Ravenna and Its Early Mosaics
Ravenna is a magnificent city in Italy, full of historical buildings and important work of arts (mosaics) in early Christian period.
It’s very easy to reach Ravenna. If you landed in Bologna Airport, you can take bus to Bologna Centrale and within 30 minutes you will reach Ravenna Centrale (train station).
The first stop, not far from the train station is the mesmerizing Battistero Degli Ariani. It is the Baptistery dedicated to the Arian worship. You may need to google the differences between Arian and Orthodox or Catholicism.
The incredible mosaic inside the Arian Baptistery is the mosaic of Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist in River Jordan. Do you see the personification of River Jordan as an old man? I think that is marvelous!
The Baptism scene is surrounded by the Twelve Apostles. I was in awe for seeing this mosaic as my first mosaic sighting in Ravenna!
The second fantastic building that we visited is Mausoleo di Galla Placidia.
This is a mausoleum of Galla Placidia. Although Galla Placidia was not buried here, she built this magnificent monument. She probably built it as a Chapel to pray and in a later date probably dedicated the place as mausoleum for her husband.
Galla Placidia is a daughter of a Roman Emperor, the wife of a Roman Emperor and later becomes the mother of a Roman Emperor. She is the daughter of Theodosius I, the wife of Constantius III, and the mother of Valentinian. She sounded to have a grande life!
The mausoleum is decorated with impressive mosaics. They are truly the work of arts of early Christian.
The mausoleum also has a sarcophagus which is believed to be assigned to Galla Placidia husband, Constantius III.
Sarcophagus probably assigned for Galla Placidia III Magnificent mosaics at Mausoleum Galla Placidia
It is a must to visit place when you are in Ravenna. The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia is one of UNESCO World Heritages.
The third impressive building that we visited is Basilica di San Vitale. It is literaly just a stone throw away from Mausoleum of Galla Placidia.
There are also fantastic mosaics at the Basilica di San Vitale. At the following picture, the top mosaic depicts Bishop of Ecclesius presenting the Church (of San Vitale) to Jesus and his Angels. San Vitale is also present in this mosaic (the figure on the very left).
At the left side, there is also a famous mosaic of Emperor Justinian (the central figure) with Bishop Maximian (or Maximianus in Latin), the Bishop of Ravenna in the sixth century.
The Basilica itself has an impressive architecture. We can still see some paintings (al frescoe) inside the Basilica.
The mosaic below depicts the scene where Abraham about to sacrifice Isaac.
There are also mosaic of the Apostles, listing beautifully in round shape mosaics along the arch.
Everywhere you look there are mosaics beautifully decorated the Church.
You are in awe looking up seeing these magnificent mosaics.
Abel and Melchisedec are represented in the mosaic.
Before we continued our mosaics-seeking travel, we stopped at the city centre and enjoyed our Italian lunch. Please also try the Italian gelato in the main square, the they are delicious!
The fourth place to visit is Battistero Neoniano.
In this Baptistery of Bishop Neon, there is one huge impressive mosaic of Jesus baptized by John the Baptist.
The mosaic depicts the scene of John the Baptist baptized Jesus in River Jordan. There is also the personification of River Jordan as a man (can you spot it on the mosaic?)
There is also The Holy Spirit (as a dove) in the mosaic. There are 12 apostles surrounding the Baptism scene.
The Baptistery of Neon is also called the Orthodox Baptistery, to differentiate it from the Arian Baptistery (our first place of visit).
The mosaics at Baptistery of Neon dates back to end of fifth century, although the building was constructed at the end of the fourth century or the beginning of the fifth century.
The fifth place that we visited is Museo Arcivescovile di Ravenna. There is a fantastic mosaic to see inside this Museum. It is the mosaic of Jesus stepped on lion and snake, or the mosaic of “Christ treading on the beasts”.
The mosaic is located in the Chapel of Sant’Andrea or Archiepiscopal Chapel.
The mosaic is also the example of Early Christian art, probably dated to the fifth century AD.
There are also beautiful mosaic of four of the Evangelists.
On the National Museum, you can also find Late Roman tombstone and some early Christian tombstones.
Please have a look at this early Christian tomb (sarcofagus), isn’t it marvelous to see early Christian art (circa 6th century) depicted in a sarcofagus ?
The sixth place or the last place that we visited while we were in Ravenna is Basilica di Sant’Apolinare Nuovo.
The Basilica of Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo also housed UNESCO world heritage mosaics.
On the right side, the is a long mosaic depicting the procession of 26 Saints to give presents to Jesus on the throne – Jesus is accompanied by four Angels.
The procession starts from the Palace of Theodoric.
On the left side is the procession of 22 female saints dressed in Byzantine period led by the Three Kings (The Magis) to meet Madonna and baby Jesus.
Maria (Madonna) is sitting on the throne and accompanied by four Angels.
The procession starts from the city of Classe with ships.
The ceilings are wonderful too.
There is also a mosaic of Justinian the Great (probably using the face of Theodoric the Great).
The Basilica was erected by King Theodoric the Great on the first quarter of the sixth century. King Justinian the Great then re-concecrated the Basilica on 561 AD.
Those are all six places we visited in Ravenna. I hope it enlightens your day!