St Paul’s Gate/ Museum of the Ostian Way, Pyramid of Cestius

Porta San Paolo/ Museo Della Via Ostiense, Piramide di Caio Cestio

Porta San Paolo is a part of the 3rd century Aurelian Walls. The original name of the gate was Porta Ostenis, as Via Ostiense road, connecting Rome with Ostia and the ancient harbor, started at the gate. The Aurelian Walls was 18 km long enclosed all seven hills of Rome and had about 383 towers. Some parts of the wall survived almost intact to our days. As the harbor lost its importance in the life of the city, the gate was also used less. However, the gate attracted attention again, when it was discovered that Apostle Paul was led to execution through that gate. Today the gate leads to one of the seven main Roman basilicas, San Paolo Fuori le Mura (St Paul's Outside the Walls), which is believed to be erected over the Apostle’s burial place. The gate got the name of San Paolo.

There is the Museum of the Ostian Way inside, where you can see objects discovered during the excavations at Via Ostiense, as well as models of the ancient Ostia harbor and the Ostia city. In front of the gate there is the Pyramid of Cestius, built in the XII century BC for Caius Cestius Epulon, the member of one of the four great collegiums of priests in Rome. The pyramid was constructed within the shortest period of time (330 days), in accordance with the will of Cestius. If his heirs had failed to finish the pyramid in time, they would never get the huge fortune. The name and titles of Cestius were engraved on the walls of the 6 by 4 m crypt, frescoes were painted on the walls and two statues depicting the dead man were installed. The pyramid entrance was sealed, and this 37 m high building thrilled the locals for several centuries. During the excavation works of the XVII century the pyramid was entered and surveys of the interiors were conducted. The English poets Shelley and Keats, and the Russian painter Karl Bryullov are buried near the Pyramid in the protestant cemetery.

Address: Via Raffaele Persichetti, 3
Opening hours: museum Tue-Sun 9 am – 1.30 pm, Mon – closed, 25 Dec, 1 Jan and 1 May closed; no admission fee; Pyramid 2 and 4 Sat of the month 10 am – 12 pm only on accompanied or guided tours.On the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month, the ticket of the Museum of the Ostian Way also allows admission to the Pyramid, by means of an accompanied tour leaving at 10.30. Booking is mandatory.
How to reach: Piramide
Coordinates: 41.876441, 12.480881