MOUTH OF TRUTH, Square

Audio File length: 2.32
Author: STEFANO ZUFFI E DAVIDE TORTORELLA
English / USA Language: English / USA

Hi, I'm Ed, your personal guide. Together with MyWoWo, I'd like to welcome you to one of the wonders of the world.

Today I'll accompany you through Piazza della Bocca della Verità.

The Mouth of Truth is one of the most "magical" places in Rome!

The lively square you're standing in with the Baroque fountain at its center is where the ancient "Foro Boario" was once held, which was the cattle market in Rome. You are a short distance from Circus Maximus, and almost on the banks of the Tiber River in front of Tiberina Island, in an area that was an excellent commercial point and full of important remains from ancient Rome. I want to tell you about two small, well-preserved temples dating back to the Republican age, between 200 and 100 BC.

The first is the rectangular-shaped Temple of Portuno, dedicated to the god who protected calls at ports of rivers. It is a simple, elegant building that stands on a platform with steps. The triangular pediment is supported by four grooved columns that, as you can deduce from the curled capitals, are of ionic order. This temple, like other monuments here in Rome, has been preserved thanks to the fact that in the early Middle Ages it was transformed into a Christian church.

 

Now pause the audio guide and go to the Temple of Hercules Victor.

 

You can see its circular form and how it's surrounded by twenty slender columns: this is the oldest Roman marble building in existence. The last section of the Cloaca Maxima once ran just below you: it was the great canal that served as a sewer but also as drainage for the waters that penetrated Palatine Hill, and you can still see the arch it poured out of into the Tiber River.

A short distance from here, going towards the church of San Giorgio in Velabro, you'll see the Arch of Janus, an open, four-sided arcade built in the fourth century AD, and beyond that the Arcus Argentariorum, where the currency exchange shops were located.

 

FUN FACT: they say that there's a treasure hidden below the Arcus Argentariorum. In the 1400s an odd character was given permission to carry out excavations at the foot of the arch, and then disappeared into the tunnel he had dug. Nobody knows if he was swallowed up by the earth, or if perhaps he found the treasure and fled with the booty.

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