A cultural trip to Ravenna should definitely include a visit to the early Christian monuments and mosaics realized among the 5th and the 8th century.
Eight buildings – the Neonian Baptistery, the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe, the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, the Arian Baptistery, the Mausoleum of Theodoric, the Church of San Vitale, the Archiepiscopal Chapel and the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia – are now inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List for a unique treasure of mosaic art enriches their interiors and show how religion could influence artistic world.
The Mosaics Of Ravenna
It has been made such an abundant use of this artistic technique, that Ravenna is commonly known as the “city of mosaic”.
The mosaic art in Ravenna have a clear influence from the Byzantine culture and the Christianity. Then great works can be seen at the Basilica di San Vitale, such as an outstanding portrait of Emperor Justinian and a portrait of Jesus Christ in the Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo.
Moreover, every year you can take part to the night festival Mosaico di Notte – which entertains visitors with guided tours of buildings concealing mosaics and performances of poets and musicians – and to the International Mosaic Festival, which promotes contemporary mosaic works.
The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia
One of the most important examples of Paleochristian architecture in Ravenna is the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, which honours the memory of the Empress who lived at the time when the city was the Western Roman Empire capital. The monument is situated on the backyard of the Basilica di San Vitale, an important Paleochristian and Byzantine church famous for its great mosaics.
Once you reach Via San Vitale, turn on Via degli Ariani and you will find a simple building made of bricks. At first glance you wouldn’t realize why it is a must-see attraction in Ravenna, but after you enter the small door, you will be surprised by the stunning view of the majestic mosaics decorating the inside walls.
Your attention will be soon caught by the wonderful blue sky mosaic full of thousands stars on the vault. Then you will notice the impressive mosaic of the Good Shepherd framed by an arch. On the other walls you can see other symbols of Christianity as a saint – probably Saint Lawrence who was martyred for its faith – the four gospels and the apostles pictured in mosaics. The chapel has three niches which host the sarcophagi of Constantius III, Valentinian III and a Roman noble man.
Built in 430 AD to be an oratory, Galla Placidia was never buried there but the Masousoleum was rightly entitled to Empress who commissioned the construction. During the reign of Galla Placidia, Ravenna become an important place and often represented religion through art. That is evident in the themes of the mosaics that you can see if you do a cultural and artistic tour in Ravenna.
Many important personalities such as Boccaccio, Gustav Klimt and Cole Porter fell in love with this extraordinary city of Emilia Romagna by the Adriatic Sea.
Come and see why during your holidays in Ravenna – European Cultural Capital to be in 2019!