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Mamertine Prison

Known in antiquity as the Tullianum, the dungeons were used to hold Saint Paul before he was beheaded.

TravelCurious Tip

This place can be a little tricky to find. It is small, and be aware that the sign simply reads “Mamertinum”

Mamertine Prison was originally built in 500-600BC and known as Tullianum. To begin with it was, in fact, not a prison at all, but an ancient cistern. It was later converted into a jail with two cells, one on top of the other. The entrance to the lower cell was a small door in the floor of the upper cell. The cells were dank dungeons where inmates rarely stayed long before they were executed.


Long-term incarceration was not really in vogue in the Roman Empire — execution or public humiliation was more de rigeur. There is some evidence that the captured foreign rulers or generals who were paraded during a Roman conqueror’s triumph were held and then executed later in the Mamertine Prison. These men may have included the Samnite Gaius Pontius, the Gaul Vercingetorix, and Jugurtha, King of Numidia.


The Mamertine Prison came to take on great significance for the Christians when it was believed that St. Peter had been imprisoned at the Tullianum, and that the spring at the bottom of the pit appeared miraculously to enable him to conduct baptisms. However, the spring existed before the prison, and there is really no evidence of his imprisonment here. They still built two churches on the site though, just in case.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Rome
Roman Forum
The political, religious and civic heart of ancient Rome.
Capitoline Museums
Yet another stunning museum of ancient art, in two Michelangelo-designed palaces.
Capitoline Hill
The ceremonial centre of ancient Rome, rejuvenated by Michelangelo in the Renaissance and offering amazing views over the Forum.
The Forum of Augustus and the Forum of Nerva
Two of Rome's finest Imperial Forums.
Trajan's Forum and Column
One of the more impressive Forums in the area, with a beautiful triumphal column.
Basilica of Santi Cosma e Damiano
An early Christian church in a converted Temple of Romulus, with some mosaic masterworks inside.

Related Tours

Private ChurchTour: In The Footsteps of St Paul
On this three hour tour, your expert local guide will take you through the story and sites of St Paul’s martyrdom.On your private tour, you will:

  • Learn about Rome during the time of St Paul - from the emperor to the living conditions of locals, and the persecution of Christians.
  • Explore the Mamertine Prison (Tullianum) where St Paul was imprisoned before his death.
  • See the Abbey of the Three Fountains where St Paul was supposedly killed.
  • See the Basilica of St. Paul a church built over the burial place of Saint Paul.
St Paul is one of the most important Christian preachers and one of the religion’s most dramatic martyrs. He lived in an age of religious persecution in the days of the Roman Emperor Nero. Nero was renowned for being a brutal ruler, killing many of the early Christians, who subsequently became martyrs. On your private tour, you will be able to step back in time, in the context of Paul's letters to the Romans and uncover the historical context under which his words were penned. 
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