Ravenna, the capital of mosaics

You must know Ravenna for many different reasons. For its art and its history first that are represented by its mosaics and Byzantine past that left amazing monuments eight of which are protected by Unesco. The town is famous for its mosaics at an International level, the cathedral of S. Vitale, the cathedral of S. Apollinare Nuovo – probably the most important Imperial Paleochristian monument in the Roman world and the cathedral of S. Apollinare in Classe.

One of the best masterpieces belonging to the town’s architecture is the cathedral of San Vitale, a Byzantine construction whose façade is covered with red bricks that show simplicity and austerity in opposition with the richness of its interior mosaics and marble elements. Sant’Apollinare in Classe dates back to the Byzantine historical period as well and it represents one of the most evident example of the Reconquest of Ravenna by the Eastern Empire. The Church has a very spacious nave with side aisles and twenty-four marble columns topped with Byzantine capitals carved with Acanthus leaves and the mosaic located in the middle of the main apse shows the Transfiguration of Christ. Erected by Theodoric, the church of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo is the oldest church in the city and it is dedicated to the Catholic worship in 560 A.D. and the mosaics on its walls show some episodes from the life of Christ. In the same period, between the Vth and the VIth century A.D. the Mausoleum of Theodoric was erected in honour of the great Gothic King and built with limestone imported from Istria and roofed with a remarkable monolithic dome of eleven metres of diameter. Another interesting monument is the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia – the Emperor Onorio’s sister who moved the capital of the Western Roman Empire from Milan to Ravenna– its interior is decorated with a series of mosaics among the most ancient ones in the city.

The last “unmissable” stop for the ones who visit the town is the grave of Dante Alighieri, located in the central part of the city next to the Church of San Francesco. Elected as the capital of the European Culture for the year 2019, Ravenna keeps on seeking for its past that has recently produced an important discovery: a Roman domus dating back to the Imperial period that is decorated with mosaic floors. An art collection that is exhibited at the Tamo museum where you can go through the whole history of the mosaic from Ravenna.

Luciana Francesca Rebonato

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