Carcere Mamertino
Mamertine Prison

For reservation :

Cooperativa soc IL SOGNO arl
Viale Regina Margherita, 192 - 00198 ROMA
Tel. 06/ - Fax 06/

Email :
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The Mamertine Prison (also referred to as the Tullianum) was a prison (carcer) located in the Forum Romanum in Ancient Rome. It was located on the north-east slope of the Capitoline Hill, facing the Curia and the imperial fora of Nerva, Vespasian, and Augustus. Located between it and the Tabularium (record house) was a flight of stairs leading to the Arx of the Capitoline known as the Gemonian stairs.

The origins of the prison's names are uncertain. The traditional derivation of "Tullianum" is from the name of one of the Roman kings Tullus Hostilius or Servius Tullius (the latter is found in Livy, Varro, and also Sallust); there is an alternative theory that it is from the archaic Latin tullius "a jet of water", in reference to the cistern. The name "Mamertine" is medieval in origin, and may be a reference to a nearby temple of Mars, or to the legend of St. Peter, whom tradition holds to have been imprisoned there before his martyrdom: the legend states that Saints Martinian and Processus, supposedly his warders, were converted and baptised by Peter before being martyred themselves.

The entrance to the prison records the tradition that it is the place where Saint Peter and Saint Paul were imprisoned. The Prison was constructed around the time of the First Sack of Rome by Gauls, about 386 BC. It was originally created as a cistern for a spring in the floor of the second lower level (there were two, the lower of which was where prisoners were kept by lowering them through the floor of the upper room), but eventually a passage between the cistern drain and the Cloaca Maxima was constructed, reputedly for flushing out dead bodies.

Typically, only higher profile prisoners were kept in the prison; usually foreign commanders who were defeated and became the centrepiece in a Roman triumphant procession. They usually remained incarcerated until they were paraded and strangled in public, unless they happened to die of natural causes first (Roman law did not recognise imprisonment itself as punishment).

It is not known when the prison went out of service permanently, but the site has been used for Christian worship since medieval times, and is currently occupied by two superimposed churches: S. Giuseppe dei Falegnami (upper) and S. Pietro in Carcere (lower). The Cross on the altar in the lower chapel is upside down, since according to tradition Saint Peter was crucified upside down.

A tablet on the site lists a number of historical and religious figures who are associated with it Persons held in the Tullianum:

  • Jugurtha
  • Vercingetorix
  • Publius Cornelius Lentulus Sura

And according to tradition:

  • Saint Peter
  • Paul of Tarsus
  • Sixtus II

Significance in Christianity
While the prison's association with Saint Peter is a matter of legend rather than reliable historical fact, being first documented in 6th-century texts, it is nonetheless a significant religious site. According to tradition, it was visited by Saint Philip, Saint Ignatius, Saint Theresa of Liseux, and Saint Benedict.

The Tullianum - the original name of the oldest prison in Rome - is the place where according to tradition, the Apostles Peter and Paul lived their last days before their martyrdom.
It was a maximum security prison for enemies of Rome awaiting execution.

Situated at the foot of the Capitol Hill and in front of the Roman Forum, it was a clear symbol of the implacable justice of Rome.

For this reason Peter and Paul, major figures of the Christian community, were brought to this prison.
The site, preserved over the centuries by Christian piety, no longer strikes fear into those who visit, instead gives a sense of profound peace.

Please note that in order to gain access it is sufficient to show your pass to the Roma Cristiana staff present at the Roma Cristiana Meeting Point in the St. Peter's Prison (O.R.P. Roma Cristiana Meeting Point in the St. Peter's Prison – Clivio Argentario, 1)

€ 12,00 (Agency fees included)
Free under 6
Free disabled people

60 minutes

Italian, English, French, Spanish

For each time slot Maximum 15 people, the number is due to the peculiarity of the tour.

Morning: 9.00am - 9.30am - 10.00am - 10.30am - 11.00am - 11.30am - 12.00am
Afternoon: 2.00pm - 2.30pm - 3.00pm - 3.30pm - 4.00pm


For reservation :

Cooperativa soc IL SOGNO arl
Viale Regina Margherita, 192 - 00198 ROMA
Tel. 06/ - Fax 06/

Email :