Video provided by Agence France-Presse
This is the first look inside an 1,800-year-old Roman temple that has been brought back to life in London.
The building, dedicated to the god Mithras, has been restored to its original site, which lies beneath the new multi-million-pound Bloomberg headquarters near Mansion House.
The remains are enhanced by light and sound effects, including chants inspired by ancient graffiti found scrawled on a similar temple in Rome. This recreates what historians say is “a best guess” about what went on during ceremonies there.
Museum of London archaeologist Sophie Jackson, an adviser on the project, said: “London is a Roman city, yet there are few traces of its distant past that people can experience first-hand. It’s extremely important that a site like this exists — it is a new and different way of approaching ruins and because it is a reconstruction we have been allowed to be more creative.”
The remains of the temple were first found when the land was being cleared in 1954. They were removed and installed in a haphazard fashion 100 metres down the road before Bloomberg took them on as part of the deal to build its headquarters.
About 600 items found during a dig in the area have also gone on show, including the oldest discovered hand-written document in Britain, etched on a wooden tablet, and a plaque of a bull. A replica of a relief showing Mithras sacrificing one of the animals is also on display.
In addition, Bloomberg has built a contemporary art space on street level above the temple. Its founder, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, said his firm was building on London’s tradition as “a crossroads for culture and business”. The Mithraeum opens to the public next Tuesday. It is free to enter between Tuesday and Sunday but advance booking is required via londonmithraeum.com