"It's all Greek to me - San Vitale" Basilica di San Vitale Tip by iandsmith
Basilica di San Vitale, Ravenna: 39 reviews and 118 photos
The church was begun by Bishop Ecclesius in 527, when Ravenna was under the rule of the Ostrogoths, and completed by the 27th Bishop of Ravenna, Maximian, in 548 during the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna. Though the architect of this church is unknown, he was unquestionably among the best architects of his time.
The church is built on an octagonal plan. The building has not only Roman elements (the dome, shape of doorways, stepped towers) but Byzantine also (polygonal apse, capitals, narrow bricks, etc).
However, the church is most famous for its wealth of Byzantine mosaics, the largest and best preserved outside of Constantinople itself. The church is of extreme importance in Byzantine art, as it is the only major church from the period of Emperor Justinian to survive virtually intact to the present day; furthermore, it is thought to reflect the design of the Byzantine Imperial Palace Audience Chamber, of which nothing at all survives.
According to legend, the church was erected on the site of the martyrdom of Saint Vitalis.
However, there is some confusion as to whether this is the Saint Vitalis of Milan, or the Saint Vitale whose body was discovered together with that of Saint Agricola, by Saint Ambrose in Bologna in 393.
The construction of the church was sponsored by a Greek banker, Julius Argentarius, of whom very little is known, except that he also sponsored the construction of the Basilica of Sant' Apollinare in Classe at around the same time. The final cost amounted to 26,000 gold pieces (solidi).
The true sponsor may have been the Byzantine Emperor, who used such church construction projects as propaganda and as a way of speeding up the incorporation of new territory into the Empire.
Though Justinian was the influence of not only this but others in Ravenna, he never actually set foot in the city.
Address: Via San Vitale
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