This cultural proposal of the town of Ravenna was tested by us with our 11 years old daughter: all places proposed inspired our interest but also the Giada’one! In spite of her tired feet at the evening, she appreciated really everything, as she loves art in all its forms. It’s impossibile to tell you what to exclude from this tour, so decide if you want to follow in our footsteps or if you simply want to get ideas from what we did!
YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN: OUR TOUR OF RAVENNA IN TWO DAYS WITH ALL USEFUL INFO TI VISIT THE TOWN ALSO WITH CHILDREN
YOU MIGHT BE ALSO INTERESTED IN: WHAT TO SEE IN RAVENNA AND WHAT TO DO WITH CHILDREN AT THE OPEN AIR
Also called “Basilica Ursiana” and very close to the Battistero Neoniano, inside conserves an interesting work of the early Christian period, like a marble structure decorated with animal figures, some peculiar benches where you can sit and a church lectern made of mosaics. Outside the church has a particular circular bell tower next to it.
The church is closed from 12 to 14.30.
The Baptistery has an octagonal shape and it’s next to the Cathedral: it’s one of the most ancient monuments in Ravenna. Inside it’s full of mosaics, but what impressed us was the dome depicting the scene of Christ’s Baptism in the water of the Giordano river: it represents the most ancient evidence of a scene of Christ’ Baptism made of mosaic! Below this image the twelve apostles acclaiming Christ as son of God, a supernatural being. Photos inside are unfortunately not allowed.
Someone says that this museum could be avoided, except for St. Andrea Chapel, but I don’t agree. We liked it not only for it’s peculiarity, but also Giada was very excited for it. There are two floors full of works that put into evidence the long history of the church of Ravenna: tombstones, capitals, sculptures, mosaics, stele, sarcophagi, ecclesiastical objects, parchments, papyrus and all materials coming from the ancient cathedral destroyed in ‘700. So said it could seem nothing interesting, but the works are very beautiful and peculiar that I suggest you to visit.
The Museum hosts also the amazing Cattedra d’Avorio of the emperor Massimiano, one of the most famous ivory works of Byzantine artists we know.
The main reasons why you should visit this museum is without doubts for the early Christian St. Andrea Chapel: it’s small but it’s a concentration of mosaics that make your head spin! All decorations glorify the figure of Christ together with the Apostles, Evangelists and martyrs images.
In other rooms are some art works like the beautiful (Vergin with the Child) “Madonna col Bambino”. Also here photos are not allowed.
It’s a beautiful museum located inside the monumental complex of San Nicolò dedicated to the ancient and contemporary mosaics: there are videos about how you can realize a mosaic and how you can restore it. The museum hosts works inspired to the Divine Comedy and the new exhibition room “Il Genio delle Acque” that shows the floors of the imperial Roman domus found in Ravenna. Moreover a section dedicated to materials like painters enamel and glasses with gold leaves. Both Giada and us found it very interesting for the mosaics, for the colours but also for the very suggestive location.
Hours are reduced (10-14)
You have to know that in the street behind TAMO, in Via Baccarini near N. 66 if I remember well, there’s a small laboratory with free entry where you can see how small or big mosaic objects are realized. It’s true that there are a lot of similar places where it’s possibile to see this kind of work, but we particularly appreciated to be here because the owner permitted to Giada to try to cut a particular kind of stone into very small squares, that would be used for the realization of her mosaic! Giada in this occasion realized how much precision and attention are needed to realize even also small works.
We asked for some children laboratories to taste the technique in a simple and funny way, something suitable for children, but there are only serious and challenging ones that last at least a month.
CRIPTA RASPONI AND GIARDINI PENSILI
It’s a building built in XVIII century from the family Rasponi from Ravenna and it overlooks San Francesco Square, the reason why I suggest you this visit: from the terrace you can have a beautiful view over the square. The site is not so big but it’s nice, above all the entrance to the gardens with the fountain in the centre and the little Neo-Gothic tower: it gives you the idea of an oasis of peace.
The crypt in my opinion is nothing so special but it’s already included in the ticket and it’s inside the little complex: the Rasponi family had it built itself, doesn’t contain however the remains of the deceased members, but it’s more like a cult chapel. The mosaics of the crypt probably come from the church of San Severo in Classe: the most significant part is the mosaic floor with animal figures and ornamental motifs. Moreover are conserved some marble manufactures gathered by Rasponi family.
BASILICA DI SAN FRANCESCO
From 1261 this church is dedicated to San Francesco d’Assisi and stands on an ancient cult place in the homonym square, right next to the gardens of Palazzo Rasponi: it has nothing particular except from a crypt half covered from water in which little red fish swim. This crypt, standing below the altar, usually remains in the dark until someone inserts an Euro coin lighting it up completely. A real show above all for chikdren! Always inserting some coins you can also see a permanent crib. In this church it was celebrated Dante Alighieri’s funeral and still today this church is part of the “Dantesque circuit of the town”.
It’s Dante’s grave in neoclassical style. The poet lived last year’s of his life here in Ravenna; all area around this grave, included the museum, San Francesco church and the cloister is called “Dantesque area”.
