It was by chance that we stopped by this lesser known attraction in Rome as my niece was having her piano recital in the vicinity (this story is for another day).
We often drive by St. Paul Outside-The-Walls and while I would have a few seconds to admire this stunning Basilica, the last time I stepped in was over ten years ago.
As one of the four Basilicas in Rome, you would imagine there would be more visitors here but when we finally had the long overdue visit a few Saturday’s ago, there was barely a handful of people. If you would like to go slightly off the beaten path, and away from the crowds, you should include this attraction in Rome to your list of places to see.
Attraction in Rome: History of St. Paul Outside-The-Wall
The Basilica was built in the4th century by orders of Emperor Constantine over the tomb of St Paul who was beheaded by Nero between 65-67 AD. Expansion, restoration and enhancements of St Paul Outside-The-Walls continued to take place under various Emperors and Popes and was considered the most beautiful during the papacy of Pope Leo III.
In 1823, misfortune struck and the Basilica was destroyed by a fire. The Basilica was rebuilt with materials that survived the fire and the appeal made by Pope Leo XII resulted in gifts from all over the world. Examples of gifts received included alabaster columns and windows from King Fouad I of Egypt.
Architecture: Facade and Interior
When we were in the grounds of St Paul Outside-The-Wall, there is a feeling of tranquility and serenity. The Basilica is extremely well-kept and the stunning mosaics which were sparkling with the sun’s rays just leaves you in awe. In the center of the quadriportico with the 150 columns added in 1928, you will find the statue of St. Paul.
The exterior, as amazing as it is, can’t prepare you for the magnificence that you will encounter inside the Basilica. Maintaining it’s original structure with a nave and four lanes aisles, the 80 columns and ceiling stuccos added in the 19th century, are remarkable.
Make sure you allocate a good hour for a visit to the St Paul Outside-The-Wall to take in all it’s splendor. Plan for a relaxing visit as there won’t be any lines and you’ll basically have this attraction to yourself.
From what we saw, at the side of the Basilica, as you exit, there is a bar (cafe) that is covered where you can buy and enjoy refreshments. Further along, there are also some remnants from the original Basilica. It’s a lovely setting!
As it has been hot in Rome, a visit to this Basilica would be a welcome break from the high temperatures and it is easier to reach than you think. Take the Metro B Line, getting off a San Paolo stop and it’s less than a 10-minute walk. For more information , please visit their website.
This attraction in Rome is worth the visit and if you are looking to get away from the crowds, this is one of the places for you.