St. Paul Outside The Walls Basilica Rome

The Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls is one of the 5 so-called papal or patriarchal basilicas in Rome. In 1823 the basilica had to be almost completely rebuilt, after a fire had destroyed most of it. Highlights are the cloister and the mosaics on the triumphal arch.

St. Paul Outside the Walls Basilica Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Piazzale di San Paolo, 1 – Rome (tel. + 39 06 69880800/802). Opening hours:  07.00-18.30. Admission: Free. Metro: San paolo (line B).

Cloister + Pinacoteca + Excavations of the garden of the convent

Opening hours: From 08.00 till 18.15. Admission: 4 Euros.

History and description

Cloister - Saint Paul Outside the Walls Basilica
Cloister

It was the emperor Constantine who transformed an old burial chapel along the Via Ostiense into a basilica.

In the year 324 Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls was consecrated by Pope Sylvester I and it quickly became a major destination for pilgrimages.

In 385 the temple was enlarged, a job that took 10 years and was finished during the reign of the emperor Honorius.

In the 9th century the Saracens raided the basilica and a borough sprang up around it. When this borough was fortified by Pope John VIII it came to be called Giovannopoli.

Many of the works of art originally present in the basilica were destroyed on August 15th 1823, when a fire destroyed most of the church, except for the transept and part of the facade.

It was decided to completely rebuild the Basilica and Pope Leo XII had Pasquale Belli tear down the parts still standing before starting reconstruction, following the plan of the original basilica, however. Reconstruction took almost 30 years (1825-1854).

Saint Paul’s Outside The Walls consists of 5 naves separated by no less than 80 huge granite columns. There are 42 windows so the inside of the basilica is extremely bright. The bronze doors (which are turned inwards at present) were cast in Constantinople and donated to the basilica in the year 1070.

Several of the parts of the original basilica not destroyed in the fire can now be seen in the 13th century cloister designed by Vassalletto. The cloister is characterized by small arches supported by twin columns. It also contains archeological finds from the ancient burial ground at Ostiense. The entrance to the cloister is in the transept.

Highlights St. Paul Outside the Walls Basilica Rome

  • The 19th century mosaics on the upper part of the facade are by Luigi Poletti, as are the bell-tower and the pronaos (the inner part of the portico) on the north side. The 12 columns used for the pronaos originally stood in the nave of the ancient church.
  • The quadriportico, with the status of Saint Paul at its center, was designed by Virgilio Vespignani. Giuseppe Obici sculpted the statue.
  • The six columns in the entrance hall were donated to Gregory XVI by the viceroy of Egypt.
  • The mosaics in the central nave represent portraits of popes.
  • The frescoes in the central nave represent scenes from the life of Saint Paul.
  • The Triumphal Arch is decorated with (restored) 5th century mosaics.
  • Arnolfo di Cambio made the gothic ciborium surmounting the high altar (1285).
  • The candelabrum to the right of the altar was made by Nicola D’Angelo and Pietro Vassalletto in 1170.
  • The mosaic in the apse was commissioned by Innocent III and terminated under Honorius III (who is himself seated among the saints at Jesus’ feet).
  • The Chapel of the Holy Sacrament was designed by Carlo Maderno and contains the tomb of Pietro Cavallini, a 14th century crucifix by the same Cavallini and a 13th century wooden statue of Saint Paul.
  • Outside of the apse there are some (fragments of) Cavallini mosaics that originally embellished the facade.
  • The cloister contains the 12th century sarcophagus of Pietro Leone.
  • The picture gallery adjacent to the cloister shows some 17th century frescoes by Lanfranco that used to adorn the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament.

Being situated along the former road to Ostia, the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls used to be also known as the Ostian Basilica.

St. Paul Outside the Walls Basilica – Piazzale di San Paolo 1, Rome

Ostiense Railway Station Rome

The Ostiense railway station can be found on the Piazzale dei Partigiani, near the metro line B stop Piramide. It is here you can take the Ostia Lido train to the beach in the summer.

Ostiense Railway Station Rome

A number of other important regional railway lines also leave from Ostiense: The FR3 takes you to Viterbo, the FR5 to Rome’s port, Civitavecchia, and the interregionale to Pisa also stops in Ostiense. Finally, for those who don’t want to pay 14 Euros for the Leonardo Express, there is the FR1 to the airport of Fiumicino.

The Ostiense train station was constructed in 1938, when Adolf Hitler came to see his friend Benito Mussolini, and there are therefore distinct fascist traces in its architecture. At the time the road connecting the station to the nearby Porta San Paolo was even called after Hitler, but after the war the name was changed into the Viale delle Cave Ardeatine.

The architect Roberto Narducci designed a facade that was completely covered with travertine marble and floors that are decorated with mosaics showing scenes from the history of Rome.

There is a parking lot underneath the Piazzale dei Partigiani and another across the tracks, in the Piazzale 12 Ottobre 1942. Several bus lines connect the station of Ostiense to other parts of the city.

The Rome chapter of the slow food shopping mall Eatily can also be found at Ostiense Station.

