A Mithraeum is a place of worship for the followers of the mystery religion
Greco-Roman mysteries
Mystery religions, sacred Mysteries or simply mysteries, were religious cults of the Greco-Roman world, participation in which was reserved to initiates....

 of Mithraism.

The Mithraeum was either an adapted natural cave or cavern or an artificial building imitating a cavern. Mithraea were dark and windowless, even if they were not actually in a subterranean space or in a natural cave. When possible, the mithraeum was constructed within or below an existing building. The site of a mithraeum may also be identified by its separate entrance or vestibule, its "cave", called the spelaeum or spelunca, with raised benches along the side walls for the ritual meal, and its sanctuary at the far end, often in a recess, before which the pedestal-like altar stood. Many mithraea that follow this basic plan are scattered over much of the

Roman Empire's
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 former area, particularly where the legions were stationed along the frontiers (such as Britain). Others may be recognized by their characteristic layout, even though converted as crypts beneath Christian churches.

From the structure of the mithraea it is possible to surmise that worshippers would have gathered for a common meal along the reclining couches lining the walls. Most temples could hold only thirty or forty individuals.

The mithraeum itself was arranged as an "image of the universe". It is noticed by some researchers that this movement, especially in the context of mithraic iconography (see below), seems to stem from the neoplatonic concept that the "running" of the sun from solstice to solstice is a parallel for the movement of the soul through the universe, from pre-existence, into the body, and then beyond the physical body into an afterlife.

Notable mithraea

  • Angers
    Angers is the main city in the Maine-et-Loire department in western France about south-west of Paris. Angers is located in the French region known by its pre-revolutionary, provincial name, Anjou, and its inhabitants are called Angevins....

  • Biesheim
    Biesheim is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.-References:*...

  • Mackwiller
    Mackwiller is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.- Archaeology :In 1955, substantial fragments of a large Mithraeum were unearthed in Mackwiller by Jean-Jacques Hatt, archaeologist and director of the Musée archéologique de Strasbourg. The find is still...

  • Sarrebourg
    Sarrebourg is a commune in the Moselle department in Lorraine in north-eastern France. It lies in on the upper course of the river Sarre.It should not be confused with Saarburg in Germany....

  • Strasbourg
    Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. The city and the region of Alsace are historically German-speaking,...

     (district of Kœnigshoffen)

  • Dieburg
    Dieburg is a town in southern Hessen, Germany. It was formerly the seat of the district of Dieburg, but is now part of the district of Darmstadt-Dieburg.-History:...

    Darmstadt is a city in the Bundesland of Hesse in Germany, located in the southern part of the Rhine Main Area.The sandy soils in the Darmstadt area, ill-suited for agriculture in times before industrial fertilisation, prevented any larger settlement from developing, until the city became the seat...

  • Frankfurt
    Frankfurt am Main , commonly known simply as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2010 population of 688,249. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,300,000 in 2010...

  • Freiburg im Breisgau, mithraeum relics from Riegel displayed in Freiburg museum
  • Gimmeldingen
    Gimmeldingen is a village of 2636 inhabitants and part of the city of Neustadt an der Weinstraße in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.It is a well-known wine-producing region, source of the Gimmeldinger Meerspinne....

    , Mithras-Heiligtum Gimmeldingen Sehenswertes (German language)
  • Güglingen
    Güglingen is a town in the district of Heilbronn in Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. It is situated 18 km southwest of Heilbronn.-Geography:Güglingen is situated in a valley called Zabergäu in the southwest district of Heilbronn....

  • Hanau
    Hanau is a town in the Main-Kinzig-Kreis, in Hesse, Germany. It is located 25 km east of Frankfurt am Main. Its station is a major railway junction.- Geography :...

  • Heidelberg
    -Early history:Between 600,000 and 200,000 years ago, "Heidelberg Man" died at nearby Mauer. His jaw bone was discovered in 1907; with scientific dating, his remains were determined to be the earliest evidence of human life in Europe. In the 5th century BC, a Celtic fortress of refuge and place of...

