What is the Mouth of Truth?
There is a strong theory for its use and origin, although we can’t quite be sure, that it may have been an ancient drain cover from the Roman times. The Mouth of Truth underwent carbon dating which confirms that it is from the Ancient Roman period. The marble mask is enormous and weighs in at an incredible 1300 kg, notice that the holes for the eyes, nostrils and mouth could theoretically allow the water to pass through.
The Mouth of Truth was found in the 13th century located very close to a pagan Roman temple dedicated to Hercules , and it is believed to have been contained inside the temple. Hercules was the Roman equivalent of the Greek Divine Hero Heracles, characteristically famous for his strength and for his numerous far-ranging adventures.
The Legend of the The Mouth of Truth
The Mouth of Truth, or Bocca Della Verita in Italiano, is extremely famous for the medieval legend that is associated with it. People believed that the mouth of the marble face would close and remove the hand of anyone that told a lie when they dared to put their hand inside. You could call it an ancient lie detector.
Back in the day people who were accused of committing perjury or adultery were brought here. After swearing under oath they would then put their hand into the mouth. According to the legend it was even used during the Middle Ages as a trial by ordeal. An executioner would hide behind the disc with a sharp sword ready to strike.
The legend became a popular part of Roman culture and one of Rome’s most popular hidden gems. Italian parents still threaten fibbing children with a visit to the Mouth of Truth. The 1953 film ‘Roman Holiday’ featured it and made it famous in the world through Hollywood.
Where is the Mouth of Truth?
Use this map we’ve added below to take a look at where it is or navigate there. The Mouth of Truth is located in central Rome, on the porch of the church Santa Maria in Cosmedin.
A Stone’s Throw Away
If you are going to visit then make sure you combine it with a short stroll over the oldest bridge in Rome the Pons Fabricus. Incredibly the bridge was constructed in 62 BCE, and it still stands in its original location and its original state. On the other side of the bridge, you find the beautiful area of Trastevere which certainly cannot be missed during your stay in the Eternal city – our team regularly eats here as it is famous for the cities best Roman food. That should keep you busy for a few hours in Rome!