The Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (San Paolo fuori le Mura) is one of the four papal basilicas, located in Rome. However, it is a property of the Vatican having an extraterritorial status. St. Paul is buried inside the temple.
The first basilica was erected on that site between 386 and 440. It consisted of five naves and its frontal part was preceded with atrium. It was constructed in the place where St. Paul had been buried by St. Lucy. According to a legend he was beheaded three kilometres from that spot but his head bounced threefold off the ground and three drops of water spurted from it. Initially, there was a chapel constructed over the tomb, which lasted till the middle of the 5th century when the temple was build. On 15 July 1823 fire spread over the temple destroying it entirely. The basilica was reconstructed retaining its original shape. It was reconsecrated in 1854.
In front of the temple there is a courtyard surrounded with a colonnade in centre of which was a sculpture located representing St. Paul wit a sword. A façade with a gilded mosaic has a covered vestibule. Between windows there are images of the saints: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel with a symbol of the Four Gospel above them(a herd drinking water from four rivers accompanied by the Lamb of God). On a tympanum there is a mosaic depicting Jesus Christ sitting on a throne in the company of Peter and Paul. The Holy Gate, which is open during a jubilee of the Holy Year, is located on the right side. It is a copy of the door which were placed inside the burnt basilica and were reconstructed in 1967. Inside the temple there are 80 columns which divide it into five aisles. The tomb of St. Paul is located in the end of the main nave. It is covered with a canopy. During the period of the early Christianity there was a custom of burying the dead near the saints, that is why next to the tomb many other graves. An arch above the canopy is adorned with a mosaic with image of the Saviour and patriarchs. The walls along naves are decorated with medallions in a row with pictures of all popes, from St. Peter to Benedict XVI.
Near the church there is a monastery of Benedictine monks, living there since the 8th century. Its courtyard is surrounded with cloisters from the 13th century, similar to the ones from the monastery of St. John Lateran as both were created by the house of Cosmati. They are characterised by slender columns with sculptured and slightly convolute grooves on their shafts, frequently covered with mosaics.