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“Giant!”

Abbazia di San Paolo fuori le Mura
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US$116.55*
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Full Day Tour: Vatican Museums, St. Peter's and the Most Important Basilicas of...
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US$95.63*
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Christianity in the Ancient Rome Private Tour
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US$95.63*
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Private Tour: Basilicas of Rome
Ranked #15 of 1,536 things to do in Rome
Certificate of Excellence
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Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: 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.
Milan, Italy
Level 6 Contributor
150 reviews
35 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“Giant!”
Reviewed 28 July 2014

to see! is the third largest basilica in the world .. too bad it was almost entirely rebuilt after the fire of 1823, but the majesty still leaves gaping

Visited July 2014
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Valletta, Malta
Level 3 Contributor
17 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Impressive venue. Disappointing shop.”
Reviewed 27 July 2014

Whilst I enjoyed every single minute of the visit to this Basilica which I keep very dear due to St Paul, I have to say I was really disappointed with the service at the shop. We bought a silver badge to bring to a relative back home and were given no proper box for it. Just a small paper bag.

Visited July 2014
Helpful?
Thank PaulMalta2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Trento, Italy
Level 3 Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Great”
Reviewed 26 July 2014 via mobile

Very beautiful place, worth to visit. Museum is not so interesting if you are not a fan of religion (except for the small garden - it's gorgeous). Book shop is worth visiting you can buy there some products made in the abbey.

Helpful?
Thank Naydenova
This review is the subjective opinion of an individual traveller and not of TripAdvisor LLC nor of its partners.
Nis, Serbia
Level 6 Contributor
159 reviews
149 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
“Fuori”
Reviewed 23 July 2014

It was outside the old Roman walls, as name says it and it is a bit off the tourist way, but go and see it! It is emposing, beautiful and peaceful. Nice garden behind, and great mosaics inside!

Visited June 2014
Helpful?
2 Thank Bob R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 6 Contributor
117 reviews
59 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“Spectacular”
Reviewed 22 July 2014

As this was about 10 minutes walk from our hotel we decided to pay a visit. The building is huge and inside the stained glass windows and paintings were spectacular. It is incredibly ornate and visually stunning.

Visited July 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank JPH1984
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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