During the night of July 15th, 1823, a fire broke out in the roof of the church of San Paolo fuori le Mura (St Paul Outside the Walls), almost completely destroying the ancient basilica. Thankfully, its beautiful medieval cloister survived the conflagration.
The cloister was begun under Abbot Pietro da Capua and finished after 1228. It was created, at least in part, by the Vassalletto family, Roman sculptors who also worked on the cloister of the church of San Giovanni in Laterano (St John Lateran). The cloister walks have coupled colonnettes, some of which are decorated with Cosmati work.
Following the fire, St Paul Outside the Walls, which is the second largest church in Rome and one of the city's four papal basilicas, was rebuilt. In plan and dimensions (if not in spirit), the new church is a copy of the old one.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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