The Glistening Mosaics in Ravenna are Amazing: UNESCO Sites in Italy

The 6th century Byzantine mosaic in the apse o...
Image via Wikipedia
Mausoleum der Galla Placidia in Ravenna, Italien.

Mausoleum der Galla Placidia in Ravenna, Italien. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Facade of the Basilica of Sant'Apolli...

English: Facade of the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy. Italiano: Facciata della basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo a Ravenna. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: 6th century Byzantine mosaic in the a...

English: 6th century Byzantine mosaic in the apse of the basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe (Ravenna, Italy) Italiano: Mosaico bizantino nel catino absidale di Sant’Apollinare in Classe a Ravenna (secolo VI). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Saint Apollinaris, first bishop of Ravenna. De...

Saint Apollinaris, first bishop of Ravenna. Detail from the 6th century Byzantine mosaic in the apse of the basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Make plans to visit Ravenna if you want to see amazing glistening mosaics.

“It has a unique collection of early Christian mosaics and monuments. All eight buildings – the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, the Neonian Baptistery, the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, the Arian Baptistery, the Archiepiscopal Chapel, the Mausoleum of Theodoric, the Church of San Vitale and the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe – were constructed in the 5th and 6th centuries. They show great artistic skill, including a wonderful blend of Graeco-Roman tradition, Christian iconography and oriental and Western styles.” UNESCO

English: Mosaic in basilica of Sant'Apollinare...

English: Mosaic in basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe (Ravenna) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, ...

Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy: The Three Wise Men” (named Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar). Detail from: “Mary and Child, surrounded by angels”, mosaic of a Ravennate italian-byzantine workshop, completed within 526 AD by the so-called “Master of Sant’Apollinare”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo (mo...

English: Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo (mosaic of Justinian I) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Baroque side chapel in the byzantine ...

English: Baroque side chapel in the byzantine basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy. Italiano: Cappella laterale barocca nella basilica bizantina di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo a Ravenna. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Mausoleum of Theodoric in Ravenna is the o...

The Mausoleum of Theodoric in Ravenna is the only extant example of Ostrogothic architecture. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Em...

Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy. Mosaics along the north side of the nave. Upper register: scenes from the life of Christ. Intermediate register: saints and prophets. Lower register, from left to right: the virgin martyrs, the three Wise Men, Madonna and Child between four angels. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Good Shepherd, mosaic in Mausoleum of Gall...

The Good Shepherd, mosaic in Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna, 1st half of 5th century (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Church tower of the Basilica of Sant'...

English: Church tower of the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy. Italiano: Campanile rotondo della basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo a Ravenna. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Main nave of the byzantine basilica o...

English: Main nave of the byzantine basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy, shiowing the mosaic of the “Procession of the Saint martyrs”. Italiano: Navata della basilica bizantina di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo a Ravenna, con il mosaico della Processione dei santi martiri. 日本語: サンタポリナーレ・ヌオヴォ聖堂内部 投稿者撮影。 Category:イタリア画像. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in ...

English: Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy: “Christ surrounded by angels and saints”. Mosaic of a Ravennate italian-byzantine workshop, completed within 526 AD by the so-called “Master of Sant’Apollinare”. Italiano: Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo a Ravenna: “Cristo attorniato da angeli e santi”. Mosaico di scuola ravennate italo-bizantina, completato entro il 526 d.C. dal cosiddetto “maestro di Sant’Apollinare”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ravenna Italy

Ravenna Italy

English: Cross. Detail from the 6th century By...

English: Cross. Detail from the 6th century Byzantine mosaic in the apse of the basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe (Ravenna, Italy) Italiano: Croce gemmata. Particolare del mosaico bizantino nel catino absidale di Sant’Apollinare in Classe a Ravenna (secolo VI). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Built in 548 A.D. The sights of Raven...

English: Built in 548 A.D. The sights of Ravenna are mostly from the period when Ravenna was the capital of the Western Roman Empire. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prepare to be awe-struck by the amazing glistening mosaics in Ravenna! Ravenna, a UNESCO site in Italy,  houses early Christian Monuments in the Romagna Region www.turismoravenna.it .

Ravenna was initially the seat of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, the Visigoth Empire and finally the Byzantine Italian Empire under Emperor Justinian and Empress Theodora until the 8th century.  Ravenna was the capital of the Western Roman Empire for 150 years.

In 402 A.D., the Roman Emperor Honorius transferred the Western Roman Empire from Milan to Ravenna for security purposes and the city engaged in a imperial face-lift. The Galla Placidia Mausoleum was built in the 5th century as a family tomb by the Empress with magnificent mosaics in gold and peacock blue. When Cole Porter was on his honeymoon in Ravenna, he was so moved by the mosaics that he wrote the legendary song “Night and Day” about the 900 glistening stars in the copula.

