The Mosaics of Ravenna
Ravenna is a happy and quiet town, quiet peaceful and the city centre is large with lots of walking areas for visitors. There are many pedal bikes around instead of the usual mopeds as the city is so flat. The main draw of the city is its Byzantine heritage. Ravenna was once the capital of the Western Roman Empire and then one of the outposts of the Byzantine Empire – they have left their mark in the form of mosaics in the city’s religious monuments. The mosaics are beautiful, bright and colorful. The patterns seem to just blend, it is quite remarkable how new they look, when they are actually very old.
There are several churches, baptisteries and mausoleums in the city covered in exquisitely detailed mosaics. These decorate the ceilings and walls and are very impressive, with vibrant colours, particularly the golds.
The best mosaics are probably in the Basilica di San Vitale, a large round church, built in the fourth or fifth century. From the outside the building looks nothing special, especially compared to the many ornate marble cathedrals across Italy. The inside however is much different. All the walls are covered in frescoes, and the domed ceiling is fantastically painted. Behind and around the altar looks at first glance like more paintings – but on a closer inspection it’s revealed to be finely detailed
mosaic. This captures many Christian scenes as well as the faces of many of the early saints.
The mosaics in the nearby mausoleum and in the baptistery by the city’s cathedral aren’t as vivid or detailed, but do cover all the walls and ceilings in bible scenes. The ceiling of the baptistery, with its scene of Jesus being baptised in the river Jordan is very impressive.
Ravenna is a really nice city to visit, especially with the lack of mopeds in the centre. The Byzantine mosaics are incredible in both their detail and texture, reflecting the light in wonderful bright colors.
Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. It was the capital city of the Western Roman Empire from 402 until that empire collapsed in 476. It then served as the capital of the Kingdom of the Ostrogoths until it was re-conquered in 540 by the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire. Afterwards, the city formed the centre of the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna until the invasion of the Franks in 751, after which it became the seat of the Kingdom of the Lombards.
Although an inland city, Ravenna is connected to the Adriatic Sea by the Candiano Canal. It is the location of eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites.