Tucked away in a side street close to the Bank of England in the City of London is The Mithraeum, an attraction which is well worth a visit by anyone who wants to know more about London’s history.
The Square Mile whichencompasses the City of London is the historic heart of the city and it was this area that was first settled by the Romans over two thousand years ago. It has been continuously occupied ever since.
The Mithraeum is a fantastic way to step through the layers of history that can be found in this area. As you walk down the stairs, look at the walls around you to see the markings of the actual layers of history through which you are walking. It starts with the most recent devastation caused during the Blitz in World War Two, before passing through the Victorian streets, the Georgian coffee houses, the Great Fire of London in 1666, Tudor London when courtiers of King Henry VIII as well as the king’s wives visited goldsmiths in the area, as well as the medieval lords and ladies, merchants and priests who inhabited the city. Another twist in the stairs takes you back even deeper, through the times of the Vikings and Saxons before the last step leaves you on the ground that was walked on by the Romans.
Pass through the door into the Mithraeum itself to find something very unusual. This is not just a collection of archaeological remains outlining rooms of long past buildings. Attempts have been made to explain and bring to life just what people would have experienced when they entered the building all those centuries ago.
Tall columns of light emerge out of the darkness to create a 4D impression of a Mithraeic temple. Then the chanting begins, as voices carry out those long forgotten rituals to the god Mithras and eventually at the far end of the temple, the image of the god slaying a bull emerges out of the mists of time. It is really atmospheric and well worth visiting. Strolling around the temple it is hard not to be amazed by the sheer size of the building. This historical site is not far from budget hotels near Paddington Station UK.
Interestingly, the temple has been set up in almost exactly the place where it was first found in the aftermath of the Second World War. The remains were moved and placed elsewhere in the City for many years, but have now been returned to their original home.
Take a look in the display cases while at the Mithraeum. These contain over 600 items that were discovered by archaeologists recently exploring the site. Tucked away near the ground are two of the most spectacular finds – the first handwritten documents to be found anywhere in the UK. One of the little tablets actually contains an IOU relating to a loan being made by two Romans back in the first century AD showing just how important commerce has always been in this area. The other tablet is just as significant. Written only a few years later, it contains the first ever mention of the name of the city – Londinum, which eventually became London.
So, book a stay at Edward Hotel London and enjoy your visit to Mithraeum.