The second-largest church in Rome
With its mosaics, Byzantine inspiration and immense portico, the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls is a counterpoint to the Baroque opulence of St Peter’s Basilica – the only church that surpasses it in size in the whole of Rome. Its construction dates back to the 4th century AD on the site where, according to tradition, the Apostle Paul was buried. The church only took on its current form during the 19th century, designed by architect Pasquale Belli.
The façade immediately catches your eye thanks to the richness and luminosity of the mosaics that cover the entire upper section, supported by immense columns and surrounded by a large four-sided portico. Eighty monolithic columns divide the interior of the Basilica into five naves, richly decorated with mosaics and frescoes.
The cloister represents one of the best-preserved wonders of 13th-century Rome. The manicured flower beds are bordered by small columns of different shapes – some smooth, some fluted, some twisted or covered with mosaics – supporting rounded arches. The garden, tended by the Benedictine monks of the Abbey of San Paolo, symbolises Eden and contains trees and plants mentioned in the Bible.