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city of Ravenna

Mausoleum of Galla Placidia

Via San Vitale, 17 - Ravenna
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Just behind the Basilica of San Vitale, hidden by the fronds of an immense plane tree, is the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, one of Ravenna eight Unesco monuments.

This little building was built in the first half of the 5th century aD as a funeral monument at the behest of Galla Placidia. She was the mother of the regent — the future emperor Valentinian III, daughter of Theodosius I the Great and sister of Honorius, the emperor who moved the capital of the Roman Empire to Ravenna.

However, it never fulfilled its purpose, since the empress died in 450aD in Rome and was buried there.

Even though it appears to be a separate building within the great complex of San Vitale, the mausoleum was originally connected to the narthex (portico) of the nearby Basilica of Santa Croce, which was later destroyed.

Looking it from the outside, it appears of small dimensions, laid out in a cruciform plan with a brick face wall, in a plain and clean style. At the junction of the four arms, the dome raises in a tiburio (dome with segments) with a square turret.

Overall, due to subsidence, i.e. the progressive lowering of the ground, the building seems lower that it was in the past — buried about 1.5 metres below ground.

Inside, the lower part is covered with yellow marble, while the upper part is decorated in its entirety with magnificent mosaics: walls, arches, lunettes and ceiling.

Between Hellenistic-Roman art and Christian tradition, the iconography depict on multiple interpretative layers the triumph of eternal life above death.

In the centre of the dome amid an immense starry sky is in all its splendour a golden Latin cross, the symbol for Christ the Rising Sun.

Around him the four Beings of the Apocalypse acclaim him, and, in the lunettes, the apostles stand surrounded by doves and waterspouts symbolising Grace drawn from the divine Source.

According to the same metaphor, in the lunettes to the East and West, the deer drink the sacred water of Baptism in a celestian garden. In the lunette in front of the entrance, next to a burning grill, stands Laurence the Martyr.

Above the entrance, the most precious mosaic: Cristo Buon Pastore (Christ the Good Shepherd) among his sheep.

Magnificent, everywhere, are the floral and geometrical decorations, which transform the semi-darkness of the funerary monument into a hymn to light and the visit to the mausoleum into a prayer of longing for Eternal Life.



Under a mantle of stars, between Earth and Heaven

For the visitor, the entrance to the mausoleum is an invitation to mystical discovery, the place and time to travel into a “different” dimension, poised between Earth and Heaven.

As soon as you enter the monument, you are immediately enveloped by a suggestive atmosphere thanks to the sudden switch from the outer light to the semi-darkness. It is an obliged transition that forces you to gaze upward and contemplate the mosaic decoration of the celestial vault made of golden stars set in concentric circles.

All this beauty exudes a powerful energy that has captivated the imagination and sensibility of visitors from all over the world for centuries.

Even the American jazz master Cole Porter, on his honeymoon in Ravenna, was so impressed by the magnificence of these decorations that he composed his famous song “Night and Day“.

Further information


Pursuant to the Decree of the Prime Minister of the Italian Republic (3 November 2020), all the Diocesan monuments will be closed to the public until further notice.


Admission: €10.50
Concession: €9.50€ (*)
The combined ticket includes the entry to Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Neonian Baptistery (**), Basilica of San Vitale, Mausoleum of Galla Placidia (**), Archiepiscopal Museum and Chapel. The ticket is valid for 7 consecutive days from the date of issue and entitles the holder to one entry to each monument

* Valid for Italian and foreign students during the school year; groups (min. 20 paying persons); for organizations with special agreements (see details)

** For the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia and the Neonian Baptistery is an additional charge of €2 and mandatory booking. The charge applies also to children over 6 and residents of the Municipality of Ravenna.

Tickets can be booked online or by contacting the Reservation Centre

In addition, tickets can also be purchased on the day of visit at the ticket offices located at each monumental complex:

• Archiepiscopal Museum, Piazza Arcivescovado 1
• Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Via di Roma 53
• Basilica of San Vitale, Via Argentario 22

For further information:


Children up to 10 years, citizens of Ravenna (with valid document), people with certified disability over 74% or “carta bianca” holders, ecclesiastics, servicepersons, tourist guides of Regione Emilia-Romagna at work. Journalists must request a written permit of free admission in advance to the Opera di Religione by writing to

For groups: 1 free tour leader every 20 paying visitors. For schools: 1 free teacher every 10 paying students


The Mausoleum is wheelchair accessible

Come Arrivare

The Mausoleum is situated in the limited traffic zone of the city centre. Bus stop 200m away (Line 70, Piazza Baracca); car parking area with fee in Piazza Baracca, guarded car parking area in Largo GiustinianoClose to Basilica San Vitale and National Museum

A cura della Redazione Locale

Ultima modifica: 25 February 2021