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Places to see in Ravenna,
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48100 Ravenna, 1., Lido di Savio, via Russi 14

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Ravenna info

Places to see in Ravenna

Places to see in Ravenna, things to do in Ravenna, Italy

1. The Mosaics of Ravenna

Ravenna was the seat of the Roman Empire in the 5th century and then of Byzantine Italy until the 8th century. It has a unique collection of early Christian mosaics and monuments. All eight buildings – the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, the Neonian Baptistery, the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, the Arian Baptistery, the Archiepiscopal Chapel, the Mausoleum of Theodoric, the Church of San Vitale and the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe – were constructed in the 5th and 6th centuries. They show great artistic skill, including a wonderful blend of Graeco-Roman tradition, Christian iconography and oriental and Western styles.



2. Arian Baptistery

This baptistery was built at the end of the 5th century, when the Arian Visigoths ruled Italy. The dome mosaic shows the baptism of Christ with a personification of the River Jordan. The Arian Baptistery has an octagonal plan, with four small apses on opposing sides. Originally there was an ambulatory around seven of the eight sides. The baptistery now stands about 2.25 meters below modern ground level.



3. Teatro Alighieri

This opera house that is named after the great Italian poet who spent his final years in Ravenna. It opened in 1852 and has hosted the biggest stars of the theater world. Its most defining characteristic is perhaps its neoclassical style, and Teatro Alighieri's beauty has attracted enthusiasts of theater, opera and dance from all over the world.



4. Piazza del Popolo

It can be reached in ten minutes from the railway station by walking straight ahead along Viale Farini and then Via Diaz. This charming piazza is lined with attractive historic buildings including the Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall), originally built in the fifteenth century. As they did elsewhere, the Venetians erected two columns in the square during their rule; instead of Venetian emblems these are topped with statues of Ravenna's patron saints San Vitale (St. Vitalis) and Sant'Apollinare (St. Apollonaris). There are cafes with outdoor tables, and it's a lovely place to sit and relax.



5. Museo Nazionale (National Museum)

This is part of the same complex as San Vitale and the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, although it is entered on a different combined ticket as described above. The contents of the museum range from the interior of a historic pharmacy to a section on the prehistoric era. There is some attractive inlaid furniture including a fantastic sixteenth-century cherry-wood cabinet decorated with imaginary towns, hunting scenes and fair ladies. One of the most interesting exhibits is a small section of mosaic from San Vitale, showing the head of an angel. Being able to examine this at close quarters provides a real insight into the techniques and skills employed to create the mosaics of Ravenna.



6. Sant'Apollinare in Classe

The basilica dates to the early sixth century, and its round campanile (belltower) to the tenth century. The mosaics inside are important and included in the UNESCO listing for Ravenna. They show the transfiguration of Christ, St. Apollonaris with a flock of sheep and a charming landscape of flowers, trees and birds. I was particularly keen to see the scene pictured in old guide books of the basilica standing picturesquely among green and trees. Sadly the effect is marred by busy road systems, recent housing and fences. It is worth seeing the basilica, but if your time in Ravenna is limited, I would concentrate on the central sights. If you are driving towards the coast or seaside resorts towards Rimini, Classe makes an easy stop on your intinerary.



7. Pala De Andrè

Great acoustics and distinctive architecture are trademarks of this multi-purpose concert venue that is located just minutes outside central Ravenna. Call for concert dates and showtimes.




8. Mausoleum of Galla Placidia

The small brick chapel is plain and modest on the outside, concealing the glittering treasures inside. Shaped like a Greek cross measuring 40 feet by 30 feet, it has blind arches on its walls and a square tower over the crossing. Because of subsidence, it has sunk 4.5 feet into the ground over the centuries. Entrance is through a small door (originally 4.5 feet taller, of course) on the north side. The plain north facade was once covered in marble; only a lintel with a carved frieze survives over the door.



9. San Giovanni Evangelista

Although much restored, San Giovanni Evangelista is one of the oldest monuments in Ravenna, dating from c.426-30 AD. Its chief attractions are its fine 5th-century architecture and 13th-century mosaics depicting the Crusades. Entrance is through a 14th-century Gothic marble portal, which leads into a reconstructed brick atrium. The west facade features a very tall arched porch, which was completely rebuilt after World War II. The square campanile (10th to 14th centuries) stands 139 feet high and contains two bells cast in 1208.




10. Neonian Baptistery

The Neonian Bapistery (Battistero Neoniano, also known as the Battistero Ortodosso or Orthodox Baptistery) is an octagonal baptistery built in the 5th century. It is the oldest monument in Ravenna and contains some of the city's most beautiful Byzantine mosaics. The octagonal baptistery is constructed of brick and topped with a dome made of hollow tubes to save weight. The building looks like it has sunk below ground, but actually the street level has risen almost 10 feet since it was built.



For more info on places to see in Milano, Minori, Rome, Venice, Budapest