Mouth of Truth
Piazza della Bocca della Verità, 18, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
|⏰ Opening Hours
9:30 AM - 5:45 PM
|💸 Entrance Fee
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What is the Mouth of Truth?
The Mouth of Truth, or Bocca della Verità in Italian, is an iconic ancient carving that draws curious visitors from all over the world to the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome. The legend surrounding this massive marble mask is as captivating as its enigmatic expression; it's said that if one were to tell a lie with their hand placed in its open mouth, the Mouth would bite it off. The Mouth of Truth is not just an intriguing tourist attraction—it's become a beloved symbol of Roman folklore, its origins shrouded in mystery, enticing visitors to test their honesty.
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History of the Mouth of Truth
The Mouth of Truth's past is steeped in legend, but its true story is equally fascinating. It is believed to date back to the 1st century AD and may have originally served as a drain cover in the nearby ancient Roman temple of Hercules Invictus. Over time, it was repurposed and relocated to its current setting beside the portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin around the 17th century. This artifact has captured imaginations for centuries, leaving many to ponder its original use and the emergence of the myth that it can discern truth from deceit.
The motif of the face itself is subject to debate among scholars. Some suggest it may represent a pagan god, while others believe it could be a depiction of a river deity, given its former function related to water. Whatever its origins, the Mouth of Truth solidified its place in popular culture with a memorable appearance in the 1953 film "Roman Holiday," where Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck brought it even greater fame.
Why is the Mouth of Truth Important?
The Mouth of Truth holds importance for various reasons. It is a connection to the ancient world, offering glimpses into Roman society and religious practices. For art historians, it is an example of Roman sculpture that has influenced cultural heritage. It is not merely a relic of the past; the Mouth of Truth continues to engage the public's imagination, embodying the timeless human fascinations with myths, superstitions, and the eternal quest for truth.
Moreover, it is a vital component of Rome's identity, standing as a testament to the city's layers of history and its ability to inspire storytelling. Its importance is magnified by the thousands of visitors it draws, adding to the cultural and economic fabric of modern Rome. And let’s not forget, it provides an unbeatable photo opportunity bound to intrigue friends and family—not every day does one get a chance to literally "put their hand in the mouth of history."
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Things to Do & See at the Mouth of Truth
Visiting the Mouth of Truth, one does not simply walk up to the stone face; they partake in a moment of history and legend. Venture into the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin to explore its beautiful interior and Byzantine mosaics—this often-overlooked gem deserves attention in its own right. After your truth-testing encounter, be sure to wander around the area: the Tempio di Ercole Vincitore and the Forum Boarium, Rome's ancient cattle market, are mere steps away and echo with echoes of the city's storied past.
For those keen on exploring the surroundings, the nearby Tiber Island, with its charming atmosphere and important medical history, is linked to the mainland by Rome's oldest remaining bridge, the Ponte Fabricio. The ancient ruins of the Circus Maximus, once a venue for thrilling chariot races, are also within walking distance and offer a sense of Rome's grand scale. In truth, surrounding the Mouth of Truth, the very fabric of old Rome weaves a rich tapestry that invites exploration and discovery.