Travel and Culture in
The old town centre of Ravenna offers many traces of its ancient past, thanks to the very good preservation of its early Christian and Byzantine monuments. Together with the peculiar beauty of the typical 9th and 10th century cylindric bell towers, you can admire the harmonious Renaissance buildings, which are the result of the Venetian renovation, carried out in 1400.
The most meaningful monumental body of the town is certainly San Vitale, which is situated in the north-western part of the old town centre of Ravenna. It includes the 10th century St Vitale’s Benedictine monastery, St Vitale’s Basilica, Galla Placidia Mausoleum and the National Museum.
St Vitale’s Basilica was built between 526 and 547 and it is one of the most precious evidence of the early Christian art: the simple marble and brick façade of this basilica leads you into a bright interior, covered with mosaics, which show, on the presbitery’s walls, Teodora’s picture with her retinue of ministers and matrons and Jiustinian’s picture, with the priests and the bishop.
Another important monument is the Galla Placidia Mauseoleum, which had been built between 425 and 450, commissioned by Galla Placidia, Teodosio’s daughter. Here again the interior of the mauseoleum gives space to splendid mosaics, that encircle three precious marble sarcophagi, set on the floor, among which there is also the one belonging to Galla Placidia herself.
A few minutes from St Vitale complex, you can reach the Duomo, built in early Christian style in the 5th century by Bishop Orso, who commissioned the nearby Battistero Neoniano in the same period, too.
Do not forget St Francis’Church, built by bishop Neone in 460, that had contained Dante’s body until 1860. Today the great poet’s body is preserved next to the church, in the nearby neoclassical tomb, that dates back to 1780 and is dedicated to him.
We would like to mention other interesting things to see in the eastern part of the town: the church S. Apollinare Nuovo, built by Teodorico and the famous Mauseoleo di Teodorico, with a firm polygonal structure.
Finally, 5 Km away from Ravenna, you can find the Sant’Apollinare in Classe Basilica, with wonderful mosaics and with a portico and a bell tower.
Then we advise you to visit the National Museum, with its Roman and early Christian archeological collection, as well as the Arcivescovado Museum, that is next to the cathedral (duomo) and preserves some marble ruins of the ancient one.