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Ravenna Overview




Most recent photos of Ravenna mosaics

Basilica di San Vitale

The Ravenna Baptisteries

Basilica di Sant'Apollinare Nuovo

Basilica di Sant'Apollinare in Classe

Basilica di San Giovanni Evangelista

Mausoleum of Theodoric, Tomb of Dante, Memorials

Around Ravenna

Ravenna Restaurants

Map of Central Ravenna






Ravenna was important to the Roman Empire because of its nearby port at Classis, which had been built by the Emperor Augustus as the main Adriatic port for the Roman navy.  In 402 the Western Roman Emperor Honorius fled Rome and set up Court in Ravenna, but the Empire only staggered through to 476, when the Barbarian Odoacer took over until he was killed by Ostrogoth King Theoderic ("the Great") in 493.  Theoderic died in 526, just too early to witness the 540 takeover of his capital in the name of Byzantium by Justinian's legendary general Belisarius.  The city remained the Capital of the Byzantine Government in Italy for nearly two hundred years. 


Despite being badly bombed in WWII (many of the bombs dropped in a raid by the USAAF "on the railway" in August 1944 fell well short of their intended rail-yard target), Ravenna today is home to dazzling displays of late Imperial Roman and Imperial Byzantine architecture and mosaics, all but one location (the Basilica di San Apolliniare in Classe) easily accessible on foot (no hills either) if (as you must be) you are based near the friendly and quiet little town centre.  This is one of the few cities where the traffic free zone really is, and the only sound is (mostly) Italians greeting and chatting.  The food and wine is amongst the best in Italy! 


If driving, be prepared for a few Kms of indifferent suburbs before you get to the oasis in the centre.  To help car drivers, the navigational Dom has prepared some directions (link) .....






Latest photos of Ravenna's Mosaics


Hotel Centrale Byron


The Hotel Centrale Byron (***)  Via IV Novembre, 14,  is located in the flat vehicle free food rich centre of Ravenna (map).  An ideal base for easy walks to all the sights in town, and for shopping, coffees, restaurants, or just joining in the passeggiata.  All that a good three starrer should be including good sized rooms (and a meeting room if you need that!), very helpful English speaking reception staff and competitive pricing. There is a large metered car park (free on Sundays) five minutes walk away and the hotel has its own car park as well.  Make sure to look at the Paradoxplace "how to find central Ravenna" page so you arrive relaxed in this delightful spot.






Basilica di San Vitale (consecrated 548) - the biggest, most imperial and sumptuous of the churches, and the little mausoleum built by Galla Placidia (in the four hundreds) in the grounds of the basilica.





The baptisteries - Battistero degli Ariani (built late four hundreds), Battistero Neoniano (most ancient of Ravenna's ancient monuments - dating from late three hundreds)





Basilica di Sant'Apollinare Nuovo (built in the late four hundreds)








Basilica di Sant'Apollinare in Classe (consecrated 549) - out of town at the site of the ancient port







Basilica di San Giovanni Evangelista (consecrated 425), which contains the only known pictorial record from the 4th Crusade





Tombs and Memorials, including the Mausoleum of Theodoric (454 - 526) (Ostrogoth King of Italy) and the Tomb of Dante (who died in Ravenna in 1321 in exile from Florence)








Around Ravenna




Ravenna is the home of the best food in Italy, and is also into slow food.  It's worth staying a few days just to enjoy this and the quiet traffic free surroundings - just ask the hotel reception staff for their advice and bookings.  Note also that there are some very good local wines and there is no need to go for price inflated Chianti Classico type labels.


We have now had one good and one outstanding (ink pasta with prawns, melt in your mouth swordfish in a light tomato based sauce, alcoholic fresh strawberries) meals at nearby L'Oste Bacco (via Salara 20, 0554 35363, closed Tuesday) - an energy filled informal trattoria.  Amongst other restaurants tried with success have been the Della Venezia (next door to the Centrale Byron, closed Sunday), the restaurant / wine bar Capello further up Via IV Novembre (41) (Sunday lunch embraced pasta, lamb chops and Ceregio Sangiovese di Romagno). The Ristorante La Gardèla (via Ponte Marino 3, 0554 217147, closed Thursday) is a bigger and bit more regimented place but has equally good well priced food (try especially the local pasta -  Cappelletti - probably served al Ragu). 



Link to Wikipedia Ravenna Pages



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