Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls

Rome, Italy

The Papal Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls (Basilica Papale di San Paolo fuori le Mura), is one of Rome's four ancient major basilicas. The Basilica was founded by the Roman Emperor Constantine I over the burial place of St. Paul, where it was said that, after the Apostle's execution, his followers erected a memorial, called a cella memoriae.

In 386, Emperor Theodosius I began erecting a much larger and more beautiful basilica with a nave and four aisles with a transept; the work including the mosaics was not completed until Leo I's pontificate (440–461). Under Pope St. Gregory the Great (590–604) the Basilica was extensively modified. The pavement was raised to place the altar directly over St. Paul's tomb. A confession permitted access to the Apostle's sepulcher.

As it lay outside the Aurelian Walls, the Basilica was damaged in the 9th century during a Saracen raid. Consequently, Pope John VIII (872–82) fortified the Basilica, the monastery, and the dwellings of the peasantry, forming the town of Joannispolis. It existed until 1348, when an earthquake totally destroyed it.

The graceful cloister of the monastery was erected between 1220 and 1241.

On 15 July 1823, a negligent workman repairing the lead of the roof, started a fire that led to the near total destruction of this basilica, which, alone among all the churches of Rome, had preserved its primitive character for 1435 years. It was re-opened in 1840, and reconsecrated in 1855 with the presence of Pope Pius IX and fifty cardinals. The complete decoration and reconstruction, in charge of Luigi Poletti, took longer, however, and many countries made their contributions. The Viceroy of Egypt sent pillars of alabaster, the Emperor of Russia the precious malachite and lapis lazuli of the tabernacle. The work on the principal façade, looking toward the Tiber, was completed by the Italian Government, which declared the church a national monument.



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Via Ostiense, Rome, Italy
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Founded: 386 AD
Category: Religious sites in Italy


4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Giulia (2 years ago)
Imposing and gorgeous Basilica, with a lovely garden, big gift shop (best I've seen in all sights in Rome) and bar, everything in immaculate condition and extremely shiny and looked after. I could feel the sacredness of the place, immerse in centuries of history and the many materials and works of art which are there. I truly enjoyed the visit, especially because there wasn't the usual horde of tourists, the church being outside the city center, and read the panels which explain this and that at my own pace, while taking a lot of pictures. The entry is free (strangely, there was a coin operated turnstile to enter the older part beneath, but the walls and structures are visible from up as well) and I would highly recommend going when in Rome.
Christopher Estorninos (2 years ago)
This Basilica is far impressive than what I've seen in Italy. The mosaic and statues are simply breaktaking. The mere fact that Papa Francis and all the popes are not painted on but are in fact a mosaics. The Basilica is massive and the gardens in front is absolutely gorgeous. My family (24) was fortunate to have a private mass done for our family, as it was our last night in Italy. An appropriate way to end our Italian Family Adventure. The mass was held in the St. Benedict Chapel, in the nave of the Church. The staff and security made our visit welcoming and it was an honor to be recognized as their guests.
Lu Bi Huang (2 years ago)
I was blessed to be able to visit the burial place of St Paul during Easter. It is about half an hour outside of Rome and not too far from the station. It is a solemn church looked after by the Benedictine Monks and the lamp besides the tomb had been lit for over 800 years (I think I got the number correct). A must visit for anyone on a pilgrimage to Rome, you would not regret coming here. There's a cafe on site if you need a break as well as bathroom is also available.
Ryan Fuller (2 years ago)
St. Paul “Outside the Walls” (not to be confused with the similarly themed Vans “Off the Wall”) is yet another instance in Rome where one cannot help but question their entire existence. This magnificent church houses row upon row of glorious Roman columns, stunning 12th century Byzantine mosaics, and last/most prominently the very tomb of the Apostle Paul himself. As an added bonus, a chain that allegedly bound the good Apostle in prison is also on full display. An unforgettable experience and truly well worth the journey beyond the comfortable confines of the Walls!
Praveen MS (2 years ago)
Main thing is FREE Entry ?. If you want to see more details in that place have to pay little bit. One of peace-full to spend some time to relax. I liked the place mainly for PIANO PLAYING?, it’s make my mind cool and relax. Candle ? lighting with some personal offerings. Clear details of rome ruler’s.
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