Mamertine Prison | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Mamertine Prison

Rome, Lazio, Italy

Lucy Davidson

08 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Mamertine Prison

The Mamertine Prison in Rome, also known as Carcere Mamertino, is an ancient prison thought to date back to perhaps as early as the seventh century BC. The Romans continued using the Mamertine Prison throughout the Republican and Imperial eras as late as the fourth century AD, with executions also taking place there.

History of Mamertine Prison

The prison was in use until the 4th century, and in the 16th century, the church of San Giuseppe dei Falegnami was built on top of the Mamertine prison.

Christian legend says that the Mamertine Prison was the site where Saints Peter and Paul were incarcerated. According to these accounts, Peter managed to create a spring in his cell, allowing him to perform baptisms on his cellmates and guards.

Originally, the complex was much larger. Today, only two cells and part of the façade remain. The cell consisted of the upper (Carcer) and lower (Tullianum) sections. The Tullianum was connected to the Carcer with a hole, and the Tullianum was used as a death row. The bodies would later be transported via the Tiber River.

Mamertine Prison Today

Today, the remains of the Mamertine Prison are found under the church of San Giuseppe dei Falegnami near the Roman Forum. Dark and dank, the dungeons are accessed via a winding staircase. Though the attraction is slight, the prison offers a glimpse into the horrors experienced by criminals of Ancient Rome.

It is also worth noting that, near the Mamertine Prison (some say right next to it) would have been the location of the Gemonian Stairs, also notorious as a site of executions in Ancient Rome.

Getting to Mamertine Prison 

The Mamertine prison is a one minute walk from the Roman Forum via the Via dell’Arco di Settimio. From the centre of Rome, they are a 10 minute drive via Via del Teatro di Marcello, or a scenic 21 minute walk through the city centre via Via Nazionale.

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