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The mosaics of Ravenna

April 28, 2015

Ravenna is one of those places that doesn’t get many visitors from abroad. There’s no airport, so you have to make a bit more of an effort to get these. But really it could hardly be easier. From Bologna, the stopping train gets you there in less than 90 minutes.

And what a place it is – capital of the Western Roman Empire for much of the fifth century, and subsequently of first the Ostrogoths and then the Eastern Roman Empire. The legacy of all this history is a collection of religious buildings beautified by richly decorated mosaics.Here’s my favourite, the Basilica di Sant’ Appolinare Nuovo. When we visited in April, it was almost deserted.

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Across the city is the Battistero Neoniano, a roughly circular baptistery. Apart from a couple of parties of bored school kids, there were hardly any visitors.

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A bigger crowd puller was the Basilica di San Vitale which, when we visited, was invaded by flag waving tour guides, jabbering away despite the rule of silence. With the mosaics centred around the apse, it was difficult to do justice to their intricate beauty with just a few photos.

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A footpath leads from the Basilica to the Mausoleo di Galla Placidia. In the darkness of the mausoleum, the colours of the mosaics illumimated the roof space.

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There’s one other building that I can’t illustrate because photography is not permitted. That’s the Archiepiscopal Museum, which incorporates the richly decorated Chapel of Sant’Andrea. Apart from a couple of other visitor, we had the place to ourselves.

Visit Ravenna. It’s really worth it.

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From → Italy, Travel

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