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Abbazia di San Paolo fuori le Mura

Via Ostiense 186, 00146 Rome, Italy
+39 06 541 0341
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At the beginning of the 4th century, with the end of the persecutions and the promulgation of the Edicts of Tolerance in favour of Christianity, Emperor Constantine ordered the excavation of the cella memoriae, the place where Christians venerated the memory of Saint Paul the Apostle, beheaded under Nero around 65-67 A.D. Above his grave, located along the Ostiense Way, about two kilometers outside the Aurelian Walls surrounding Rome, Constantine built a Basilica which was consecrated by Pope Sylvester in 324. Between 384 and 395 the Basilica, under the emperors Theodosius, Valentinian II and Arcadius, was restored and enlarged according to an extensive project consisting of five naves opening out into an atrium (quadriportico), or courtyard with four rows of columns. Throughout the centuries the Basilica would not cease to be embellished and enhanced by the Popes. For example, the massive defensive wall was built to protect against invasions at the end of the ninth century, while the bell tower and the magnificent Byzantine door were constructed in the eleventh century. Other important additions include Pietro Cavallini’s mosaics in the facade, the beautiful Vassalletto family’s cloister, Arnolfo di Cambio’s celebrated Gothic baldachin and the Candelabrum for the Paschal candle attributed to Nicola d’Angelo and Pietro Vassalletto of the thirteenth century. This historical period represents the golden age of what had been the biggest Basilica of Rome, until the consecration of the new Basilica of St. Peter in 1626. This sacred place of Christian pilgrimage was well-known for its artistic works. On the night of July 15, 1823, a fire destroyed this unique testimony to the Paleo-Christian, Byzantine, Renaissance and Baroque periods. The Basilica was reconstructed identically to what it had been before, utilizing all the elements which had survived the fire. In 1840 Pope Gregory XVI consecrated the Altar of the Confession and the Transept. Other embellishments followed the reconstruction. In 1928 the portico with 150 columns was added. Contemporary work in the Basilica has uncovered the tomb of the Apostle, while other important and beneficial works are carried out, as in the past, thanks to the generosity of Christians from all over the world. In the fifth century under the Pontificate of Leo the Great, the Basilica became the home of a long series of medallions which would to this day depict all the popes throughout history. This testifies, in an extraordinary way, to “the very great, the very ancient and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul” (Saint Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses 3, 3,2). Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls constitutes an extra-territorial complex (Motu Proprio by Pope Benedict XVI, 30 May 2005), administered by an Archpriest. In addition to the Papal Basilica, the entire complex includes a very ancient Benedictine Abbey, restored by Odon of Cluny in 936. This Abbey remains active even today under the direction of its Abbot who retains his ordinary jurisdiction intra septa monasterii. The Benedictine Monks of the ancient Abbey, founded near the tomb of the Apostle by Pope Gregory II (715-731), attend to the ministry of Reconciliation (or Penance) and the promotion of special ecumenical events. It is in this Basilica that every year on the feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, January 25, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity solemnly opens. The Pope has specified two privileged tasks for this Papal Basilica: the Sacrament of Reconciliation (or Penance) and the development and organization of ecumenical initiatives. On June 28, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI visited the Basilica and announced that the following year would be designated the “Pauline Year” to commemorate the bimillennium of the birth of Saint Paul. Thus, the “Pauline Year” was run from June 28, 2008 to June 29, 2009.
  • Excellent79%
  • Very good17%
  • Average2%
  • Poor1%
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Travellers talk about
“st paul” (55 reviews)
“major basilicas” (29 reviews)
“paul's tomb” (25 reviews)
Closes in 28 min
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Hours Today: 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Suggested Duration: 1-2 hours
LOCATION
Via Ostiense 186, 00146 Rome, Italy
Ostiense
CONTACT
Website
+39 06 541 0341
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1 - 10 of 1,042 reviews

Reviewed 4 October 2017

This is one of the four papal basilicas just south of the old Roman Wall. It is currently undergoing restoration of the nave but the transept with its wonderful mosaics were in full view. The nave has small medallions of the popes with a spotlight...More

Thank Ugurd
Reviewed 2 October 2017

One of the amazing basilicas in Rome. Easy to reach with the metro, just go to metrostation Sao Paolo. Again a building that is in perfect harmony,

Thank Frank741258
Reviewed 30 September 2017

This church is part of the Walk of the Chistian Churches in Rome, but if you have time, plan to visit Abbazia di San Paolo fuori le Mura. No doubts is the number 1 church in Rome, better than the Vatican one. The only issue...More

1  Thank RMorgado
Reviewed 28 September 2017

Abbazia di San Paolo fuori le Mura is an enormous giant of a church. You can literally get lost in there! We were absolutely awestruck by the magnificence of this structure. It looks vast on the outside and on the inside it feels even larger....More

Thank Dimitris L
Reviewed 14 September 2017

This is not a church that is on many peoples must sees ? It should be, it is truly amazing. It is large with a main area in the center and various other stunning chapels on the side and rear.We were fortunate to visit when...More

Thank Ceilings
Reviewed 23 August 2017

ONe of the big advantage, that there are fewer visitors, than in some churches in the middle of the city. It also helps, that the church is huge. It is wonderful! Thanks God it is not our job to make a list of the most...More

Thank 545medva
Reviewed 16 August 2017

Strongly urge a guide to explore this beauty if you are not a history buff or architectural savant. The incredible history of this Abbey and belief that this is the burial ground of St Paul makes this a very worthwhile stop.

Thank Paulette D
Reviewed 1 July 2017 via mobile

I have been all over the city and I've seen all of the churches but this one is one of my absolute favorites. It is little advertised, but it really is a gem. Don't miss this place. You will be so happy that you came...More

1  Thank Jon M
Reviewed 25 June 2017

A massive edifice of the Catholic church, important for many reasons but mainly as the resting place of S. Paolo. The building although huge is very serene - and beautifully cool on a hot summers day! The church is free but do not miss out...More

Thank Lyn&MarkfromOz
Reviewed 6 June 2017 via mobile

This is a massive church that we stumbled upon as we were having a look around this part of town. We had jumped the metro down to stop Basilica San Paolo and we were going to a few bars when we saw this huge church...More

1  Thank Neil K
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Questions & Answers
MaltaMariosa
12 September 2016|
AnswerShow all 2 answers
Response from Chris B | Reviewed this property |
The way we did it was: walk back from the Pantheon to the Barbarini metro stop (it is a little bit of a hike). Take the red line to Termini and switch there to the blue line. Take the blue line down to the "Basilica S... More
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MaltaMariosa
12 September 2016|
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Response from BarbaraT20162016 | Reviewed this property |
There is ametro just 100 mt from the Basilica. Metro B: metro stop San Paolo
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Paolo-Chris
29 August 2015|
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Response from Jaipi | Reviewed this property |
They are are the same place. The Basilica Papale was the Pope "old church" where St Paul died and before the move to Basilica San Pietro. When you visit, do not miss the St Paul's burial place (in the main church), the... More
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