Official Tourist Information Site
of Ravenna

Old Franciscan Cloisters

Via Dante Alighieri, 4 - Ravenna

Next to Dante’s tomb, the monumental complex of the OLD FRANCISCAN CLOISTERS is a corner of paradise and refined beauty in the heart of the city centre of Ravenna.

Even though it has undergone changes more than once over the centuries, the building has a high symbolic and moral value. As a matter of fact, it is a reminder of Dante Alighieri‘s presence in the city.

Even the newly reopened Museo Dante proves it: on the first floor of the museum is a journey through the works, life and memory of Dante Alighieri.

Today, the Old Cloisters are owned by Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Ravenna. Beyond the Dante Museum, the cloisters are also a fascinating venue for exhibitions and artistic and cultural events.

The history

Built in the Middle Ages (1261), the building was a cloister of the Minor Franciscan Friars, set just behind the Basilica of San Francesco, which hosted in 1321 the solemn funerals of the Supreme Poet.

Between the 15th and 17th century, a series of works overlapped the original structure. The current aspect of the Old Franciscan Cloisters dates back to the 20s, when the entire area dedicated to Dante took on the Romantic design you still see today.

On the occasion of the 6th centenary of the Supreme Poet’s death, other religious buildings connected with Dante’s memory have undergone several restoration works. Among them there were the Basilica of San Francesco, the Quadrarco di Braccioforte, Dante’s Tomb itself, on a project by architect Giulio Ulisse Arata (who also signed on the restoration projects of the Provincia Palace, just a few steps from the area).

Two cloisters in one soul

The complex counts two cloisters, one next to the other, with an in-between space used for exhibitions and conferences.

The first cloister is called “Dante” because of its vicinity with his tomb. It features a refined portico, embraced by columns with Doric capitals. At the centre, a well is framed by two columns with Byzantine capitals of the 6th century AD, maybe coming from the Basilica of San Vitale.

The second cloister is called “della Cassa”. It is rectangular-shaped and has a portico of columns made of Istrian stone, red Verona marble and Greek marble. The puteal standing at the centre is made of Istrian stone as well.

It is decorated with two urns and two crests engraved on it, on which stands out an eagle with the motto “In Pietra Exaltavit Me”.

On the western side is a slab stone that reminds of the extraordinary event of the Dante’s spoils snatching, which were hidden in 1519 by the Franciscan friars in order to prevent them to be brought back to Florence – Dante’s birth city.



Chiara and Francesco by Augusto Bartolotti

The wrought iron statue of St. Francis of Assisi is located today in the old Franciscan Cloisters. With this statue, Augusto Bartolotti earned the prize at the 1960 Biennial of Sacred Arts in Bologna.

This is how Gian Roberto Cavalli described it:

On the stone, with the iron, the spirit of its maker designed your face, and you search across space, looking for the divine love. The strong iron molded under the earthly fragility, and the body is devastated. The hands, though, splendid and tragic, preserve, untouched, the kind wealth of will and passion.

Not far from there is the Statue of St. Chiara, created in the same year, and  Cavalli has said: “Spirituality is combined with a delicate iconography, which recalls a poetic 13th-century femininity or, in a manner of speaking, ‘Stilnovismo’”.

Felice Nittolo reminds of how Augusto Bartolotti “is, and remains, a supreme poet of iron, among the few artists that were able to celebrate man’s dignity and the universal truth that distinguishes and dignifies human experience”.

Further information

Opening times

Until 31st March
Every day:
10 am – 6 pm

From 1st April
Every day: 10 am – 7 pm

Closing time

Closed on 25th December.

Free of charge

The admission is free.


The Cloisters are accessible for people with disabilities.

How to get there

The Old Franciscan Cloisters are in the very heart of Ravenna, in a pedestrian area closed to the traffic, in the so-called Zone of Silence (Basilica of San Francesco, Dante’s Tomb, Museo Dante, Quadrarco di Braccioforte).

On foot: the area can be easily reached on foot from the near railway station

By bus: the area is just 20 m. from the bus station Piazza Caduti della Libertà, connected with all the urban bus routes.

By car: the area is mainly closed to the traffic and with restricted access. If you want to find a suitable parking lot, look HERE.

A cura della Redazione Locale

Last edit:21 May 2024

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