UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Ravenna – the resting place of Dante Alighieri

An ancient city which served as the capital of the West Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, today Ravenna is the capital of the province with the eponymous name. It is very well-known for its very impressive mosaics dating all the way back to the 5th century again.

It is also the location of an impressive eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, named simply as Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna. Ravenna has a number of museums, cultural events, galleries and it even serves as the final resting place of the legendary poet Dante Alighieri.

Piazza Del Popolo, Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Piazza Del Popolo by Georges Jansoone

At one time the city was part of a lagoon, but the canals were covered and a central square, the Piazza del Popolo was created during the rule of Venice in the 15th century.

If you are here you should absolutely visit the heritage sites scattered around town, as they will offer great opportunities to explore the local culture and history:

1. Mausoleo di Galla Placidia

Mausoleo di Galla Placidia serves as the final resting place of Aelia Galla Placidia, daughter of Emperor Theodosius I. She was a consort to two other rulers, the Goth king Ataulf and the short-lived Emperor Constantius III.

Today her mausoleum is known for its incredible mosaics, possibly the best-preserved ones in the world and according to UNESCO one of the most perfect ones as well.

Mausoleo Galla Placidia, Ravenna, Italy
Mausoleo Galla Placidia, Ravenna, Italy by Martin Belam

2. Battistero degli Ortodossi

Battistero degli Ortodossi, also known as Battistero Neoniano, is a religious building originating from the end of the 4th century or beginning of the 5th century by Bishop Ursus.

It was originally a part of a great Basilica which was unfortunately destroyed in 1734.

The Baptistry is an octagonal building considered to be the most perfect example of early baptistry that survives until this very day. It is an ancient monument to times gone but not forgotten.

Ceiling of Battistero Neoniano, Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Ceiling of Battistero Neoniano by Incola

3. Battistero degli Ariani

Battistero degli Ariani is a monument from the Arian cult which was the religion of the Court of Theodora, the wife of the Roman Emperor Justinian I.

The mosaic on the dome depicts the baptism of Christ accompanied by the 12 apostles.

Battistero degli Ariani, Ravenna-Emilia, Romagna, Italy
Battistero degli Ariani by JoJan

4. Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo

Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo is an ancient church of the Palatine, beautifully decorated with gorgeous mosaics which depict early Christian and Arian beliefs.

Basilica di Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo by Matthew Black

5. Basilica di San Vitale

A 6th century octagonal Basilica di San Vitale has mosaics depicting Emperor Justinian I and his wife Theodora and their court, the rulers of the Byzantine Empire.

Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy
Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy by Tango7174

6. Cappella Arcivescovile

A gorgeous Cappella Arcivescovile is a chapel with amazing mosaics depicting Christ, flowers and a truly staggering number of birds of many different species.

It is a part of Museo arcivescovile on the first floor of Arcivescovile Palace.

Cappella Arcivescovile, Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Cappella Arcivescovile by Incola

7. Mausoleo di Teodorico

Mausoleo di Teodorico is the final resting place of Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths. Made of Istrian limestone it is a beautiful structure in the popular octagonal shape.

Mausoleo di Teodorico, Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Mausoleo di Teodorico by Eulenjäger

8. Basilica of Sant’Appolinare in Classe

Basilica of Sant’Appolinare in Classe can be found right outside of the city of Ravenna, on the site of the ancient Roman seaport of Classe.

It holds the remains of many archbishops who were interred here throughout the centuries.

Basilica di Sant'Apollinare in Classe, Ravenna, Italy
Basilica di Sant’Apollinare in Classe, Ravenna, Italy / Photo by Luigi Tazzari

Honorary Mention: The Dante Museum

Dante Alighieri is an author well-known across the world, a man of legendary status. This museum holds many things concerning his life and his remains buried here in 1789 when his tomb was built.

This is not his birthplace and his body rests here since he was banished from Florence because of his work on the Divine Comedy.

Dante Alighieri tomb, Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Dante Alighieri tomb by Husky

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