The square

Square Mouth of Truth is a square located between Via Febo and Via della Greca, in Rome, in the district Ripa.

The square stands on the area once known as "Forum Boarium", a market of oxen on the banks of the ancient trading port of Rome: Portus Tiberinus.

The port already existed before the foundation of Rome, the urban planning took place only under the Etruscan kings, especially with Servius Tullius.

The square takes its name from the Mouth of Truth, today in the portico of the basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin.

In addition to the basilica dating from the late Middle Ages, in the square there are the Arcus Argentariorum, the Arch of Janus, the Temple of Hercules (erroneously identified with the Temple of Vesta because of its circular shape), and the Temple of Portunus (deity linked to the river port that once stood here).


Temple of Portunus

The Temple of Portunus is dedicated to the protector of rivers and harbors, is placed on a podium, with four fluted Ionic columns on the main front and travertine twelve semi against the wall of the cell in tuff.


Temple of Hercules

The Temple of Hercules, circular in shape, is the oldest marble building remained in Rome, is composed of a peripteral of 20 columns resting on a plinth with stepped foundation in tuff Dark Cave.

The building is also called, erroneously, the Temple of Vesta, perhaps because similar to that in the Roman Forum, dedicated to the goddess.


The Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin

The Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, dating from the sixth century, was enlarged in the eighth century by Pope Hadrian I and entrusted to the Greeks who took refuge in Rome from the East, as a result of thinking that prevailed at that time, that is, to repudiate the sacred images and reform the religious cult. From here derives the name of the church, cosmedin, perhaps in reference to the ancient monastery of Byzantium, Kosmidìon.


The square in the past

In the past the Square Mouth of Truth, was two feet above the current plan of the church of S. Maria in retained, leveling was made by Clement XI in 1715, which at that time had it placed in the center of the square, the fountain of the Tritons, work of Charles Bizzaccheri Perugia, who, inspired by the coat of arms of the Pope himself, drew a octagonal basin with eight concave sides, to form an eight-pointed star, the star of the pope Albani, in the middle, on top of a group of boulders, adorned with aquatic plants and also of travertine as the whole complex of the fountain, rise two mighty tritons, kneeling and with their tails entwined. The two newts, Marquises turn his back, with his arms raised on the shoulders support a cup -shaped sea shell open, from which the water comes out and on whose outer edge is carved the coat of arms of Pope himself, three mounds topped by a star.

Here until 1868 were carried out death sentences.


The Mouth of Truth

Inside the portico of the early Christian church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin - built in the sixth century on the altar maximum of Hercules where the famous Mouth of Truth, probably an old manhole classical age shaped mask. It represents a bearded man's face, eyes, nose and mouth are drilled and cables. This large marble disc -1.75 m in diameter - placed here in 1632, is known by tourists from around the world for its medieval custom to which it is associated.

CURIOSITY : In the time of ancient Rome, Mouth of Truth was a manhole. The manholes, in Ancient Rome, reported often the effigy of a river god that "swallows" the rainwater.


Medieval custom

The medieval custom was to be accused of a crime insert his hand into the "Mouth of Truth" which served as a lie detector: the accused was forced to put your hand in the mouth, and, if innocent, nothing happened, and, if found guilty, his hand was amputated. Of course someone (the magistrate), well aware of the facts or thinks he knows the truth, it was an executioner put the other side of the wall.



It is said that a woman, the wife of a Roman nobleman, who was accused of treason, was forced by her husband to put his hand in his mouth. Before the image, the crowd anxiously awaited the verdict, when suddenly the true lover hugged and kissed the woman. She, smart, pretended not to know him, mistaking him for a madman.

At the trial of his hand, he admitted that he had never kissed anyone but her husband and the crowds who had earlier attacked. The hand of course remained intact, with great satisfaction of the noble consort. The woman was so forgiven and welcomed back to his house, while the Mouth of Truth from that moment became just, if I may say so, a place of pilgrimage for tourists and curious.


Other legends and interpretations

The fame of this mask, confounding (do not know if depicting Jupiter Ammon, the god of ocean, or an oracle or a faun) turns out to be legendary and ancient: in the eleventh century. d. C., it was given the power to predict prophecies. Even its use and its functions are as yet ambiguous: once taken to the fountain, it was then exchanged for a manhole, even if the best hypothesis as well as curious, satire attaches to the function of the sewer.

A text of that testifies that the inscription was hiding behind the voice of the devil, in the guise of Mercury, which severely punished by the Emperor Julian after he tricked a woman right on that stone had sworn his innocence. It is thought that even in the Middle Ages it was Virgil himself who built mouth, to test all spouses that they had doubts about the loyalty of others.

His name appears for the first time in 1485, when the sculpture was included in law and mentioned among the Roman curiosity, and often represented in prints and drawings. Just one of these designs can be seen that the mouth was originally placed on the outside of the portico of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, only in 1631 as a result of the work ordered by Pope Urban VII was moved inside the church porch.

More or less similar legends have followed for all the centuries to come, especially in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, to the present day, in which the value of one photo at a prodigious Mouth of Truth, has reached to a trip to the Colosseum, or Piazza S. Peter.


Popular Movies

One of the most famous movies filmed in the capital, Roman Holiday, makes this place sets in the set, in a brief scene in which the two protagonists, Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, want to give themselves proof of their nascent feeling, in front of the symbol for excellence of what is the boundary between truth and falsehood. In front of the statue, Joe -Peck, talks to Anna- Hepburn, the myth about the Mouth of Truth, and pushes her to put her hand in the mouth; uncertain Anna tries, but his ingenuity leads her to believe the legend, and fears that the statue could take it in fragrant, proving his lie.

So Joe, is shown to the contrary reckless and self-confident, put your hand into the slot, and then retracts screaming pretending that the mouth have him severed the hand. She frightened and appalled at the same time, comes to the aid of the beloved, but at that moment Joe pulls out his arm with the hand hidden up his sleeve.

"So it's true !" Anna thinks more incredulous, until Joe, sly, he pulls out, the hand, teasing her.

" I fear that you did! " Screams sulky Anna, now surrounded by the embrace of his Joe softened. "As I fell for that stupid I am."

In the mouth has devoted careful and truthful description of another art, poetry, represented by its greatest exponent of the Roman Empire, Giuseppe Gioacchino Belli, with a poem that bears his name:

In d'una cchiesa sopra a'na piazzetta/ un po' ppiú ssù dde Piazza Montanara/ pe la strada che pporta a la Salara/ c'è in nell'entrà una cosa bbenedetta./ Pe ttutta Roma cuant'è llarga e stretta/ nun poterai trovà ccosa ppiú rrara./ È una faccia de pietra che tt'impara/ chi ha ddetta la bbuscía, chi nnu l'ha ddetta./ S'io mo a sta faccia, c'ha la bbocca uperta,/ je sce metto una mano, e nu la strigne,/ la verità dda mé ttiella pe ccerta./ Ma ssi fficca la mano uno in buscía,/ èssi sicuro che a ttirà nné a spigne/ cuella mano che llí nnun viè ppiú vvia..


Where is?

Access is on Piazza Bocca della Verità.

Public Transport: lines # 95, 160, 170, 44, 716 and 781 arrive at the bus stop Mouth of Truth. The nearest metro station, about 300 meters is Circus Maximus (Metro B).



Translated via software



Italian version of