Discovering Roman London

Experience Roman London at the recreated The Temple of Mithras at the The London Mithraeum

Descending down the stairs the hustle and bustle of the City of London became a distance hum in the background. Entering the long windowless room, dark except from the beam of a flashlight, the years rolled back to AD410… 

The clang of a door being opened, the faint sound of footsteps, chants and whispers getting louder and louder. Through the haze seven columns separate the nave from the aisles. A raised platform at the end displays a representation of Mithras killing a bull.

The noise reaches a crescendo. The ritual complete. The chanting and footsteps move away, getting fainter and fainter until the door slams shut…

London Mithraeum Bloomberg Space

Having worked in the City of London I suspect most people have no idea that one of the UK’s most significant archaeological sites is right under their feet. Just a few minutes from Bank, and in the middle of Bloomberg’s European HQ.

The London Mithraeum Bloomberg Space recreates the Temple of Mithras on its original site and offers an immersive experience of what it would have been like in Roman times. Artefacts found during the excavation works are also on display giving you an insight into the lives of the first Londoners.

The Temple of Mithras

Discovered in the ruins of a bomb site in 1952-54, the Temple of Mithras is a roman temple dedicated to the god Mithras. After being discovered, it captured the imagination of many Londoners so it was put on public display down the road. However, it has now been returned to its original site, over the course of the Walbrook river which runs deep beneath the city.

Archaeological drawings, models, photos and news footage were all used to help a team of experts reconstruct the temple. Now part of an exhibition space, it is almost in the exact spot it was discovered. Seven meters below ground level. It is slightly west (4 meters or so) of its original position as amazingly more remains of the temple were found during the work. Sadly they are too fragile to be displayed and have been carefully preserved.

The Temple of Mithras at the London Mithraeum Bloomberg Space
Looking up the nave to the display of Mithras slaying a bull

As well as the reconstructed temple there are many of the artefacts discovered during the excavation displayed. Including my favourite, a tablet. It was on one of these that the earliest written documents from Britain were found. At least they didn’t have to worry about running out of battery! 

A Roman Tablet...

Heading back up the stairs and out into the late afternoon sunshine, the city folk of London go about their business as normal. All seemingly unaware of the ancient secrets hidden just below their feet.

Want to visit? Here’s what you need to know…

If you have an hour to two spare then The London Mithraeum is well worth a visit. Access to the temple and immersive experience is every 20 minutes. While waiting to enter there are some interactive screens you can scroll through to find out more about the temple and the cult of Mithras. So you’ll want to build in some time for that and to view the artefacts that are on display.

12 Walbrook, London, EC4N 8AA
Opening Times: Monday – Saturday: 10.00 – 16.00
Sunday: 12.00 – 17.00
Closed Monday
Tube: Nearest tubes are Bank or St Paul’s (both on the Central Line) or Mansion House (Circle/District)

Train: Cannon Street, Liverpool Street, London Bridge and
Blackfriars are all within walking distance.

2 thoughts on “Discovering Roman London

  1. Toby Edmonds says:

    I was in London and Kent this weekend to visit family and I made the Mithraeum my first stop when I got into London on Saturday morning – what an amazing place to visit! I enjoyed it as much as visiting the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul 🙂 I then ended my weekend with a trip up to the Sky Garden to enjoy the view and a glass of wine, partly in homage to the La Vue Bar in the Concorde Lafayette Hotel in Paris (Now the Windo Bar in the Hyatt!) 😉
    I wouldn’t have known about either the Mithraeum or the Sky Garden if you hadn’t blogged about them, so it keep it coming Jones – this stuff is great 🙂

  2. Jenny in Neverland says:

    Wow! I never had a clue this was in London! I live 20 mins away from the city and although I hate it there and actively try and not go I think this would definitely be an interesting thing to go and see. I love history and find this stuff fascinating!

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