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Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna

Val D'Orcia

Splendid city of art, Ravenna, contains a complex of religious monuments of the early Christian period of extraordinary historical and artistic importance. It was in 402 A.D. that the Emperor Honorius transferred the capital of the Western Roman Empire from Milan to Ravenna, becoming a sumptuous imperial residence. The eight exceptionally beautiful monuments are: the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, built by the Empress as a family grave with rich mosaics of classical style. Theodoric’s Mausoleum built with large blocks of Istrian stone and covered with a huge monolith of 300-ton that constitutes its summit; the Neonian Baptistery that is also characterized by mosaics that decorate its dome. Another magnificent dome is that of the Arian Baptistery, built by Theodoric for the Arian cult in Italy, and the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, in what is called the Gothic District. One of the highest achievements of the early Christians of Ravenna is the Basilica of San Vitale, in which stand out the splendid mosaics of the presbytery and the apse, in green color and bright gold. On the first floor of the Archbishop’s Palace, there is the only monument of Orthodox nature to be built during the reign of Theodoric: the Archbishop’s Chapel, characterized by the beautiful mosaic that represents Christ Warrior, with the cross on his shoulder. Finally, in Sant’Apollinare in Classe, not far from Ravenna, the mosaics depict the patron saint of Ravenna immersed in a rural landscape.

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