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San Nicola in Carcere, Rome

(95 reviews on the web)
Church Tourist Spot
San Nicola in Carcere is a titular church in Rome near the Forum Boarium in rione Sant'Angelo. It is one of the traditional stational churches of Lent.HistoryThe first church on the site was probably built in the 6th century, and a 10th-century inscription may be seen on a fluted column next to the entrance, but the first definite dedication is from a plaque on the church dating to 1128. The inscriptions found in S. Angelo, a valuable source illustrating the history of the Basilica, have been collected and published by Vincenzo Forcella.It was constructed in and from the ruins of the Forum Holitorium and its temples, along with a jail (carcer) which a tradition (supported by Pliny's history of Rome) states was sited in the temples' ruins. However, the in Carcere (in jail) part of the name of the church was only changed to "in Carcere Tulliano" in the 14th century, owing to an erroneous identification. The prison was really that of Byzantine times (LPD i.515, n13; ii.295, n12).Spolia from all these ancient remains is still apparent in the church's construction, most particularly three columns from the Temple of Juno Sospita which are incorporated into both the 10th century and 1599 north façades of the church.The dedication to St Nicholas was made by the Greek population in the area. In the 11th century, it was known as the church of Petrus Leonis, referring to the converted Jewish family, the Pierleoni, who rebuilt the nearby Theatre of Marcellus as a fortress. One of their members, Pietro Pierleone, was an important cardinal in the 1120s and was elected Pope Anacletus II, though he was later branded a schismatic antipope.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • For €3 a mooch round the underground chambers can be had in this unpreposessing scaffolded basilica which most walk by to get to the Bocca della Verita. They only let one party down at a time which ad...  more »
  • I came upon the little old church of San Nicola in Carcere by accident. Its point of interest was its underground excavations. I was the only visitor and had to search out and importune (with a few eu...  more »
  • On our way to the Trastevere area of Rome, we decided to stop in this basilica. Its very small and dark. Luckily there was someone there who asked if we wanted to go down under the basilica and we wer...  more »
Google
  • Light true wax lights for your loved ones. Possibility of descending under the church. Old and falling-to-pieces-look from the outside. Concerts are announced at the door.
  • Amazing but I agree with the top review; only worth it if you're passing by anyways. Don't go out of your way to visit.
  • Cool historical church
  • Worth a stop if you're passing by but don't go out of your way
  • Church built on top of three old temples - some of their old columns are integrated in the walls. You can enter the underground site of the old temples.