Audio File length: 2.39
English / USA Language: English / USA

Look up to admire the beautiful bell tower that belongs to the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin and was built around the year 1100 in bricks and "boulders", that is, material obtained from ancient monuments. Take in its lively structure with blind arches and windows of various sizes, with its floors separated by elegant decorative bands.

The church is dedicated to the Madonna and stands on Roman foundations; it is close to the picturesque home of the Crescenzi family. If you're wondering what the strange "Cosmedin" name means, it has a very curious origin: in the early Middle Ages the church was entrusted to a community of Greeks who in their language called it "Kosmidion", which means "adorned". In fact, as you'll soon see, the church is full of frescoes, marble, and antique finds.

The church's original primitive appearance was restored at the end of the nineteenth century when its Baroque additions were removed and its medieval parts and a large amount of its architecture and decoration were brought to light.

To the left of the portico in front of the façade, you'll probably see a line of people standing before a point in the wall. Go stand in line too, and you'll be able to see the famous Mouth of Truth that gave the square its name and is its main tourist attraction. As you can see, it's a large, circular, Roman bas-relief dating back to the second century AD, with a bearded face with long, wavy hair. It was originally a drain cover, but popular imagination has built a legend around it: anyone who wants to prove that they tell the truth has to put their hand in the bas-relief's mouth. He will bite or even swallow the hands of liars! Do you want to try too?

If you've passed the test and your hands are still intact, then go ahead and enter the church. Inside you'll notice a typical element of Romanesque architecture: the alternation of pillars and columns, which however have no supporting function here. Admire the beautiful marble floor with inlays, which is almost entirely antique, and the transenna surrounding the main altar, which is covered by a Gothic marble baldachin from the 13th century.


FUN FACT: in the movie Roman Holiday, Gregory Peck shows the Mouth of Truth to Audrey Hepburn and puts his hand in it, pretending that it has been eaten!

And with this we have finished our tour of Piazza della Bocca della Verità. MyWoWo thanks you for staying with us, and will see you at the next Wonder of the World!

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