Ravenna is a treasure chest of art, history and culture of the first order; in its glorious past, it was capital three times between the 5th and 8th centuries and the magnificence of this period has left important remains that have come down to us today. Ravenna is the city of mosaic art which did not originate here but found its highest form of expression in a mixture of symbolism and realism, Roman and Byzantine influences and even today this ancient craft lives on in schools and workshops.
Within its ancient walls it keeps the richest heritage of mosaics dating from the 5th and 6th centuries. For this reason its early Christian and Byzantine religious buildings have been acknowledged as world heritage by Unesco; they include the simple outer shell of the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia hides a ceiling of infinite stars, the refined composition that decorates Neonian Baptistery is inspired by a cultured Hellenic tradition, recalled also in the Arian Baptistery, the regal style of the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo reveals its origins as a palatine church built by Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths, more than one hundred little birds lead you into the intimacy of the Chapel of Sant'Andrea in which the triumphant Christ is celebrated, the majestic Mausoleum of Theodoric covered by a massive block of stone in the cupola, the Basilica of San Vitale which is the greatest treasure of the early Christian era contains the portraits of the imperial Byzantine court, while outside the city the extremely elegant Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe has a wonderful apse depicting Christ and Sant'Apollinare, the first bishop and patron.
The cultural offer in Ravenna is based on the eight historic buildings recognised as World Heritage by Unesco in 1996 but its attractions and monuments are actually many more. Ravenna, in fact, is not only mosaic. Walking in the city you can meet the bell towers and monastic cloisters, Romanesque and Gothic examples, the frescoes in the style of Giotto in Santa Chiara, the Baroque apse of S. Apollinare Nuovo, without forgetting the relics of the last refuge of Dante Alighieri and the palaces that saw the loves of Lord Byron.
Those who meet Ravenna fall in love with it just as happened to Boccaccio who set one of his best stories here, to Gustav Klimt who clearly drew inspiration from it, to Hermann Hesse who visited and dedicated some verses to it.
Ravenna is Roman, Gothic, Byzantine, medieval, Venetian and finally contemporary, civil and hospitable, abundant with cultural events of international prestige which project it into the future.