A mithraeum found in the ruins of Ostia Antica, Italy
How a modern history theme park imagines a mithraeum: Museum Orientalis in the Netherlands
Finds from a mithraeum in Stockstadt, Germany
A mithraeum found in the German city of Saarbrücken

A Mithraeum is a place of worship for the followers of the mystery religion 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 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





  • In the city of Rome:
    • Mithraeum of the Circus Maximus. Remains open by appointment.
    • Barberini 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. Remains open by appointment.
    • Castra Peregrinorum mithraeum, under the church of Santo Stefano Rotondo. Remains open by appointment.
    • Mithraeum under the Santa Prisca basilica. Remains open by appointment.
    • Mithraeum - Santa Maria Capua Vetere


  • A reconstructed Mithraeum in the Brukenthal Museum's Lapidarium, with some of the items unearthed at Apulum (Alba Iulia).



  • Martigny (ancient Octodurus) - a reconstructed Mithraeum [2]


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

United Kingdom

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Mithraeum — d Ostie. Un mithraeum est un sanctuaire du culte de Mithra, un culte d origine orientale qui connaît une grande diffusion dans l Empire romain au IIe siècle, et voit se multiplier ce type d édifices dans toutes les provinces,… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • mithraeum — ● mithraeum, mithraea ou mithraeums nom masculin (mot. latin) Sanctuaire souterrain, crypte ou grotte, consacré au culte du dieu Mithra …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Mithraeum — Mithräum aus dem dritten Jahrhundert in der Nähe von Fertőrákos (Ungarn) Mithräum von Santa Maria Capua Vetere bei Neapel …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Mithraeum — /mi three euhm/, n., pl. Mithraea /mi three euh/, Mithraeums. a temple of Mithras. [1875 80; < NL < Gk Mithraîon, equiv. to Míthr(as) MITHRAS + aion suffix of place] * * * …   Universalium

  • Mithraeum — n. temple designated for the god Mithras …   English contemporary dictionary

  • mithraeum — mith·rae·um …   English syllables

  • mithraeum — …   Useful english dictionary

  • Mithraeum de Doura Europos — Plan de Doura Europos. Le mithraeum occupe une partie de l îlot J5. Le mithraeum de Doura Europos est un sanctuaire mithriaque situé dans l îlot J5 de la ville parthe et romaine de Doura Europos, sur l Euphrate en Syrie orientale. L édifice fut… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Aquincum Mithraeum (of Victorinus) — Coordinates: 47°33′50″N 19°03′01″E / 47.563798°N 19.050239°E / 47.563798; 19.050239 …   Wikipedia

  • Duino Mithraeum — Central dedication stone, depicting the tauroctony. The Duino Mithraeum is a Mithraeum located near Duino, in the province of Trieste, north eastern Italy. Mithraea were places of worship for the followers of the Roman mystery religion known as… …   Wikipedia

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