Originally founded by the Roman Emperor Constantine in the 4th century, over the burial place of Saint Paul, where it was said that, after the Apostle's execution, his followers erected a memorial, called a cella memoriae.
In 386 Emperor Theodosius demolished the original small church and began the construction of a second basilica possessing the same shape and dimensions as today's basilica.
Today the church is in its modern replacement, with a large quadrangle with a central statue of St. Paul, introducing the five-aisled basilica.The nave eighteenth century appearance, is divided by eighty massive columns of granite and has a coffered ceiling and an ornament in mosaic, which also runs along the side aisles, with portraits of the popes from St. Peter to this day. To the right of the main door is opened the Holy Door, closed by bronze doors dating from the eleventh century, decorated with scenes from the Old and New Testament, which is only open during the Jubilee. Among the four chapels flanking the apse of the most important is the Blessed Sacrament chapel, decorated by Carlo Maderno . Interesting, then, is the cloister (early thirteenth century) works partly Vassalletto, with a similar structure to that of Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano even if small.