Posted by: passagetoitaly | October 20, 2009

Next Stop Ravenna

Ravenna, Italy

Ravenna, Italy

Our travels led us next to Ravenna, located in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. In Ravenna, we visited Sant’Apollinare in Classe, the Galla Placidia Mausoleum, and San Vitale Basilica located next to the mausoleum.

Sant’Apollinare is the patron saint of Ravenna, and this 6th century basilica was devoted to him. Upon entering the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare, one enters a huge, vast hall lined with soaring arches and sarcophagi of Ravenna’s archbishops, who have passed long ago from our world. It is the first basilica which we saw on our many cultural excursions in which the depicted scenes from the Bible were tediously placed together with small, glimmering pieces of tile, known as mosaics.

Sant'Apollinare in Classe a Ravenna

Sant'Apollinare in Classe a Ravenna

The scene over the alter shows Sant’Apollinare in a field surrounded by nature and sheep. Other scenes show Ravenna’s four bishops, the Roman Emperor and his brothers, and passages from the Old Testament.

Sant'Apollinare a Ravenna

Sant'Apollinare a Ravenna

In several places in the basilica, one can see cut-outs of the flooring deliberately made to show the original flooring. For more information on this basilica, please visit Sacred Destinations: Sant’Apollinare a Classe

Sant'Apollinare, mosaic flooring

Sant'Apollinare, mosaic flooring

Sant’Apollinare’s Basilica is located just outside of the main town. So once again, we had to board the bus to go into town.

San Vitale Basilica

San Vitale Basilica

The second basilica that we saw that day was San Vitale, which in my opinion is much grander than Sant’Apollinare. The basilica’s artisans created a beautiful combination between paintings and mosaics. The paintings certainly did need restoring. If you look closely in the pictures, you can see white patches where the paint has peeled off throughout the years.

Picture 400

Picture 394

The floor plan of the basilica was also interesting. In the main portion of the basilica in which Mass is held, men sat on the lower level in line with the alter. Women were required to sit on the second floor in the balcony.

Picture 407

The mausoleum was named after Galla Placidia (390 – 450) who was daughter of the Roman Emperor Theodosius. The building was built in the 5th century, and was created in the form of a cross. Mosaic tiles cover the walls and ceilings of depictions of night and day. Not much light enters so my photos did not come out well. To see pictures of the inside, please visit: Paradox Place . The site shows both pictures of San Vitale and the mausoleum. Enjoy!

The remainder of our time spent in Ravenna led us to the city’s heart, which was reached by an underground passage. It was amazing how it was built. It was like a miniature city built undergound. Unfortunately due to the poor lighting (it was very dark down there), and due to my camera’s inability to make up for the lack of light, I sadly do not have any pictures. Not much else was to be seen in the center, except another church, a chocolate store, and some clothing stores.



  1. We loved Ravenna, and visited the places you did in April this year. I think San Vitale is one of the most amazing places I have ever seen.

  2. How long was your stay in Italy?

    Yes, San Vitale is very beautiful. I’d love to be able to see Ravenna more. I’m sure there are more things to be found about this city that I didn’t have a chance to see.


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