on August 21, 2012
When I bought a map of Rome centre this basilica was barely visible on the edge of the map, however there was a stop on the metro of the same name, so I decided it must be of some importance, so we popped off the metro at the station and went looking.It turned out to be a two or three minute walk from the station, and it's clear to see why it has it's own stop.Whilst in no way as big as St.Peter's Basilica, it is a large church, one of the four biggest in the city I am led to believe.As with many of the churches in Rome, shorts and skimpy t-shirts are not acceptable dress, however, unlike at St.Peter's, the guard on the door didn't seem as concerned about it.The church has a huge nave, highly decorated as you can imagine, with an amazingly ornate ceiling, a mosaic approximately 25 meters high, marble, malachite and lapis lazuli galore.The central feature inside is the tomb of St Paul (one of the Apostles). You can walk down a few stairs (oddly named the Altars of Confession) and kneel in front of the sarcophagus. You can only see one of the narrow ends of the marble sarcophagus. Being non religious I presumed at first, that due to the name it was where the faithful made their confessions, it was only after reading the information that I realised it was a tomb.The interior of the church is beautiful, but the exterior is also lovely. There is a lush green area at the front, which might not seem like much, but it was the most greenery we saw during our entire week in Rome. In the centre is a statue of St Paul, and around the atrium there are the marble columns generally associated with all things Roman.Looking straight up from the the statue is an amazing mosaic which is difficult to describe in words, but I have added a photograph for you to see the beauty of it.Away from the religious aspects there is a small cafe and a gift shop. The cafe sells drinks and sandwiches, baguettes and pizza slices, as well as a selection of cakes. It is air conditioned, so a nice break from the heat. The gift shop sells a fairly standard range, ranging from fridge magnets to liqueurs.Entry of course is free, and visiting is highly recommended.
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009