Last month marked the annual Lord Mayor’s Show, which is always a delight to watch. The show lasts till late afternoon and offers an excuse to go walkabout through this most historical area; the City of London. The City of London grew up during Roman rule, becoming after many years of change a place of mysticism, history and a treasure trove of unexpected surprises. Over the years as the city has developed and rejuvenated itself and during this process amazing places are found. The Temple of Mithras is one of those.
As I meandered the streets that run higgedly-piggedly this way and that with very few that run in a straight line.
On a daily basis thousands people in the City of London walk these streets and mostly walk right on past a nondescript set of steps, few take the time to explore further and so completely miss what is just a stones throw away from St Paul’s Cathedral; a relic of the very first City of London.
The Temple of Mithras; a mysterious temple dedicated to the Persian god of light and the sun, where followers of what was once one of the most popular cults in the Roman Empire, once worshipped.
During building work beside nearby Walbrook to rebuild the bomb shattered heart of the capital in the aftermath of the Second World War, this temple was moved to its present site in Queen Victoria Street, allowing construction to continue uninterrupted.
The result of this, the re-constructed temple is now situated on an elevated platform some six feet above street level and much of the mysticism it would have possessed when it was largely a subterranean place of worship has sadly been lost.
The way it has been put back together, in it’s current position, allows us to gain a fascinating insight into the rites and rituals of the cult of Mithras and to see how it had a definite influence on the development of Christianity.
On site is a board where you can read a brief account of the site as it sits incongruently and completely out of place amongst the new buildings that are rising up around it. Well worth the visit for a glimpse into this fascinating period of history.
This site has now been excavated and with the site being redeveloped again, and the temple will be incorporated into a new Bloomberg building. It should be on view to the public again by 2017.