Ravenna, Italy’s Arian Baptistry

Arian Baptistry, Ravenna Italy
photo by the author

Few Places stand out among my travels as much as the inspiring historic mosaics of Ravenna, Italy. Although I spent only a single day in Ravenna, I managed to view almost every ancient church that boasted a set of Byzantine Mosaics.

Ravenna’s history goes all the way back to the time of Emperor Augustus, who designated the Porto Di Classe as a headquarters of the Eastern Mediterranean Fleet. The mosaics of Ravenna however, would not be created until nearly four centuries later. In 402 CE, Ravenna, not Rome was the capital of the Western Roman Empire. Ravenna fell into the hands of the Germanic Gothic tribes in 476, and changed hands back to the Eastern Roman Empire in 540. It was during this century and a half of chaos that some of the most spectacular works of art were created.

The image above is a detail from the ceiling of the Arian Baptistry, my favorite of all the Ravenna churches. I try to imagine the artist, creating this painstaking work of art of the baptisim of Jesus one tile at a time. Arianism, although deemed heretical, was celebrated by the Goths under king Theodoric, who built the Arian Baptistry in the late 500’s.

If you go to Ravenna, all of the churches are within an easy walking distance, except St. Apollinare in classe, which requires a taxi to the port. Be sure to start early and visit the Arian Baptistry above, Apollinare Nuovo, Basilica of St. Vitale, Galla Placidia’s Mausoleum, and the Neonian Baptistry.

About Visiting Ravenna
Ticket Prices EUR 9,50 (combo ticket)
Hours: varies but most are 9a-5p

Map of Ravenna
Map of Ravenna Mosaic Churches



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