San Nicola in Carcere in Rome, Italy

Details of the Roman columns on the side of the church.

Viale del Teatro di Marcello and Via Petroselli present an eclectic display of restored Roman churches and exceptional ancient Roman architectural remains. This includes the small church of San Nicola in Carcere (Saint Nicholas in Prison). 

The church was constructed over the remains of three small republican temples dedicated by victorious Roman generals between the 3rd and 2nd centuries CE. These temples were commonly identified with three minor deities known as Spes (Hope), Janus, and Juno Sospita.

During the 12th or 13th-century, the church was restored, reconsecrated, and named after Saint Nicholas, an important saint for the Greek and Byzantine community in Rome. The church recycled several architectural elements from the temples including the columns visible on the façade and sidewalls. The church itself was constructed on a podium of the temple of Juno Sospita. 

One inscription that stands out on the second column on the left-hand-side celebrates its donation by Anastasius dedicated to “Saint Anna, Simeon, and Lucia.” The column was most certainly located elsewhere before the medieval consecration of the present church.

Beneath San Nicola, excavations have revealed the foundations of temples and provides an insight into the architectural techniques used by the Romans.

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