peperino without cement. The dimensions of the masonry have suggested that originally it must have been a monumental fountain built around a cistern (tullus), where the water naturally filters today. According to Filippo Coarelli, however, it is more likely that from the beginning the room was used as a prison. Here, therefore, the condemned to death prisoners of the people and of the Roman state were thrown and detained. The detention could be both short - because the execution took place immediately after the great Roman procession of triumph, as in the case of Jugurta, and long - as happened to Vercingetorix, who spent six years in the Tullianum before being beheaded.

Illustrious prisoners
There are many famous people who have been locked up here and lost their lives there by strangulation or beheading (however Plutarch claims that Giugurta died of starvation).

Erennium Siculus: friend of Gaius Sempronius Gracchus in 123 BC
Gaius Sempronius Gracchus in 121 BC
Jugurta: king of Numidia in 104 BC According to the sources, he showed his courage to the executioners by joking, saying: "How cold is this bath of yours, Romans!"
Lentulus and Cetego: companions of Catiline in 63 BC
Vercingetorix: king of the Gauls in 46 BC
Sejanus (and his sons): prefect of the praetorium of Tiberius in 31 AD.
Simone di Giora: defender of Jerusalem (in 71 AD).
according to the Christian tradition, the apostles Peter and Paul.

Tradition of Saints Peter and Paul
Christian hagiography made the lower cell, made accessible by a very narrow staircase, and the water source the place where the apostles Peter and Paul, imprisoned there, are said to have baptized Christian converts who were cell mates.

Tradition allowed the preservation of the prison which was transformed into a church (San Pietro in prison) and a place of pilgrimage in 314 at the behest of Pope Sylvester I.

Legend also has it that St. Peter, descending into the Tullianum, fell by beating his head against the wall, thus leaving his own imprint in the stone (since 1720 protected by a grate). Locked up in the dungeon, together with other followers, the two apostles miraculously made a spring of water spring up and they were able to convert and baptize the prison guards, Process and Martiniano, martyrs themselves. In any case, the two apostles were not executed in the vicinity because St. Peter was led to the Vatican hill and San Paolo alle Acque Salvie (the present Abbey of the Tre Fontane).