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BUILDINGS The Old Prison Is Like New …

Posted by on 16. Juli 2016

Rome

The location in ancient Rome ...

Rom

… the modern entrance ...

Rom

… stepping down to the cells ...

Rom

… one of the horrible cells ...

Rome

… the consul Lentulus ...

Rom

… and Vercingetorix

IT’S CALLED „CARCER TULLIANUS“, was built around 300 B.C. and was used for more than a 1000 years – in all of its ancient cruelty, unchanged and with a horrifying reputation. You find it right in the centre of the Italian capital Rome, on the edge of the legendary Forum Romanum (in the map look at the lower righthand corner), covered by a 16th century church with the name San Guiseppe die Falegnami (hiding the Carcer as a Christian sanctuary). Some years ago the prison was closed to the public for an urgently needed restoration (and to accommodate more tourists), but in the summer of 2016 it opened again – and I promise you a genuine shudder should you climb down the still moldy step, touch the historical iron bars, feel the menacing, feel light- and almost airless atmosphere  and visit the cells who weren’t altered since the time old Ceasar and Cicero were  murdered. The Carcer Tullianus (also known as the „Mamertine Prison“) housed – as the most famous of its prisoners –  the apostles Petrus (crucified later) and Paulus (who survived it), the first Roman consul Lentulus in 63 B. C. (executed) and the Gallic hero Vercengetorix (also executed) in 46 B. C. One routine down there was as follows: If you were a Roman citizen – imprisoned, possibly tortutered and killed. As a foreigner – imprisoned, tortured,  shown in Triumphal Processions, back to the Carcer and strangled by the executioners hands with a piece of rope. The corpses were brought up to be displayed publicly and later thrown into the Tiber river. And I wouldn’t wonder if some poor souls were held there during the German occupation in Wold War II. So if you love the splendor of the Roman Empire (and Peter Ustinov as emperor Nero), you should also see its shady side. And I tell you: This Carcer Tullianus, even renovated, is very, very shady – some cynics might even adore its coolness in the hot Roman summer …

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