Ravenna

Ravenna

Italy 2013 Summer with Kids 902 Italy 2013 Summer with Kids 929

Ravenna Italy

Ravenna Italy

Here’s the UNESCO Long Description of each building in Ravenna:

“The early Christian religious monuments in Ravenna are of outstanding significance by virtue of the supreme artistry of the mosaic art that they contain, and also because of the crucial evidence that they provide of artistic and religious relationships and contacts at an important period of European cultural history.

In the reign of Augustus the port of Classis was established at Ravenna. Following the barbarian invasions of the 5th century, Honorius made it his capital. His sister, Galla Placidia, lived in Ravenna during her widowhood in the first half of the 5th century, and made it a centre of Christian art and culture. With the deposition of Romulus Augustulus in 476, Ravenna entered into a period of prosperity and influence. It was taken by Belisarius in 540 and remained the centre of Byzantine control in Italy until 752. Its subsequent history was one of decline and stagnation. After 1441 it was under Venetian and then papal rule.

The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, built in the second quarter of the 5th century, has a plain bare exterior lightened by pilasters that meet in arches and is crowned by a brick dome concealed by a small quadrangular tower. The interior is lavishly decorated. The lower part is clad in panels of yellow marble and the remainder is entirely covered in mosaics. The building is in the western Roman architectural tradition.

The Neonian Baptistery, built by Bishop Orso in the early 5th century, was decorated with mosaics by his successor, Neone, around 450. The interior consists of four apses, articulated into two orders of arches, rising to the great cupola. The large mosaic medallion at the apex of the dome shows the Baptism of Christ by John the Baptist. This is the finest and most complete surviving example of the early Christian baptistry.

The Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo was built in the early years of the 6th century. Inside the interior is divided by 24 marble columns into a nave and two aisles, with a rounded apse. At the present time mosaics cover the two side walls at the foot of the nave, from the ceiling to the tops of the supporting arches, in three decorated fascias. Those in the upper two fascias are in traditional Roman style whereas those in the third show strong Byzantine influence.

The Arian Baptistery, built by Theodoric next to his cathedral, was reconsecrated with the overthrow of the Arian heresy in 561 and became an oratory dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It is a small brick building, octagonal in plan with four flat sides and four with protruding apses. Only the dome retains its mosaic decoration. The iconography of the mosaics is of importance in that it illustrates the Trinity, a somewhat unexpected element in the art of an Arian building as the Trinity was not accepted in this doctrine.

The Archiepiscopal Chapel, the private oratory of the orthodox bishops, was built around 500. The chapel is in the shape of a Greek cross with an apse on the eastern arm; it is covered by a cross-vault and preceded by a rectangular vestibule. The Iower part of the walls is covered with marble, with mosaics above.

The Mausoleum of Theodoric wasbuilt by Theodoric shortly before his death in 526. It is in two storeys, the lower 10-sided with a niche and a small window in each side. The significance of the mausoleum lies in its style and decoration, which owe nothing to Roman or Byzantine art, although it makes use of the Roman stone-construction technique of opus quadratum , which had been abandoned four centuries before. It is the unique surviving example of a tomb of a barbarian king of this period.

The Church of San Vitale was completed around 547. It was fronted by a large quadroportico, converted into a cloister when the church became part of a Benedictine monastery. There are two storeys, the upper one encircling the dome. The apse, which is semi-circular on the interior and polygonal on the outside, is flanked by two small rectangular rooms terminating in niches and two semi-circular sacristies.

The Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe was built in the first half of the 6th century, commissioned by Bishop Ursicinus. The narthex is incorporated in the central body of the facade, framed by two pilasters.” UNESCO

I loved the Basilica of Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo that was erected by Ostrogoth King Theodoric the Great as his palace chapel during the 6th century. There are magnificent mosaics, depicting Jesus’ miracles and parables; and the Passion and Resurrection.

The enthroned Christ with four angels was incredible!

When UNESCO inscribed the church on the World Heritage List, its claimed: “both the exterior and interior of the basilica graphically illustrate the fusion between the western and eastern styles characteristic of the late 5th to early 6th century. This is one of the most important buildings from the period of crucial cultural significance in European religious art”.

Ravenna Italy

Ravenna Italy

Ravenna Italy

Ravenna Italy

Ravenna Italy

Ravenna Italy

Ravenna Italy

Ravenna Italy

Dante; Dante Museum, Ravenna, Italy

Dante; Dante Museum, Ravenna, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Dante Alighieri's portrait by Sandro ...

English: Dante Alighieri’s portrait by Sandro Botticelli. Tempera 54,7 x 47,5 cm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ravenna’s proximity to the sea and unique collection of early Christian mosaics and monuments make it an incredibly desirable travel destination. The Torre del Pubblico leans more than the Tower of Pisa.  Dante’s tomb is located on Via Dante Alighieri. Beautiful beaches are found in the Punta Marina di Ravenna.

Domenico di Michelino, La Divina Commedia di D...

