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Ravenna Travel Guide: 398 reviews and 1,217 photos

Known as la CittĂ  dei Mosaici (the City of Mosaics) Ravenna boasts the best-preserved collection of mosaics from the Paleo-Christian and Byzantine periods. The dazzling mosaics lie mainly within intact churches, baptistries and mausoleums erected during the golden age of the city. This period began in 402 AD when Ravenna became the capital of the Western Roman Empire, and continued under the Ostrogoths, (493 - 540 AD) who also chose Ravenna as their capital city. The period of prosperity persisted for about a century after Ravenna was conquered by the Eastern Roman (i.e. Byzantine) Empire and turned into its administrative base in Italy, but a long period of sharp decline began thereafter, well before the Byzantine rulers lost the city to the Lombards in 751 AD. In 756 AD, Ravenna was taken over by the Papal States and for much of its history thereafter it remained firmly in the hands of the Pope, with the exception of short periods of independence and foreign occupations, by Venice and Napoleon among others. Although Papal rule ended with the unification of Italy, Ravenna did not experience any resurgence until well into the 20th century when interest in its mosaics and intact ancient monuments began to take shape. In 1996, eight of its treasured monuments were finally included by the UNESCO on the list of World Heritage Sites.

Anyone passionate about mosaics and early Christian architecture would find great delight in Ravenna. The city is located in the Romagna region, about 70 minutes by train from Bologna and makes a great weekend trip. Although I rushed to see the city in a single day in April 2010, I would recommend spending at least two days to better appreciate its monuments and mosaics.

  • Last visit to Ravenna: Apr 2010
  • Intro Updated Sep 8, 2011
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  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    Oct 24, 2010 at 6:07 AM

    Oh magnificent mosaics! And good to see that taking photos is allowed :-) I was only in Sant'Apollinare in Classe but am hungry to visit Ravenna. And shouldn't look at food market photos, otherwise I starve...


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