London Mithraeum is a really interesting find in London. It’s free, close to the Bank tube station, but not one visitors usually go to. While popular, I imagine most of the visitors are Londoners. It is an old Roman temple, dedicated to Mithras. It was discovered in the 1950s and now is beneath Bloomberg’s European headquarters.
It’s really nicely presented and very interesting, so do make sure you are seeing it if you have an hour to spare while in central London.
The museum has a nicely showcased display in the first room. When we visited most people spent a bit of time admiring the artefacts and reading about them. With an interesting mix of brooches, pots, jewellery, coins, and lots of other types of items, it has something to catch one’s eye. I liked the shoes, of which one was quite unusual and a significant find. Also, the buckles were just stunning. I always like to see those. The writing tablet and stylus were also lovely to see.
Next step was to go underneath, to the temple. There are viewings at 20 minutes intervals, so there is a bit of waiting time, which is great as there are some interactive displays with all sorts of details about Mithras. This temple was made around 200 CE. In 1954 the place was discovered and there was wide public interest for it.
The museum guide told us a bit about the temple before an artistic interpretation of how the temple might have sounded for the ones worshipping there. This is the part I had to disagree with my husband. He liked the visual effects, the recreation of the walls with light, the darker parts where the columns would have been. I was focused on the chanting, which I don’t think was realistic. Chanting in Latin should sound more like a Catholic sermon, with the proper tonality. It was not, there was some Latin followed by some laughter. This was a temple, not a cafe, so it should have sounded appropriately. Anyway, it’s interesting, but keep in mind that the chanting is a bit too theatrical, thus most likely less historically accurate.
London Mithraeum is on 12 Walbrook, London, EC4N 8AA. Open 6 days a week and free, it would be a shame to miss it.