St. Paul Outside the Walls: One of Rome’s Less Seen Basilicas

Rome, St. Paul, Outside The Walls, fuori le mura, major basilica, Catholic Church, travel, photo, Italy,, tabernacle, mosaic

As one may expect, Rome does not lack in the church category.  All types and sizes up to the best know, St. Peter’s Basilica in The Vatican.  However, there are three other major basilicas in Rome:  St. John Lateran (first among the four for being the oldest), Saint Mary Major (Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore), and St. Paul Outside the Walls (Basilica Papale di San Paolo fuori le Mura)As the term “major basilica” implies, they are of high importance to the Catholic Church and any other basilica is just “a” basilica or a minor basilica.

As with St. Peter’s and St. Peter, St. Paul Outside the Walls was built is on top of the site where St. Paul was buried.  The original church was built in the fourth century and it got built on and modified up until the nineteenth century when a fire destroyed a good bit of it and it got reconstructed.  The modifications it went through in those 1400 years were done for different reasons:  fortifying it against potential invaders, repairing damage, beautifying it, or simply making it larger.

Of the original church only a couple of things remain (the triumphal arch with its fifth century mosaics, and part of the apse).  But it was other details that grabbed my attention.

First, was the images of all the Popes right above the top of the columns.  It really gives a great sense of the longevity of the Church.

Rome, St. Paul, Outside The Walls, fuori le mura, major basilica, Catholic Church, St. Paul's chain, colonnade, travel, photo, Italy,

Popes’ likenesses on the friezes

Second, how uninviting the exterior is (at least on the sides), hiding the interior beauty of this church.

Rome, St. Paul, Outside The Walls, fuori le mura, major basilica, Catholic Church, St. Paul's chain, colonnade, travel, photo, Italy,

Exterior of the basilica

Third, to me it seem a different style of architecture for a church.  I suppose this derives from the fact that its design goes back to a very old design even if it was modified through the centuries.  So it may not be a design that is odd but one that I am not familiar with.

St. Paul Outside the Walls, facade, Rome, Italy, Catholic Church, major basilica, statue, mosaics, photo, travel

The facade and statue of St. Paul

St. Paul Outside the Walls, facade, Rome, Italy, Catholic Church, major basilica, statue, mosaics, photo, travel, colonnade, columns

Colonnade to the side of the basilica’s facade; note the garden that sits in front of the facade.

Fourth, the colonnade inside the church (around 80 columns is pretty spectacular.

Rome, St. Paul, Outside The Walls, fuori le mura, major basilica, Catholic Church, colonnade, travel, photo, Italy,

The beautiful colonnade and what I assume are marble floors

Fifth, the stucco ceilings which are so beautifully decorated.

Rome, St. Paul, Outside The Walls, fuori le mura, major basilica, Catholic Church, travel, photo, Italy,, ceiling, stucco

Some of the beautiful ceilings at SPOTW

Rome, St. Paul, Outside The Walls, fuori le mura, major basilica, Catholic Church, travel, photo, Italy,, ceiling, stucco

Some of the beautiful ceilings at SPOTW

Finally, the altar and the tabernacle on it are beautiful crowns over the tomb of St. Paul.  One can take a few stops down to see the chains that held St. Paul prisoner in Rome.

Rome, St. Paul, Outside The Walls, fuori le mura, major basilica, Catholic Church, travel, photo, Italy,, tabernacle, mosaic

Tabernacle at the altar, and, in the background, mosaics dating from the 13th century

Rome, St. Paul, Outside The Walls, fuori le mura, major basilica, Catholic Church, travel, photo, Italy,, tabernacle, stucco ceiling

Top of the tabernacle and the ceiling in the background

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St. Paul’s chains

St. Paul Outside the Walls is away from the beaten path of central Rome that most tourists stick to but it is an easy subway ride from that part of Rome.  Whether due to your faith, your interest in architecture, simple curiosity or only trying to get away from the crowds, it is well worth checking out.

What lesser known bits of Rome have you visited?  Any recommendations?

Finding a Gem in Chicago – The Palmer House

I discovered a hidden gem in Chicago:  The Palmer House!  After the neat architecture boat tour of the city that my fellow travel bloggers and I did in our tweeetup, and after walking through Millenium Park admiring the Cloud Gate, the water statues (whatever they are called), etc., one of our local tweetuppers suggested that we headed to the Palmer House to give our legs a rest and have a drink in a unique place in Chicago.

