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Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls

Along the Via Ostiense on the spot were by tradition the Apostle of the peoples was buried, the early Christians built a burial chapel (cella memoriae) that was later transformed into a basilica by Constantine. It soon became one of the most important stopping places of pilgrimages to Rome. The large basilica presents three naves with ancient columns and forty-two windows illuminating the interior. A borough developed around the basilica due to Saracen raids in the ninth century and was fortified later by pope John the Eighth after whom it was called Giovannopoli. In the course of centuries the basilica was enriched with splendid works of art. The magnificent bronze doors cast in Constantinople by skilled Byzantine workers were donated in 1070. They are still in situ, but turned inwards. Between August 15 and 16 1823 the basilica was nearly destroyed by a fire that spared only the transept and part of the facade. The committee instituted by pope Leo the Twelfth decided to rebuild the temple completely after examining different solutions. Pasquale Belli was assigned and he demolished the remaining parts and rebuilt the church as it looks today. Into the church, the transept gives access to one of the most beautiful cloisters in Rome built in the thirteenth century by Vassalletto with rich and variegated small twin columnssupporting small arches, that support a trabeation decorated with polychromatic tarsias and mosaics. Many architectural fragments coming from the ancient basilica and archaeological findings from the nearby Ostiense burial ground are kept in the cloister.

Further information:
Rome Tourism website
www.basilicasanpaolo.org

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