BASILICA DI S. APOLLINARE NUOVO
Teodorico had it built next to his palace as a church of arian cult. Subsequently it changed its function and nowadays it hosts S. Apollinare’ s relics coming from the Cathedral in Classe. Externally it’s anonymous, but internally it’s surprising: the walls present some Byzantine mosaics belonging to three diffrent periods, as you can notice from the evolving style.
Decoration is on three sections: the first two are the most ancient ones and represent the Saints, the Prophets and Christ’s history, while the inferior section is the most recent one and presents a continue succession of Virgins and Martyrs, the town of Classe with its harbour at the beginning of the left nave, and Teodorico’s Palace at the end of the left nave. Moreover the Three Wise Men, Christ and the Virgin Mary on the throne. All that succession of identical images impressed us giving like a sensation of elegance, order and equilibrium, even if paying more attention, you can notice some little differences! Giada, who loves art, proportions and artistic beauty, noticed that, like in the crosswords puzzles where even if it’s difficult to find differences, they exist.
Very closed to Apollinare Nuovo, there are only the remains of the ancient palace, the only architectural evidence in Ravenna dating back to the VIII century d.C. Even if it’s only 5 minutes from the train station, this palace is still less known and not included in the touristic circuits because of the obvious inadequacy of the site. In my opinion you can see it well also from the street without entering and personally I wouldn’t put it among the unmissable things to see; only if you have time.
Costs: 1 Euro per person, reduced 0,50 cent, opened only from Thursday to Sunday from 8.30 to 13.30
A minute on foot from Teodorico’s Palace, in Via Giulio Alberoni 13, we discovered by accident a rather peculiar art place. The artist Fausto Fori allowed us to enter into his place to admire his art and all his life gathered around the four walls of that court, that in a bit of time will be sold from the owner. Where his whole heritage will end, we don’t know: a real sadness for an artist that was able to draw Vittorio Sgarbi‘s attention; he defines him “The artist of the absence”. Fori expresses himself without reference points, and tends to the mysticism born of a suffered and troubled life you can notice also in his dark and incisive strokes. Next to the art he cultivates a passion forever: Poetry.
SAN GIOVANNI EVANGELISTA CHURCH
About 350 mt. from Apollinare Nuovo you’ll find this church, to visit just if you have time (the train station is in front of it). Inside it’s very nice to observe the little mosaics that cover the side walls, in particular Giada loved the one which represents an unicorn: she has a big fantasy, so that just this one must be her favourite mosaic!
BATTISTERO DEGLI ARIANI
In my opinion it colud be interesting to visit the Neoniano Baptistery together with the Arian one. This last one is inspired by the first one conserving the same kind of setting, but the twelve apostles that in the Neoniano Baptistery acclaimed Christ as a divine creature, here acclaim the jeweled crown, and the clothes hanging from the arms is not more an expression of a divine nature, but of an earthly nature of Christ, as the Arian religion imposed. This religion has disappeared after many decades from the Council of Nicea.
It’s a simpler Baptistery than the Neoniano one, but it conserves the same beauty; we were impressed by the contrast between the magnificence of the mosaic and the simplicity of the rest of the Baptistery.
DOMUS DEI TAPPETI DI PIETRA
It’s an archaeological site at 3 mt. depth under the street, where you can see the mosaic floors belonging to a private bizantine housing of the V century. Particularly interesting are the mosaics decorated with floral and figurative figures, such as “La Danza delle Quattro Stagioni” and “Buon Pastore” in an unusual version. The first represents the personification of the four seasons dancing in circle and holding their hands, while on the background is a syrinx player ( a typical shepherd’s musical instrument); unfortunately summer remained damaged. All figures are realized with coloured tiles, largely with glass paste and waves in golden leaf, Very interesting place.
LA BASILICA DI SAN VITALE
It’s hard to describe the beauty of this church that begins from it’s external octagon-shaped form, surrounded by a very cured green area that enhances it’s charm! In the same complex it’s also situated the Galla Placidia’s Mausoluem, about which I’ll tell you her below.
The beauty theme of this church begins from outside to continue inside: its precious and golden mosaics belonging to the Bizantyne period, its columns that oblige you to look up towards the frescoed dome, and the completely painted floors with a beautiful labyrinth, symbol of the tortuous path the soul has to explore before reaching the Purification. We remained at least half an hour to admire this amazing church that represents exactly the town in which it is: a place not to big but full of beauty and value!
The construction of the church began in 525 when Teodorico was ruling, and ended in 548 under Giustiniano I Emperor. Considered an extraordinary example of Byzantine and early Christian art fusion, is included in UNESCO Heritage from 1996.
MAUSOLEO DI GALLA PLACIDIA
Ordered for herself from Galla Placidia, sister of Onorio Emperor, was however never used for the right purpose because she died in Rome, where she was also buried. The building seems independent, but actually a porch linked it to the near church of Santa Croce, always commissioned from Galla.
Outdoor simplicity betrays the sumptuousness of the indoor, thanks to the rich decorations: no need to tell you that San Vitale church and the Galla Placidia’s Mausoleum are my favourite monuments in Ravenna!
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In the last years I follow what Dalai Lama says:” At least once a year go to a place you’ve never been before”.
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