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Municipality of Ravenna

Domus of the Stone Carpets

Via Gian Battista Barbiani - Ravenna
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Not far from the Basilica of San Vitale, in the basement of the late-baroque Church of Sant’Eufemia, you can visit the stunning DOMUS OF THE STONE CARPETS, considered by many people one of Italy’s most important archaeological sites discovered in the last decades.

Renamed by the critic Federico Zeri during his visit to the site, the area is a prestigious complex of residences dating back between the 1st and the 6th century AD, embellished with “stone carpets” – marble and mosaic floors with a strong decorative value.

A journey through history

Between 1993 and 1994, the Superindentence for archaeological heritage of the Emilia-Romagna region stopped the construction of an underground park in Via D’Azeglio due to the discovery of a complex of buildings dating back between the Roman Republican times and the Byzantine age.

What stood out among the various archaeological stratigraphies was a 700-sqm complex (the so-called “Byzantine palace”) made up of 14 rooms and 2 courtyards.

It is datable to the 6th century AD and – considering the magnificence of the discovered materials – was probably owned by a very rich family of the city.

The excavations brought to light different phases of attentance that cover a very wide time-span ranging from the late-Republican times (with some even more ancient traces, dating back to the 4th-3rd century BC) to these days.

In particular, archaeologists found a number of residences dating back to the period of the High Roman Empire; a thermal plant and a residence of the 1st century; a building of the 4th century; an early medieval residence and a necropolis probably connected to the church, whose foundation served as the basis for the 18th-century Church of Sant’Eufemia.

What to see

Raised walkways allow you to walk around the entire perimeter of the site and admire the wonderful floor mosaics characterising it.

During the set up of the museum, much space was given to the phases of the rich Byzantine residence with the merging of two buildings originally separated by a still visible paved Roman road.

All the spaces of the building were paved with marble inlays or polychromatic tesserae with refined patterns and figured inserts.

Among these ones, you cannot miss the large banquet hall with the mosaic representation of the seasons (Dance of the Geniuses of the Seasons), dancing to the sound of a musician (Pan).

It is possible to identify Autumn from behind, Spring on the left, Winter covered by a hood and a hint of Summer, that unfortunately has gone lost.

In the beautiful, marvellously decorated reception hall, the enlargement created with the mosaic extension beyond the frame of the first flooring is noteworthy.

Noteworthy is also the representation of a shepherd, maybe a Good Shepherd, referring to a more ancient building (see focus).

The Church of Sant’Eufemia

The Church of Sant’Eufemia is located almost in the middle of Via Barbiani.

It was built between 1742 and 1747 on a design by architect Buonamici – the one that also designed the Cathedral – on the foundations of a more ancient paleochristian temple that according to the legend was the seat of the first apostolate of Saint Apollinaris.

CONTACTS

FOCUS

A mosaic of the Buon Pastore (Good Shepherd) from the 4th century

In addition to the Danza delle Stagioni, the Domus of the Stone Carpets displays another exceptional mosaic panel belonging to a period prior to the Byzantine residence, dating back to the end of the 4th century AD.

The so-called Buon Pastore mosaic floor was renamed as such immediately after two peacocks were discovered next to a handsome young man leaning on a stick among grazing animals.

The two peacocks, which were at the top of the branches of the plants, intimated a sort of halo, or at least a reference to a symbolic hagiography, on the shepherd boy’s head.

Hanging from the branch of the tree are also pan-pipes, a musical instrument that in classical symbology could refer to the story of Orpheus.

It is difficult, in fact, to imagine such a religious representation at that time, which was already so standardised, as that of the Buon Pastore.

Further information

Opening times

From 8th November
From Tuesday to Sunday:
10 am – 5 pm

From 26th December to 8th January
Every day:
10 am – 6.30 pm

Closing time

Until March 10th, the Domus of the Stone Carpets is closed from Monday to Thursday. 

Entrance fee

Ticket: €4
Concession: €3

Admission + guided tour for school: €4 per pupil (free admission for teachers)

Guided tour on request: tel. 320 9539916. Email: prenotazioni@ravennantica.org

Advanced booking is highly recommended on: info.ravennantica.it

Free of charge

Children under 6; journalists; people with disabilities, members Amici di RavennAntica; group chaperons, Romagna Visit Card holders, licensed tourist guides, soldiers, MIC employees (Ministry for Culture).

Accessibility

Accessible to people with disabilities (lift supports up to 190 kg).

How to get there

The Domus of the Stone Carpets is located within a controlled traffic area of the city centre, with entrance from the Church of Sant’Eufemia.

By bus: route no. 1 (stops in Piazza Baracca)

By bike: the museum is in the city centre of Ravenna and is easy to reach by bike

By car: car parking in Piazza Baracca (paid); Largo Giustiniano (secure parking next to the entrance of the Domus); Piazza Della Resistenza (less than 1 km on foot). For more information about parking areas click HERE.

A cura della Redazione Locale
E-mail: turismo@comune.ravenna.it

Last edit:11 November 2022

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