HALF-DAY TOUR (2.5/3 HOURS)
Ravenna is the capital of mosaic! Here you can find the richest patrimony of Early Christian and Byzantine mosaics, dating from the 5th to the 6th century, and discover eight monuments declared World Heritage sites by UNESCO.
Walking through the streets of the centre you can admire the major diocesan monuments, four of which are now World Heritage Sites.
The visit starts from the Basilica of S. Apollinare Nuovo. It was built in 490 as a palatine chapel of Arian cult by Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths, and it was later converted to the Catholic religion. Its splendid mosaics show the stories of Christ and also describe the most significant places of Ravenna at the time, such as the Harbour of Classe and the Palace of Theodoric. The extraordinary processions of Saints and Virgins, with their hieratic figures, are Byzantine additions that illustrate the various transformations of this church.
The tour continues to the nearby Basilica of San Francesco where you will be fascinated by the striking submerged crypt where today goldfish swim. It was built in the 10th century to preserve the remains of Bishop Neone, who reigned over the Diocese of Ravenna in the fifth century.
But Ravenna is not only a city of mosaics, it is also the city where Dante Alighieri died. It was here that the Supreme Poet spent his last years and here his remains had a troubled rest. Right next to the Basilica of San Francesco stands the eighteenth-century Tomb of Dante Alighieri which tells us the incredible story linked to the bones of the divine poet.
The Orthodox Baptistery is the next stop. Here you can discover the history of Ravenna during Roman times. The baptistery, built in the 5th century, is the oldest in the city and is decorated inside with splendid mosaics depicting the baptism of Christ and the procession of the apostles. Leaving the baptistery, after walking along a few streets, you arrive in the “living room” of Ravenna, Piazza del Popolo, where the town hall is located and where you can see the traces left by the Venetian domination in the architecture of the buildings.
The visit continues towards one of the most beautiful sites of the city: the extraordinary Basilica of S. Vitale which, with its original octagonal shape, is the treasure chest of the most famous Byzantine mosaics, including the portraits of the Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora.
The visit ends at the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, where the poetry of the mosaic reaches its peak. The Roman empress, a strong and legendary woman, wanted to build this burial place for herself and her family by decorating it with stories related to Christian iconography and with symbols that recall the East and the nature. The splendid and enchanting blue vault, illuminated by 570 golden stars, will take your breath away.