The church was erected starting with 398 by the Roman senator Byzantis on the site of an ancient structure dating back to the first century AD.
The church was used first as a domus ecclesiae (house church) by a Christian community, and then, according to tradition, became the burial ground of the Saints John and Paul, who were martyred during the reign of the emperor Flavius Claudius Julianus.
In 410, the church was damaged by the Visigoths of Alaric I, during the sack of Rome, then by an earthquake in 442, and was finally destroyed by the Normans in 1084.
In the 12th century, Pope Paschal II restored the church, and built the bell-tower and the portico. The structure was remodeled again in the following centuries.
The church took on its current appearance in 1951, when Cardinal Francis Joseph Spellman had the facade restored.
The facade of the church is characterized by a portico along its entire width. Above the portico, only the upper part of the central nave is visible, with five arches delimited by Corinthian columns.
The interior of the church has three naves, and is divided by pillars flanked by columns. The main nave is 44 meters long and 15 meters wide. The lateral naves are each about 7 meters wide. The naves are separated by twelve columns that support thirteen arches.
At the end of the right aisle, there is the access to the underground rooms of the basilica, discovered in 1887 by Father Germano da San Stanislao, who was looking for the tomb of the martyrs John and Paul. Here, there are twenty painted rooms, belonging to different buildings dated between the 1st and 4th centuries.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo al Celio is located about 700 meters away from the Circo Massimo Metro station, on the Metro Line B. The closest bus stop is located about 350 meters away, in Via Claudia, on the bus Line 81.
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