Of course, that sounded good to all of us so we said yes not fully knowing what to expect (blessed ignorance!).  We were in for a REAL treat.  The Palmer House has one of the more elegant hotel lobbies I have seen in a while!  Sitting there to have drinks (and people watch) was a nice break from the more visitor sightseeing we had done that day.  It was elegant, magnificent, and alive – tons of people either for the wedding receptions going on, guests of the hotel, or short-term visitors like us.  It is the third reincarnation of the hotel originally built by someone rich for his bride-to-be.  The first building burned down in the famous Chicago fire days after opening…

Chicago's Palmer House bar

The ceiling of that lobby area is a delight to look at and, to me, the centerpiece of the place.  It reminds me of the ceilings around the Vatican Museum or The Hermitage in St. Petersburg.  I wish I knew where exactly the building’s architect/designer got their inspiration from.  I felt a little inspired myself…

Chicago's Palmer House lobby

Chicago's Palmer House ceiling

… so I ordered rye Old Fashioned.  No, the drink is not on the ceiling but on a mirror-top table – it made for a great contrast with the ceiling as well as for some neat pix of the folks around the table.

Drink and ceiling at Chicago's Palmer House

While it was definitely great to discover a gem like this without any research (thanks Pola from @jettingaround!), it does highlight a couple of things:

1.  Serendipity can lead to great experiences – not having hard plans for every hour of the afternoon, we allowed for opportunities like this to come based on the mood of the moment; or serendipity in other cases can be just simply meandering the lesser streets in a city and pop in to any establishment that catches your eye!

2.  Locals can give you some of the best insights on those places off the beaten path!

I don’t know that we found this gem.  I certainly didn’t find it.  But it “found” me!  If you ever go to Chicago, put this on your list of places to sit at and chill – and admire.

Read more about the good times we had in Chicago and how I got to high places.

Do you know other gems like this in Chicago?  Please share!

Ceilings of the Vatican and Rome

My post on the ceilings from The Hermitage in St. Petersburg seems to have received a good level of interest so I thought I’d do another from my recent trip to Rome.  Enjoy!

St. Mary of the Angels and Martyrs (Rome, near Piazza della Republicca)

St. Paul Outside the Walls (Holy See outside of the Vatican)

St. Paul Outside the Walls, Rome, Italy

St. Paul Outside the Walls, Rome, Italy
St. John Lateran (Holy See outside of the Vatican)

St. John Lateran, Rome, Italy

St. John Lateran, Rome, Italy

 

Pantheon (Rome)

Pantheon, Rome, Italy

 

Vatican Museums (Vatican)

Vatican Museum ceilng, Rome, Italy

Vatican Museum ceiling, Rome, Italy

Vatican Museum ceiling, Rome, Italy

The Awesome Ceilings of The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia

Ceilings of The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia

The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia is a fabulous building (actually a series of connected buildings, one of which is the “real” Hermitage).  The museum contains, of course, great pieces of art.  It is also a historical site having being built in 1764 by Catherine the Great as the Winter Palace (more about the Winter Palace:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermitage_Museum).  But it is definitely an architectural jewel.

In another post I shared pictures of the spectacular chandeliers.  Here I would like to focus on theceilings.  I do not think I have seen ceilings like these in other European palaces, though perhaps it is more that the style of these ceilings is more to my taste not because other palaces’ ceilings are not spectacular in their own right.

Ceilings of The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia

Ceilings of The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia

Ceilings of The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia

Ceilings of The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia

Ceilings of The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia

Ceilings of The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia

Ceilings of The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia

Chandeliers of The Hermitage

Chandelier in The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia

While I am not obsessed with chandeliers and the like, I noticed after getting home from visiting St. Pete (as I call it), how many pictures of chandeliers I took at The Hermitage (and of the ceilings).  They are definitely elegant but their designs were not too stuffy.  Not being a connoisseur, but still having opinions, I would say they were made to be interesting not over-bearing.  (Click on the picture to see a larger version.)

Any experts out there who can enrich the readers??

 

 

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