Just a few kilometres south of Ravenna, the site of the Archaeological Park of Classe raises in all its grandeur. It is composed of the port and business area of the ancient city of Classe.
It is a park open to the public of about 10,000 sqm. that offers a synchronous visit experience to the ancient port of Classe of the period between the 5th and the 6th century AD.
A bit of history
The settlement of Classe raised around the 27 BC, on an initiative of Emperor Augustus. As a matter of fact, the emperor decided to set the military fleet in Ravenna, in order to safeguard the eastern part of the Mediterranean. The long canal harbour made of several basins was able to host up to 250 military ships.
After the capital of the Western Roman Empire moved from Milan to Ravenna, the settlement underwent some changes. At the beginning of the 5th century AD, the port was reorganized in order to fully pursue its business aims; it namely had to receive, preserve and redistribute the great amount of goods and foodstuffs arriving in the city.
In that moment, the Civita Classis that we still see today in the mosaic of the Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo (6th century AD) originated.
The port became an important seaport on the Adriatic, the sea front door to the whole Po valley.
Sadly, the golden age didn’t last long – less than two centuries. The economic crisis, the fall of the commercial traffic and the silting of the communication canals led to the decay of the area starting from the 8th century AD.
What to see
There are two ways to visit the Archaeological Park of Classe:
- freely, following the itinerary marked by information panels;
- with a professional guide, booking a guided tour.
Along the itinerary, you will see a series of panels that show the history of the Ancient Port of Classe, from its origins to its decay.
Walking along these remains of history, you can see the openings to the sea and the cobbled-stone Roman street used for the mooring. Moreover, you can enter the former warehouses where the goods were storaged.
The installation of five perspectival panels depict the reconstruction of those buildings, which, melting with the actual surrounding landscape, give a glimpse of what they used to look like during the port’s period of splendour.
Many objects found during the excavations, such as marbles, lamps, amphoras, and valuable items, are today exhibited inside the Classis museum. Along with the Ancient Port of Classe, it gives an accurate and updated picture of this area’s histsory between the 5th and the 6th century AD.