    , Kurpfälzisches Museum
    Kurpfälzisches Museum
    The Kurpfälzisches Museum is a museum of art and archaeology in Heidelberg, Germany. It is located in the Palais Morass. It was founded in the late 1870s, when the city of Heidelberg purchased the private collection of the artist and art historian Charles de...

  • Köln
    KOLN, digital channel 10, is the CBS affiliate in Lincoln, Nebraska. It operates a satellite station, KGIN, on digital channel 11 in Grand Island. KGIN repeats all KOLN programming, but airs separate commercials...

  • Königsbrunn
    Königsbrunn is a municipality and the largest town in the district of Augsburg, in Bavaria, Germany. It is situated on the left bank of the Lech, approx. 10 km south of Augsburg.-History:Königsbrunn is one of the youngest settlements in Bavaria...

     (near Augsburg
    Augsburg is a city in the south-west of Bavaria, Germany. It is a university town and home of the Regierungsbezirk Schwaben and the Bezirk Schwaben. Augsburg is an urban district and home to the institutions of the Landkreis Augsburg. It is, as of 2008, the third-largest city in Bavaria with a...

  • Mainz
    Mainz under the Holy Roman Empire, and previously was a Roman fort city which commanded the west bank of the Rhine and formed part of the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire...

    , Consecration Altars of the Mithraeum Mogontiacum
  • Neuss
    Neuss is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located on the west bank of the Rhine opposite Düsseldorf. Neuss is the largest city within the Rhein-Kreis Neuss district and owes its prosperity to its location at the crossing of historic and modern trade routes. It is primarily known...

     (Legionslager Castra Novaesia)
  • Osterburken
    Osterburken is a town in the Neckar-Odenwald district, in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is situated 28 km southwest of Tauberbischofsheim, 50 km northeast of Heilbronn, 90 km east of Heidelberg, 60 km southwest of Würzburg and 30 km east of Mosbach...

  • Riegel am Kaiserstuhl
    Riegel am Kaiserstuhl
    Riegel am Kaiserstuhl is a German municipality in the district of Emmendingen in Baden-Württemberg. It is accessed by the motorway A5 .-Education:... (near Freiburg im Breisgau)
  • Saalburg
    The Saalburg is a Roman fort located on the Taunus ridge northwest of Bad Homburg, Hesse, Germany. It is a Cohort Fort belonging to the Limes Germanicus, the Roman linear border fortification of the German provinces. The Saalburg, located just off the main road roughly halfway between Bad Homburg...

  • Saarbrücken
    Saarbrücken is the capital of the state of Saarland in Germany. The city is situated at the heart of a metropolitan area that borders on the west on Dillingen and to the north-east on Neunkirchen, where most of the people of the Saarland live....

  • Schwarzerden
    Schwarzerden is a municipality in the district of Bad Kreuznach in Rhineland-Palatinate, in western Germany....

  • Wiesloch
    Wiesloch is a city in Germany, in northern Baden-Württemberg. It is situated 13 kilometres south of Heidelberg.After Weinheim, Sinsheim and Leimen it is the fourth largest city of the Rhein-Neckar-Kreis and is in the north-central area near Heidelberg with its neighbouring town Walldorf...

  • Aquincum Mithraeum (of Victorinus)
    Aquincum Mithraeum (of Victorinus)
    The Aquincum Mithraeum is a temple to the Roman god Mithras near Budapest in Hungary. The temple was built within a townhouse in the Roman city of Aquincum, on the outskirts of the modern city of Budapest, Hungary....

    . Remains open within Aquincum Archaeological Park.
  • Savaria Mithraeum
    Savaria Mithraeum
    Savaria Mithraeum was the shrine of Mithras in the Roman town of Savaria which was discovered in 2008.-History:The cult of Mithras was popular in the Roman province of Pannonia...

