Mouth of Truth: Rome's ancient lie detector

Mouth of Truth remains hugely popular with visitors to Rome.

Rome's Bocca della Verità, or Mouth of Truth, is an ancient marble mask which according to the popular mediaeval legend will bite the hand off anybody who has told a lie.

The curious mask, believed to date to the first century AD, forms part of the portico of the eighth-century Basilica di S. Maria in Cosmedin, where the disc-like monument has remained since the 17th century.

The original purpose of the face is unknown although some historians suggest it may have been an ornate drain cover for the nearby Temple of Hercules Victor.

It is thought that the mask may depict the sea titan god Oceanus, while the superstition associated with the Mouth of Truth may have originated in the Middle Ages.

Audrey Hepburn with the Mouth of Truth in Roman Holiday

The Mouth of Truth gained international fame in the 1953 classic Roman Holiday, starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, and today steady queues of tourist line up to be photographed putting their hands into the mouth of the bearded face.

Located near the Circus Maximus, the Mouth of Truth can be visited during the winter from 09.30 until 17.00 (gates close at 16.50) and during the warmer months from 09.30 until 18.00 (gates close at 17.50).

General Info

Address 00186 Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy

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Mouth of Truth: Rome's ancient lie detector

00186 Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy

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Wanted in Rome
Wanted in Rome is a monthly magazine in English for expatriates in Rome established in 1985. The magazine covers Rome news stories that may be of interest to English and Italian speaking residents, and tourists as well. The publication also offers classifieds, photos, information on events, museums, churches, galleries, exhibits, fashion, food, and local travel.
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