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View looking west at the exterior of the Mamertine Prison.  The church of San Guiseppe dei Falegnami stands above the prison—completed in 1663 and refurbished in 1886.  On the street level, notice the metal fencing.  Behind it is a door that leads down into the two-story prison.

According to historical sources, high status prisoners were detained in the lower prison from the sixth century B.C. on—including captive kings and rulers.  According to Christian tradition, this is where Peter and Paul were kept—at different times, probably while awaiting execution.  Of course Acts 28:30 indicates that Paul spent two "full years in his own rented quarters" (NASB).