Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls

This church was built over the burial place of St. Paul, and is one of the four most important basilicas in Rome.

TravelCurious Tip

Visit the Chapel of Relics to see, among other precious objects, the chain that supposedly shackled St. Paul to his Roman guard while he was imprisoned.

Peter and Paul

The Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls was first built under the Emperor Constantine the Great in the 4th century AD, and today is one of the city’s four Major Ancient Papal Basilicas.

The basilica was built on the burial site of the St. Paul in order to commemorate his martyrdom, and the saint’s tomb still resides beneath its main altar today. St. Paul was one of Jesus’s Apostles and after the Crucifixion came to Rome with St. Peter, the first Pope, in order to spread the message of Christianity. Like his fellow disciple Peter, Paul was martyred under the tyrannical reign of Nero, probably by beheading.

Burnt basilica

In 1823 the basilica burned down thanks to a careless workman who was repairing lead on the roof, leaving little except the apse and triumphal arch of the original structure surviving. The reconstruction was an ornate affair: the new design features gorgeous columned porticoes framing the courtyard of the building, and inside are further rows of columns lining the nave under ornate stuccoed ceilings.

Some elements of the old church remain, such as the 5th century mosaic depicting Christ with angels and wise men above the Chancel arch, a fabulous 12th century paschal candlestick, and the Gothic baldacchino canopy above the main altar from 1286. You can also visit the serene 13th century cloister, considered the most beautiful of the Middle Ages, which boasts a charming rose garden surrounded by decorative columns of all shapes and sizes which seem to stand guard over the ancient tombs placed here during the renovations of the 19th century.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Rome
Aventine Hill
Amazing vistas across Rome, beautiful roses, and a secret keyhole with a special view of St. Peter’s.
Pyramid of Cestius
A rarely-visited tomb that is over 2000 years old, well preserved thanks to its part in the ancient city fortifications.
Porta Portese Market
A large and bustling flea market, held every Sunday in Trastevere.
Fontana dell'Acqua Paola
This Fountain owes its name to Pope Paul V after he restored it, it remains a picturesque spot to this day.
Baths of Caracalla
Perhaps the most monumental and imposing archeological complexes of the entire Imperial epoch, the baths provided the population with sanitation facilities and opportunities to socialise.
Catacombs of San Callisto
They were the official cemetery of the Church of Rome in the 3rd century AD.

Related Tours

Private Church Tour: In The Footsteps of St Paul
On this three hour tour, your expert local guide will take you through the story and sites of St Paul’s martyrdom.On your private tour, you will:

  • Learn about Rome during the time of St Paul - from the emperor to the living conditions of locals, and the persecution of Christians.
  • Explore the Mamertine Prison (Tullianum) where St Paul was imprisoned before his death.
  • See the Abbey of the Three Fountains where St Paul was supposedly killed.
  • See the Basilica of St. Paul a church built over the burial place of Saint Paul.
St Paul is one of the most important Christian preachers and one of the religion’s most dramatic martyrs. He lived in an age of religious persecution in the days of the Roman Emperor Nero. Nero was renowned for being a brutal ruler, killing many of the early Christians, who subsequently became martyrs. On your private tour, you will be able to step back in time, in the context of Paul's letters to the Romans and uncover the historical context under which his words were penned. 


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