Roma Ostiense – Rome

Pyramid Rome

Who happens to get off at the line B metro stop Piramide might be surprised to find an actual pyramid across the road from the main exit of the underground station. Though the only one still standing it was however not even the only pyramid in Rome during the golden days of the Empire.

Caio Cestio Pyramid Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Piazzale Ostiense – Rome (tel. +39 06 39967700). There is a wheelchair entrance at the Via Raffaele Persichetti. Opening hours: Every saturday and sunday morning at 10.30, after having visited the Museo della Via Ostiense, it is possible to visit the pyramid, accompanied by a guide. For information and reservations you can call +39 06.5743193. On the first saturday and sunday of the month this is free, but you still have to make a reservation.

History and description

Pyramid of Caio CestioEspecially during the reign of the Emperor August Egypt and everything related to this country was extremely fashionable in Rome, as also shown by the obelisks that can still be admired in many of the city’s main squares.

The Pyramid of Caio Cestio, as it is officially called, was constructed in the year 12 BC and was built as a tomb to the magistrate Caius Cestius.

Unfortunately little is known of Caio Cestio himself (except that he must have been a wealthy man), since the pyramid was plundered in the course of the centuries.

Its height is around 36 m and it has a width of almost 30 m. The initial impression is that it is smaller than that, but that is because the streets around it were built at a higher level.

It is made of brick and mortar, covered with a layer of marble from Carrara.

An inscription on the outer wall of the pyramid indicates that construction took 330 days. Later it was incorporated in the Aurelian walls.

Nowadays the pyramid, which displays some interesting frescoes on the inner walls of the burial chamber (only discovered in 1660), can also be visited, but only as part of a guided tour and only after having made a reservation beforehand.

Piazzale Ostiense – Rome

ACEA Fountain Rome

The Fontana dell’ACEA is located in front of the ACEA (a water and electricity company) building in Rome and is one of the most recently constructed fountains in Rome.

ACEA Fountain Rome

ACEA FountainIt was built in 1962, after a design by the architects Ugo Macri, Giorgio Quaroni and Americo Romitelli, the winners of an architectural competition.

The Fontana dell’ACEA is at its most beautiful in the evening thanks to a tastefully organized illumination. The fountain is characterized by water falling from vertical structures that are decorated with bas-reliefs.

The ACEA fountain is still supplied with water from the Acquedotto Marcio, one of Rome’s ancient aqueducts.

Piazzale Ostiense – Rome

Centrale Montemartini Rome

The Centrale Montemartini is located in the Ostiense district of Rome, in a building that used to house the city’s first electrical power station. It is one of Rome’s most unusual and interesting museums thanks to the contrast between the bulky modern machines and the more than 400 classical statues that are part of its permanent collection.

Centrale Montemartini Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

The Centrale Montemartini is an extension of the Capitoline Museums. The address is Via Ostiense, 106 – Rome (tel. +39 060608). Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 09.00 to 19.00 (24 and 31 December till 14.00). Closed: Monday, 1 January, 1 May, 25 December. Admission: 7,50 Euros (reduction: 6,50 Euros). Combi-ticket Capitoline Museums + Centrale Montemartini: 12,50 Euros (reduction 10,50 Euro). Rome residents pay 1 Euro less. Roma Pass is valid.

Centrale Montemartini Highlights

Centrale Montemartini Rome
Centrale Montemartini

The contrast is directly evident in the museum’s main gallery, where two enormous (1933) diesel motors are flanked by marble statues that used to adorn Roman temples.

One special section shows artifacts that were found on the former grounds of many of Rome’s ancient villas and gardens, such as the Gardens of Sallust.

The ground floor exhibits Etruscan decorations that were found in various temples and tombs

The impressive mosaic of the hunting party was found near Porta Maggiore.

There are several sculptures depicting the Greeks battling the Amazons. These were taken from the Temple of Apollo Sosianus.

The Togato Barberini depicts the Republic Senator showing his ancestors’ busts.

Via Ostiense, 106 – Rome

Ponte Marconi Rome

Ponte Guglielmo Marconi, or simply Ponte Marconi, is a Roman bridge connecting the Piazza Augusto Righi (Ostiense district) to the Piazza Thomas Edison (Portuense district).

Ponte Marconi Rome

The Ponte Marconi is Rome‘s longest bridge (235m) and has a width of more than 31m.

Construction was started in 1937, the year the Italian scientist Guglielmo Marconi died, but was interrupted during World War II, only to be restarted long after the end of the war, in 1953. The work was finished in 1955.

It was built with the aim of creating a quick connection from Trastevere to the EUR quarter.

Ponte Marconi – Rome

Ostiense District Rome

Rome‘s 10th quartiere is called Ostiense and is named for the Via Ostiense.

Ostiense District Rome (Q. X)

The most important tourist attraction in the area is the beautiful Basilica of Saint Paul’s Outside The Walls (San Paolo Fuori le Mura).

The railway station Ostiense also lies in the quartiere. From this station there is a cheaper train to the international airport of Fiumicino than the Leonardo Express from Termini.

Quartiere Ostiense (Q. X)