Galla Placidia (386-452), sister of the Roman Emperor Honorius who had transferred the Capital of the Western Empire from Milan to Ravenna in 402 AD, built this little Mausoleum with a Greek cross plan around 425-450 as her own resting place. However, the mausoleum was never used for that purpose, because the empress died and was buried in Rome in 450.
Now a separate building, the mausoleum was once connected to the south side of the narthex of the close Church of Santa Croce, erected by Galla Placidia between 475 and 500.
The outside of the building is very sober compared to the magnificence of the inside, decorated with mosaics made even brighter by the golden light filtering through the alabaster windows. The lower surfaces of the interior are covered with marble slabs, while the upper part of the building – including the walls of the vault, the lunettes and the cupola – is entirely decorated with mosaics. The themes represented in the mosaic decoration show traces of the influence of both Hellenic-Roman and Christian tradition and aim at representing the victory of eternal life over death from different perspectives.
The atmosphere of the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia is undoubtedly magical. The countless stars of the cupola have deeply stirred the imagination of many visitors of Ravenna, for instance Cole Porter who, during his honeymoon in the city, was so impressed by the starry sky of the small mausoleum that he wrote his famous song Night and Day.
From 26th March: every day 9am - 7pm
From 1st July to 2nd September: special openings on Tuesdays and Fridays 9pm-11pm during Mosaico di Notte festival.
Last admittance 15 minutes before closing time.
The Mausoleum is closed on December 25th.
The ticket includes the entry to Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Neonian Baptistery, Basilica of San Vitale, Mausoleum of Galla Placidia,** and Archiepiscopal Museum and Chapel.
* Valid for Italian and foreign students during the school year; valid for organizations with special agreements (see details).
** From March 1st to June 15th, an additional charge of 2€ applies to the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia. Mandatory booking for groups.
Children up to 10 years, citizens of Ravenna, disabled people and carers, ecclesiastics, soldiers, journalists (with document). For groups: 1 free tour leader every 20 paying visitors. For schools: 1 free teacher every 10 paying students.
The Mausoleum is wheelchair accessible.
The Mausoleum is situated in the controlled traffic zone of the city centre. Bus stop 200m away (Line 1, Piazza Baracca); car park with fee in Piazza Baracca, guarded car park in Largo Giustiniano. Close to Basilica San Vitale and National Museum.
Edited by the editorial team
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Last modified date: 13/06/2016