Once the largest basilica in the world, the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls is one of four papal basilicas in Rome and among the city’s most important Christian sites. Presumed to be set over the tomb of St. Paul, the church has a striking interior decorated with 80 columns and extensive mosaics.
As a papal basilica, the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls (San Paolo Fuori Le Mura) belongs to the Vatican—though is not located within the confines of Vatican City—and plays an important role in Catholic jubilee celebrations. In addition to the 19th-century church with its magnificent Gothic baldachin by Arnolfo di Cambio, the complex has a beautiful 13th-century Romanesque cloister built by the Vassalletto family, and an art gallery with some of the works that once decorated the basilica.
The Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls is a highlight of guided tours of Rome’s major basilicas and early-Christian holy sites, along with St. Peter’s Basilica, Saint John Lateran, and Santa Maria Maggiore.
Things to Know Before You Go
- If taking a Christian Rome walking tour, wear comfortable shoes and sun protection, as there is a lot of ground to cover.
- Catholic churches have a strict dress code, so wear clothing that covers knees and shoulders.
- Photography without flash is permitted inside the church.
- The basilica, cloister, and art gallery are fully accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
How to Get There
Rome’s Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls is located on Via Ostiense, just a short walk from the San Paolo Basilica stop on metro line B.
When to Get There
St. Paul Outside the Walls is one of Italy’s most important Catholic churches, and attracts the most visitors around Easter and Christmas, and on jubilee years.
Above the arches that divide the naves at Saint Paul Outside the Walls, there is a row of mosaic medallions depicting each pope from Saint Peter to Pope Francis—the only portrait illuminated, which signifies Francis’ role as the current leader of the Catholic Church.