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Pauline Kenny

Ravenna is rich in Ancient Roman history. It became the capital of the Western Empire in 402 A.D. By the 6th century Ravenna was accepted as the metropolis of Italy. Later in the 6th century, Ravenna was in the hands of the Byzantines and that is when the famous mosaics were created. Dante finished The Divine Comedy in Ravenna and died there in 1321.

What do you do in Ravenna? First, see the mosaics. Then explore the food stores. Then go out for dinner. Doing these things will also make you walk many of the streets in this beautiful town. We spent two nights in Ravenna in October 2000.

Ravenna, Classe mosaics. 10/00

Mosaics at Basilica of S. Apollinare in Classe

The Mosaics of Ravenna

These are the mosaics we saw in Ravenna (we determined from various guide books that these were the most important). All except one are located in the historical center of Ravenna and we walked to them all. We spent one day seeing these. We visited the Basilica in Classe in the morning after we left Ravenna. We have listed the mosaics in our personal order of importance. The name is given in English with the Italian name in italic after. We have seen a lot of art in Italy, but we were both overwhelmed by the beauty of these mosaics. They are stunning.

Basilica of S. Apollinare in Classe

6th C. (Basilica di S. Apollinare in Classe) Large church with beautiful mosaics covering the apse; San Apollinare standing in a meadow of sheep.
Location: In the town of Classe, a few miles south and east of Ravenna. Take the SS 16 in direction of Rimini south. When you get to big round about with about five roads and no signs for Classe, take the 9 o'clock left turn towards the sea. San Apollinare will be in a mile on your left. It is easy to visit this one on your way to or from Ravenna (assuming you are traveling by car).

Church of San Vitale

6th. C. (Chiesa di San Vitale) Large church with mosaics including depictions of the retinues of Justinian and Theodora.

Mausoleum of Galla Placidia

5th. C. (Mausoleo di Galla Placidia) Located on the same grounds as Church of San Vitale. Small building contains earliest mosaics in Ravenna. The mosaics on the ceiling are beautiful (gold stars on a blue background).

Neonian Baptistry

(also called Baptistry of the Basilica of Ursus) 5th C. (Battistero Neoniano) Small building with exceptional mosaics. Notice the mosaic of the baptism of Christ by St. John the Baptist in the center of the domed ceiling.

Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo

6th. C. (Basilica di S. Apollinare Nuovo) Large church with mosaics.

Archiepiscopal Museum with Archiepiscopal Chapel

5th C. (Museo Arcivescovile) Museum, next to the Duomo, built around a small chapel with beautiful mosaics.

Other Things to Do

Dante's Tomb

(1780) Small building with Dante's tomb. Very popular with Italian tourists.


There is a large food market (Mercato Comunale)in the Piazza Andrea Costa. Open Mon - Sat: 7am - 2pm, Fri: also 4:30pm - 7:30, closed Sunday.

Gastronomia Marchesini, Via Mazzini, 2. A good food store, recommended in Fred Plotkin's book "Italy for the Gourmet Traveler". There is a deli and meat counter in the center, canned goods around the outside. Not that much to interest us vegetarians, although we did bring home 2 jars of porcini mushrooms in oil!

The designer stores on Via Cavour. Ravenna is a prosperous city, full of expensive stores.

Mausoleum of Theodoric

6th C. (Mausoleo Teodorico) 10 sided building outside the historic center, built by Theodoric himself.
Location: Just outside the historic center. You can walk to it, but it is a short, ugly walk along a very busy road. As soon as you get out of the historic center you can see, and smell, the industrial zone. The roof is a single slab of stone weighing over 300 tons.

Ravenna, Classe mosaics, sheep. 10/00

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