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The Magnificent Mosaics of Ravenna

April 13, 2021 | 11:16am EDT

Ravenna is a beautiful old city in the region of Emilia-Romagna near the Eastern coast of Italy. It is famous for its many churches, many of which hold the most breathtaking Byzantine mosaics. There are eight UNESCO world heritage sites in Ravenna.

Although Ravenna is famous for its early Christian monuments and mosaics, these places are special in their artistic creation alone and I had admired the pictures of these places in my art books and online. My mom loves Italy, she studied abroad there and has visited countless times, so when she invited me to accompany her on a family vacation to Italy in 2019, I was finally able to go to Ravenna myself. We visited some of these incredible places during our day trip there. The exteriors of these magnificent religious monuments are impressive, but not as remarkable as the beauty that they hold inside.

The first place we visited was the Basilica of San Vitale. This was the place I wanted to visit most. Beautiful mosaics cover the walls and columns, shimmering in green and gold. It is a grand building with multiple entrances and levels, making it feel airy and inviting. My favorite part of this basilica was how there were multiple portraits of holy figures in circles upon an arch. Below is an image of San Vitale.

The second place we visited was the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia. It is on the grounds of the Basilica of San Vitale and is composed of the most vibrant cobalt blue tiles. The mosaics completely cover the ceiling in this structure and the windows are made from alabaster. I loved the animal and angel depictions in this monument the most. Below is an image featuring the blue tiles of the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia.

The third place we went was the Basilica of Sant’apollinare Nuovo. This is one of the most photographed basilicas that I have seen. The nave is open with panels of golden mosaics which gleam in the sunlight from the windows. I loved how the rectangular panels seemed to be telling a story like a scroll. Below is an image of the Basilica.

Italy is full of art everywhere you go, not just in holy places or museums. Village gates, tombs, streets and shops are decorated with beautiful pieces from history. It was a treasure to go and I think that Ravenna is a destination that everyone should check out if they happen to stay in Italy. Despite these mosaics depicting religious imagery, they can be appreciated by people from all walks of life. Awe inspiring, glittering, magnificent Ravenna.

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