This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in Italian. (July 2021) Click [show] for important translation instructions. View a machine-translated version of the Italian article. Machine translation like DeepL or Google Translate is a useful starting point for translations, but translators must revise errors as necessary and confirm that the translation is accurate, rather than simply copy-pasting machine-translated text into the English Wikipedia. Consider adding a topic to this template: there are already 2,673 articles in the main category, and specifying|topic= will aid in categorization. Do not translate text that appears unreliable or low-quality. If possible, verify the text with references provided in the foreign-language article. You must provide copyright attribution in the edit summary accompanying your translation by providing an interlanguage link to the source of your translation. A model attribution edit summary is Content in this edit is translated from the existing Italian Wikipedia article at [[:it:Basilica sotterranea di Porta Maggiore]]; see its history for attribution. You should also add the template ((Translated|it|Basilica sotterranea di Porta Maggiore)) to the talk page. For more guidance, see Wikipedia:Translation.
Porta Maggiore Basilica
Stucchi della volta della basilica sotterranea di porta maggiore.jpg
Vault of the Porta Maggiore Basilica
Porta Maggiore Basilica is located in Rome
Roma Plan.jpg
Porta Maggiore Basilica
Porta Maggiore Basilica
Shown within Augustan Rome
Click on the map for a fullscreen view
Coordinates41°53′29″N 12°30′55″E / 41.891512°N 12.515144°E / 41.891512; 12.515144Coordinates: 41°53′29″N 12°30′55″E / 41.891512°N 12.515144°E / 41.891512; 12.515144

The Porta Maggiore Basilica is an underground basilica[1] discovered in 1917 near Porta Maggiore in Rome. It is dated to the first century BC.[2] [3] It is believed to have been the meeting place of the neo-Pythagoreans, and is the only historical site that has been associated with the neo-Pythagorean movement. This school of mystical Hellenistic philosophy preached asceticism and was based on the works of Pythagoras and Plato.[4] It was a precursor to the basilicas built during the Christian period, centuries later. It was opened to small groups of visitors in April 2015.


It is 12 m (40 ft) below the street level. The underground chamber was discovered accidentally in 1917 during the construction of a railway line from Rome to Cassino. An underground passage caved in, revealing the hidden chamber.[5]


The structure is thought to have been constructed by the Statilius family. The then head of the family, Titus Statilius Taurus, was accused by the Senate for what Tacitus in his Annals called "addiction to magical superstitions". He protested his innocence but eventually committed suicide in CE53.


The basilica has three naves lined by six rock pillars and an apse.[6][7] They are decorated with stucco images of centaurs, griffins and satyrs. Classical heroes such as Achilles, Orpheus, Paris and Hercules are also represented.[8]

Originally the basilica was entered through a long downhill entrance from the Prenestina Street, and through a vestibule.[9]


The basilica underwent several years of restoration work. In 1951, a concrete shell was constructed that enclosed the entire basilica. Air purifiers from IQAir in Switzerland have been installed to combat radon gas.

The 40ft-long basilica is now opened to visitors. The visiting groups are kept small because of the fragility of the monument. The temperature and humidity must be kept within a narrow range. It is open during 2nd and 4th Sunday of every month, and the tour must be prearranged.[10]


  1. ^ [Jérôme Carcopino. Etudes romaines. La basilique pythagoricienne de la Porte Majeure. Paris, l'Artisan du livre, 1927]
  3. ^ van Kasteel, Hans (2016). Le temple de Virgile ou la Basilique secrète de la Porte Majeure. Grez-Doiceau: Beya. ISBN 978-2-930729-05-3.
  4. ^ Lisa Spencer, The Neo-Pythagoreans at the Porta Maggiore in Rome, Rosicrucian digest,vol. 87 / 1 (2009), p 36
  5. ^ Secret pagan basilica in Rome emerges from the shadows after 2,000 years, Nick Squires, The Telegraph, 19 Nov 2015
  6. ^ Ball Platner, Samuel. "Basilicae".
  7. ^ Guida di Roma sotterranea - Guide to underground Rome: Dalla Cloaca Massima alla Domus Aurea i più affascinanti siti sotterranei della capitale, Carlo Pavia, Gangemi, 2000, p. 376
  8. ^ 伊ローマ地下聖堂の化粧しっくい、修復作業が進行中, AFP, April 27, 2015
  9. ^ The Underground Basilica of Porta Maggiore unveils its mysteries, 24/04/2015
  10. ^ Underground Basilica of Porta Maggiore, società cooperativa culture

Media related to Porta Maggiore underground basilica at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by
Landmarks of Rome
Porta Maggiore Basilica
Succeeded by
Roman Forum