Domenico di Michelino, La Divina Commedia di Dante (Dante and the Divine Comedy). 1465 fresco, in the dome of the church of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence (Florence’s cathedral). Dante Alighieri is shown holding a copy of his epic poem The Divine Comedy. He is pointing to a procession of sin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ravenna flourished under the Byzantine Empire. All eight artistically noteworthy buildings including:  the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, the Neonian Baptistery, the Basilica of Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo, the Arian Baptistery, the Archiepiscopal Chapel, the Mausoleum of Theodoric, the Church of San Vitale and the Basilica of Sant’ Apollinare in Classe were constructed in the 5th and 6th centuries.

The octagonal baptistery contains a beautiful mosaic of John the Baptist and Christ.

Ravenna 1996_0016

Ravenna 1996_0016 (Photo credit: thomas alan)

Ravenna’s mosaics are considered to be the finest in the world outside Istanbul.  “The artistry of the mosaics and monuments presents an enlightened blend of Greco-Roman, Christian iconography, oriental and Western genres.  Ravenna provides a glimpse into artistic and religious relationships during an important period of European cultural history.” UNESCO

Ravenna

Ravenna

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Beautiful Mosaics in Ravenna Italy

Dante gazes at Mount Purgatory in an allegoric...

Dante gazes at Mount Purgatory in an allegorical portrait by Agnolo Bronzino, painted c. 1530 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Basilica of San Vitale is amazing! The church was begun by Bishop Ecclesius in 526, when Ravenna was under the rule of the Ostrogoths. The church has an octagonal plan.

San Vitale in Ravenna

San Vitale in Ravenna

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Ravenna offers an array of annual events including the prestigious summer “Ravenna Festival” with opera performances, classical music and ballet. In September, the Basilica of San Francesco conducts Progetto Dante: “La Divina Commedia nel Mondo” with readings from Dante’s Divine Comedy. The Basilica was built in the 5th century and completely re-built between the 10th and 11th centuries. Dante Alighieri’s funeral was held here in 1321.

If you need some nourishment between mosaics, go to Ca de Ven. This enoteca in Romagne was outstanding! Make plans to attend the Giovinbacco Festival in November @ www.giovinbacco.it in the Province of Ravenna when they celebrate the evolution of Sangiovese de Romagna wine.

Ravenna

Ravenna

English: The 6th century Byzantine mosaic in t...

English: The 6th century Byzantine mosaic in the apse of the basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe (Ravenna, Italy) Italiano: Mosaico bizantino nel catino absidale di Sant’Apollinare in Classe a Ravenna (secolo VI). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Italy 2013 Summer with Kids 988 Italy 2013 Summer with Kids 989 Italy 2013 Summer with Kids 996

Dante's death tomb in Ravenna.

Dante’s death tomb in Ravenna. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the peaceful Piazza dell Popola, or beside the Marina di Ravenna, you can enjoy a pleasant “Vino con Vista.”  Have a glass of Rosso Ravenna, Bianco Ravenna or Sangiovese de Romagna Superiore Riserva with your Parmigiano Reggiano.  Ravenna is famous for its olive oil from Brisighella, and the vineyards from prestigious Albana.

Think about that Ducati or Ferrari you’ve had your eye on as you watch the Italians enjoy their testosterone infused rides. If you prefer, you can plan your next mosaic tile project as you sip your delicious Lambrusco at one of the charming cafes.

If you dine at Gigiole on Piazza Couvour or Antica Trattoria al Gallo 1909 on via Maggione, try some Tagliatelle Bolognese.  In this region, they love cheese and butter; so don’t forget to take your cholesterol medication.

Dine at the Buon Ricordo destination at the Ristorante Hotel Tino in Massa Lombarda @ Via Resistenza, 22 (www.tinomassalombarda.it).  The “Ossobuco del Cavaliere” comes with a charming collector plate depicting a knight on horseback.  The veal is served with saffron risotto. Dine in the charming courtyard of this hotel.

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides to Italy.

To learn more about Italy read www.vino-con-vista.com Travel Guides.

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8 Comments

Filed under Ancient mosaics in Ravenna, Ancient Rome, Dante, ebooks, Italian Architecture, Italian art, Italian Food, Italian Food and Wine, Italian Wine, Italy, Italy Travel Guides, oenogastronomic, Ravenna, Roman Architecture, Roman Emperors, Rome History, The Divine Comedy, Travel and Tourism, UNESCO, UNESCO WOrld Heritage Sites in SIcily, vino con vista, Wine, World Heritage Sites

8 responses to “The Glistening Mosaics in Ravenna are Amazing: UNESCO Sites in Italy

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  2. Great article about an often overlooked destination. I was in Ravenna in 2008, almost by accident, but then was so greatful that I got a chance to see the best collection of mosaics in all of Christendom. And visiting Dante’s tomb is pretty cool. People often think that he’s at Santa Croce in Florence with all the other big names, but instead he’s here in this little tomb tucked into a hidden corner of a city miles away from his home.

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  5. I was in Ravenna for the mosaic festival 2013. Thank you for reminding me of the wonderful mosaics that I saw there. They were truly glistening!

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