"Basilica of St. Paolo fuori le mura" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Thursday 28th April 2011
Along Via Ostiense in the place where, according to the tradition, the Apostle of all people was buried, the first Christians erected a sepulchral chapel. Afterwards the chapel was changed into a basilica by Costantino. Around the basilica, that became one of the most important stage of the Roman Pilgrimage, a district grew and around 9th century it was fortified. Along the centuries the basilica was enriched with splendid masterpieces. In 1070 the wonderful bronze portals, fused in Costantinopoli by Byzantine workforce, were gifted to it. In 13th century very important Roman marble workers, such as Arnolfo di Cambio, who made the Ciborium and Pietro Cavallini, whose decorations of the nave and the façade were unfortunately irreparably damaged, worked on it.
Other works were carried out in 15th and 17th century. In August 1823 the basilica was nearly completely destroyed by a fire that spared only the transept and part of the façade. The temple was build again with the current layout between 1825 and 1854 following the plan and dimensions of the ancient basilica. The façade, decorated with mosaics of 19th century, is preceded by a four huge porches. Inside there are four aisles and a nave divided by 80 granite columns. The nave is enclosed by the Arch of Triumph decorated with mosaics of 5th century unfortunately repeatedly restored. The famous Ciborium by Arnolfo di Cambio (1285) hides the central altar under which there is the grave of the Apostle. The Apse is dominated by the magnificent mosaic of 18th century.
In the near Chapel of the Holy Sacrament, designed by Carlo Maderno, there is the grave of Pietro Cavalini and two precious masterpieces fortunately saved from the fire of 1823: a cross of 14th century attributed to the same Cavallini and a really much venerated wooden statue of St. Paolo dating back the end of 300. From the transept it is possible to enter the Cloister of 3rd century, one of the most beautiful in Rome, with rich and variegated small columns, inlaid and mosaic embellishments.
Via Ostiense 186 - phone 06 541 03 41
Bus 23 - 170 - 223
Metro B San Paolo.