  • Fertorakos Mithraeum
    Fertorakos mithraeum
    The Fertorakos Mithraeum is a temple to the Roman god Mithras at Fertőrákos in Hungary. The temple , follows a typical plan of a narthex followed by the shrine proper that consists of a sunken central nave with podium benches on either side.- Discovery :It was discovered by chance by a stonemason...


  • In the city of Rome
    Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

    • Mithraeum of the Circus Maximus
      Circus Maximus
      The Circus Maximus is an ancient Roman chariot racing stadium and mass entertainment venue located in Rome, Italy. Situated in the valley between the Aventine and Palatine hills, it was the first and largest stadium in ancient Rome and its later Empire...

      . Remains open by appointment.
    • Barberini
      The Barberini are a family of the Italian nobility that rose to prominence in 17th century Rome. Their influence peaked with the election of Cardinal Maffeo Barberini to the papal throne in 1623, as Pope Urban VIII...

       Mithraeum. remains open by appointment.
    • Mithraeum of San Clemente, under the basilica of San Clemente. Remains visible in archaeological museum.
    • Mithraeum of the Baths of Caracalla
      Baths of Caracalla
      The Baths of Caracalla in Rome, Italy were Roman public baths, or thermae, built in Rome between AD 212 and 216, during the reign of the Emperor Caracalla.- History :...

      . Remains open by appointment.
    • Castra Peregrinorum mithraeum, under the church of Santo Stefano Rotondo
      Santo Stefano Rotondo
      The Basilica of St. Stephen in the Round on the Celian Hill is an ancient basilica and titular church in Rome, Italy. Commonly named Santo Stefano Rotondo, the church is the National church in Rome of Hungary dedicated to Saint Stephen and Saint Stephen of Hungary...

      . Remains open by appointment.
    • Mithraeum under the Santa Prisca
      Santa Prisca
      Santa Prisca is a basilica church in Rome, devoted to Saint Prisca, a 1st century martyr, on the Aventine hill. It was built in the 4th or 5th century over a temple of Mithras, and is recorded as the Titulus Priscae in the acts of the 499 synod....

       basilica. Remains open by appointment.
    • Mithraeum - Santa Maria Capua Vetere
      Santa Maria Capua Vetere
      -External links:*...

  • A reconstructed Mithraeum in the Brukenthal Museum's Lapidarium, with some of the items unearthed at Apulum (Alba Iulia
    Alba Iulia
    Alba Iulia is a city in Alba County, Transylvania, Romania with a population of 66,747, located on the Mureş River. Since the High Middle Ages, the city has been the seat of Transylvania's Roman Catholic diocese. Between 1541 and 1690 it was the capital of the Principality of Transylvania...


  • Roman Ville of Fuente Álamo's Mithraeum (Puente Genil
    Puente Genil
    Puente Genil is a village in the Spanish province of Córdoba, situated about 45 miles from the city of Córdoba. It has a population of 30,033 ....



  • Duro-Europos - Transported to and rebuilt at Yale University's Gallery of Fine Arts.

United Kingdom
  • Caernarfon Mithraeum
    Caernarfon Mithraeum
    The Caernarfon Mithraeum is a Roman Temple to the Roman god Mithras . The temple was located 137 metres north-east of the Roman castra of Segontium on the outskirts of modern Caernarfon in Gwynedd, Wales....

    , Wales.
  • Carrawburgh
    Carrawburgh is a settlement in Northumberland. In Roman times, it was the site of a 3½ acre auxiliary fort on Hadrian's Wall called Brocolitia, Procolita, or Brocolita This name is probably based on the Celtic name for the place, and one possible translation put forward is 'badger holes'...

    , Hadrian's Wall
    Hadrian's Wall
    Hadrian's Wall was a defensive fortification in Roman Britain. Begun in AD 122, during the rule of emperor Hadrian, it was the first of two fortifications built across Great Britain, the second being the Antonine Wall, lesser known of the two because its physical remains are less evident today.The...

    , England. Remains open.
  • London Mithraeum, England. Remains open.

External links

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