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.

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Popes’ likenesses on the friezes

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

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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.

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The facade and statue of St. Paul

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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.

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The beautiful colonnade and what I assume are marble floors

Fifth, the stucco ceilings which are so beautifully decorated.

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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.

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

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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?

“Moses Wuz Here” – Mt. Nebo, Jordan

Mt. Nebo, Jordan, tourism, photo, child, Canon EOS Rebel

Show me the way to the Promised Land, said Moses

Mt. Nebo is located on what seems to be an area north of the Dead Sea that sits high on a ridge and, according to the Bible, is the place where Moses was allowed to see the Promised Land he would never enter (after guiding his people out of Egypt for 40 years!).

Moses, Mt. Nebo, Jordan, tourism, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

Moses, I suppose

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Today, without Moses around, this sign does the job of pointing to the Promised Land

Mt. Nebo overlooks the valley of the River Jordan and one can glimpse Jericho and Jerusalem to the west on a good day.  The site was visited by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI at some point giving the site an added level of credibility if you will, as a site of religious importance.

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Welcome to Mt. Nebo!

It is also claimed Moses is buried there but there is no conclusive evidence (as conclusive as one may expect a few thousand years later…).  Whether any of this interests you or not, the views of the valley below are certainly worth it.

IMG_0723

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Some of the view

The visit

There was a small temporary-looking exhibit at the site showing some of the beautiful mosaics of the remains of a church found in the first half of the 20th century on Mt. Nebo.  It really makes you ponder the history of the place and the area and all the events it has witnessed over time.

Mount Nebo, Jordan, mosaic, Moses, history, religion, archeology, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

Part of the mosaics

Mount Nebo, Jordan, mosaic, Moses, history, religion, archeology, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

Color manages to survive close to two millenia

Mount Nebo, Jordan, mosaic, Moses, history, religion, archeology, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

Up close and personal

The place is crowded with tourists of all ages and that takes away for sure from the importance of the place.  Perhaps some construction during the time of my visit contributed to the small chaos, though there were moments when I was glad there was chaos and a crowd…

Mt. Nebo, Jordan, tourism, photo, children, Canon EOS Rebel

Young Mt. Nebo visitors

Mt. Nebo, Jordan, tourism, photo, child, Canon EOS Rebel

Another schoolkid visiting the site

I was patient, though, and I was rewarded when the key spot where Moses stood cleared up for a good 5 minute and I was able to soak it all in better during that pause in the visitors.

Let ME show you the Promised Land

So, in case you have not been there, allow me show you the Promised Land!

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“Over yonder!” says this modern-day Moses-wanna-be

 

During this trip, I was a guest of the Jordan Tourism Board.  That notwithstanding, the stories I share were my real experiences and nothing else.  As they always are!

Photo Essay – Colors of Jordan

Desert road Jordan

Before my trip to Jordan, I had this mental image that Jordan was mostly a desert. I knew Jordan faced the Gulf of Aqaba and the Dead Sea and I recalled from my quick visit to Petra (on a day trip from Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt), that Petra would have some reddish color to it. But it’s like, if I thought how Jordan would look like, I would have said “fairly mono-chromatic”.

OK, I exaggerate a little.  But the range of vivid colors I encountered during my visit became quite apparent once I was home walking through each of the 3,000+ pictures I took during my 9 days there (yes, quite a few were duplicates as I tried different settings and angles for a given “scene”; so far I am down to around 2,000).  What I found out is that that desert color was a perfect background for all the others colors to pop.  And pop they did!

So, I have decided to share where I found color that caught my eye that will, hopefully, give you a glimpse into Jordan!  When you are done, I would love to hear back from you on which of these photos you like the most (photos are numbered for ease of reference!).

I found color in the landscapes in Jordan…

Much as I had experienced back in 1998, I got to see the colors typically associated with deserts.  But on this trip, I also saw the color of canyons and gorges.  White, sand, red – all colors represented in the landscape around me as I hope the following pictures show…

Desert road Jordan

1. On the way to Mt. Nebo from Mardaba – sand color everywhere except the asphalt

Sand dune Wadi Rum Jordan

2. Shifting sands in the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan

Wadi between Dana and Feynan, Jordan Olympus

3. Canyon we hiked through from Dana to Feynan – great mix of white and red with specks of green on the mountains around us

Canyon walls in Petra Jordan with Canon Rebel

4. Colorful canyon walls in Petra, Jordan!

Colorful canyon walls in Petra, Jordan Canon Rebel

5. More colorful canyon walls in Petra, Jordan

Colorful rocks in Wadi Mujib, Jordan Olympus camera

6. Colorful rocks in the waters of Wadi Mujib, Jordan

Colorful rocks in Wadi Mujib, Jordan Olympus camera

7. Colorful rocks in the walls Wadi Mujib, Jordan

I found color in the markets of Jordan…

Jewelry sold by folks around Petra, Jordan

8. Jewelry sold by folks around Petra

Camels with color in Jordan

9. Who knew camels would be so colorful!

Arab headscarves in Jordan Canon Rebel

10. Headscarves in the traditional colors worn by many around Jordan

Fruits in the fruit stands in the market in Amman, Jordan Canon Rebel

11. Fruits in the fruit stands in the market in Amman, Jordan

Colorful market roof in the Amman, Jordan market Canon Rebel

12. Colorful market roof in the Amman, Jordan market

I found color in the architecture – old and new – in Jordan…

Ruins column Jerash Roman Jordan

13.  Color of old ruins in the Greco-Roman town of Jerash, Jordan

Ruins Jerash column blue sky Jordan

14.  A still-standing column in Jerash makes a great contrast with the perfectly blue sky

King Abdullah Mosque blue Amman, Jordan

15.  The blues of the dome of King Abdullah’s Mosque (the Blue Mosque) of Amman and the blue of the sky

Inside view of the dome of King Abdullah's Mosque in Amman, Jordan (blue mosque)

16.  Inside view of the dome of King Abdullah’s Mosque (built in the 1980s)

Petra's Treasury in Jordan

17.  The unforgettable Treasury at Petra, Jordan

I found great blues in the waters around Jordan…

Blue sky and Dead Sea

18. A sea and a sky both drapped in great blue!

Beautiful blues in the waters of the Gulf of Aqaba, Olympus

19.  Beautiful blues in the waters of the Gulf of Aqaba

I found color in sunsets over the Dead Sea…

Sunset over the Dead Sea in Jordan, Canon EOS Rebel

20.  Sunset over the Dead Sea in Jordan

Sunset over the Dead Sea in Jordan, Olympus

21.  Double sunset over the Dead Sea in Jordan

Sunset over the Dead Sea in Jordan, Canon EOS Rebel

22.  Sunset over the Dead Sea in Jordan

I found color in Jordanian artisans’ art…

Raw material for creation of mosaic art in workshop in Jordan

23.  The raw materials that will create beautiful mosaics are colorful on their own…

Mosaic art Jordan

24. Mosaic art: not only the great colors but also the shapes draw me

Art handicraft craft Jordan

25.  Beautiful art in this colorful vase

And I found a colorful people in Jordan!

Schoolchildren in Jerash, Jordan

26.  Schoolchildren visiting the ruins of Jerash – singing and showing their pride in their country – a colorful bunch!

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Thank you to the Jordan Tourism Board for showing me all the colors in Jordan.

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