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Ravenna - Italy

Ravenna Murals Basilica di San Vitale, RavennaBasilica di San Vitale, RavennaBasilica di San Vitale, RavennaBasilica di San Vitale, RavennaRavenna

Ravenna is a pleasant city, quiet peaceful and spacious in the pedestrianised city centre. There are many pedal bikes around instead of the usual mopeds as the city is so flat. The main draw of the city is its Byzantine heritage. Ravenna was once the capital of the Western Roman Empire and then one of the outposts of the Byzantine Empire - they have left their mark in the form of mosaics in the city's religious monuments.

There are several churches, baptisteries and mausoleums in the city covered in exquisitely detailed mosaics. These decorate the ceilings and walls and are very impressive, with vibrant colours, particularly the golds.

The best mosaics are probably in the Basilica di San Vitale, a large round church, built in the fourth or fifth century. From the outside the building looks nothing special, especially compared to the many ornate marble cathedrals across Italy. The inside however is much different. All the walls are covered in frescoes, and the domed ceiling is fantastically painted. Behind and around the altar looks at first glance like more paintings - but on a closer inspection it's revealed to be finely detailed
mosaic. This captures many Christian scenes as well as the faces of many of the early saints.

The mosaics in the nearby mausoleum and in the baptistery by the city's cathedral aren't as vivid or detailed, but do cover all the walls and ceilings in bible scenes. The ceiling of the baptistery, with its scene of Jesus being baptised in the river Jordan is very impressive.

Ravenna is a really nice city to visit, especially with the lack of mopeds in the centre. The Byzantine mosaics are incredible in both their detail and texture, reflecting the light in wonderful colours.

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