Ravenna has brick palaces, cobblestone streets, magnificent monuments, and spectacular Byzantine mosaics. In 402, Ravenna became the capital of the Western Empire. Emperor Honorius moved his court from Milan to Ravenna for fear of barbarians.
The year 476 marked the end of the Western Roman Empire and the barbarian king Odoacer proclaimed himself king of Italy, choosing Ravenna as his royal seat.
In 493, Ravenna was occupied by Theodoric who ruled the city wisely for over thirty years. He built many great monuments, restored Trajan’s acqueduct etc. He practiced the Arian religion, and built several churches for the Arian population: Spirito Santo and Sant’Apollinare Nuovo. Theodoric was an advocate of religious tolerance and sought collaboration from the Catholic population.
First Theodoric’s palace:
And now- Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo:
Erected in the 6th century by Theodoric close to his palace, the Basilica was originally a Palatine Church of Arian religion. The original mosaics of the interior document the evolution of Byzantine wall mosaics from the era of Theodoric to that of Justinian.
The wall on the left is covered by the mosaic of the twenty-two virgins wearing crowns and white veils. They are preceded by the Three Kings and advance towards the Virgin Mary seated on the throne with the Holy Child on her lap, surrounded by four angels.
The wall on the right portrays twenty-six martyrs, all wearing simple white tunics, except for Bishop San Martino dressed in purple. The martyrs move towards Christ who is seated on the throne surrounded by four angels.
Above the two processions, there are scenes from the life of Christ. The 26 Christological scenes from the period of Theodoric are one of the biggest monumental cycles and the most ancient mosaic work of the New Testament of all times.
After visiting this very important and beautiful church let’s have a short walk in the old part of Ravenna:
Dante Alighieri’s Tomb:
The city of mosaics:
Piazza del Popolo seems to be the heart of the old town:
And now time for lunch, my favourite salad – insalta Caprese with Mozzarella di Bufala:
Source: Ravenna. City of Art. Edizioni Salbaroli – Ravenna.