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Basilica di San Vitale - Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member lumbricus
N 44° 25.216 E 012° 11.781
33T E 276810 N 4922376
Quick Description: The Basilica of San Vitale is a church in Ravenna, Italy, and one of the most important examples of early Christian Byzantine art and architecture in western Europe.
Location: Emilia–Romagna , Italy
Date Posted: 9/28/2015 6:58:03 AM
Waymark Code: WMPNW2
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Tervas
Views: 7

Long Description:
"Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna

Ravenna was the seat of the Roman Empire in the 5th century and then of Byzantine Italy until the 8th century. It has a unique collection of early Christian mosaics and monuments. All eight buildings – the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, the Neonian Baptistery, the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, the Arian Baptistery, the Archiepiscopal Chapel, the Mausoleum of Theodoric, the Church of San Vitale and the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe – were constructed in the 5th and 6th centuries. They show great artistic skill, including a wonderful blend of Graeco-Roman tradition, Christian iconography and oriental and Western styles." (visit link)

I suggest you to park here 44°25.312' 12° 11.770', it's a safe parking place and costs only 3 € for the whole day and it's located directly behind San Vitale. After you parked here you should go to the tourist store at 44°25.179' 12°11.769' and buy the ticket for San Vital and 4 other great mosaique places. Now you can visit basilica San Vitale, one of the most beatiful churches I ever visited. Enjoy!

"The Basilica of San Vitale is a church in Ravenna, Italy, and one of the most important examples of early Christian Byzantine art and architecture in western Europe. The building is styled an "ecclesiastical basilica" in the Roman Catholic Church, though it is not of architectural basilica form. It is one of eight Ravenna structures inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


The church was begun by Bishop Ecclesius in 526, when Ravenna was under the rule of the Ostrogoths and completed by the 27th Bishop of Ravenna, Maximian, in 547 preceding the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna. The architect of the church is unknown.

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. (A donor portrait of the banker may appear among the courtiers on the Justinian mosaic.) The final cost amounted to 26,000 solidi (gold pieces).

The central vault used a western technique of hollow tubes inserted into each other, rather than bricks. The ambulatory and gallery were vaulted only later in the Middle Ages. The Baroque fresco on the dome was made between 1778 and 1782 by S. Barozzi, U. Gandolfi and E. Guarana.


The church has an octagonal plan. The building combines Roman elements: the dome, shape of doorways, and stepped towers; with Byzantine elements: polygonal apse, capitals, and narrow bricks. The church is most famous for its wealth of Byzantine mosaics, the largest and best preserved outside of Constantinople. The church is of extreme importance in Byzantine art, as it is the only major church from the period of the Emperor Justinian I 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. The belltower has four bells, the tenor one dates to the 16th century. 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.

Mosaic Art

The central section is surrounded by two superposed ambulatories. The upper one, the matrimoneum, was reserved for married women. A series of mosaics in the lunettes above the triforia depict sacrifices from the Old Testament:[5] the story of Abraham and Melchizedek, and the Sacrifice of Isaac; the story of Moses and the Burning Bush, Jeremiah and Isaiah, representatives of the twelve tribes of Israel, and the story of Abel and Cain. A pair of angels, holding a medallion with a cross, crowns each lunette. On the side walls the corners, next to the mullioned windows, have mosaics of the Four Evangelists, under their symbols (angel, lion, ox and eagle), and dressed in white. Especially the portrayal of the lion is remarkable in its ferocity.

The cross-ribbed vault in the presbytery is richly ornamented with mosaic festoons of leaves, fruit and flowers, converging on a crown encircling the Lamb of God. The crown is supported by four angels, and every surface is covered with a profusion of flowers, stars, birds and animals, including many peacocks. Above the arch, on both sides, two angels hold a disc and beside them a representation of the cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. They symbolize the human race (Jerusalem representing the Jews, and Bethlehem the Gentiles).

All these mosaics are executed in the Hellenistic-Roman tradition: lively and imaginative, with rich colors and a certain perspective, and with a vivid depiction of the landscape, plants and birds. They were finished when Ravenna was still under Gothic rule. The apse is flanked by two chapels, the prothesis and the diaconicon, typical for Byzantine architecture.

Inside, the intrados of the great triumphal arch is decorated with fifteen mosaic medallions, depicting Jesus Christ, the twelve Apostles and Saint Gervasius and Saint Protasius, the sons of Saint Vitale. The theophany was begun in 525 under bishop Ecclesius. It has a great gold fascia with twining flowers, birds, and horns of plenty. Jesus Christ appears, seated on a blue globe in the summit of the vault, robed in purple, with his right hand offering the martyr's crown to Saint Vitale. On the left, Bishop Ecclesius offers a model of the church." Wikipedia (visit link)


"A basilica di San Vitale è uno dei più famosi ed importanti luoghi di culto cattolici di Ravenna, esemplare capolavoro dell'arte paleocristiana e bizantina.

Nell'ottobre del 1960 papa Giovanni XXIII la elevò alla dignità di basilica minore.

La basilica è inserita, dal 1996, nella lista dei siti italiani patrimonio dell'umanità dall'UNESCO, all'interno del sito seriale "Monumenti paleocristiani di Ravenna".

La costruzione fu iniziata dal vescovo Ecclesio nel 525, vivente ancora Teodorico, e completata nel 547 dal successore di Ecclesio, l'arcivescovo Massimiano, quando Ravenna era già stata riconquistata dall'imperatore Giustiniano I. L'edificio, capolavoro dell'architettura ravennate, combina elementi architettonici romani (la cupola, la forma dei portali, le torri) con elementi bizantini (l'abside poligonale, i capitelli, la costruzione in mattoni, Lem urcatta, ecc.)." Wikipedia (visit link)
Type: Building

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