Official Tourist Information Site
of Ravenna

Cathedral or Basilica Ursiana

Piazza Duomo, 1 - Ravenna

Ravenna offers various religious itineraries around the city, but one of them is particularly interesting.

In the area of Piazza Duomo and Piazza dell’Arcivescovado there are some of the most significant religious building of the local history: the Archiepiscopal Palace (hosting the Archiepiscopal Museum and St. Andrew’s Chapel), the Neonian Baptistery and the Metropolitan cathedral of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, simply known as CATHEDRAL or BASILICA URSIANA.

It is a large and majestic building that draws the attention of whoever walks by it, inevitably inviting them to discover its story.

The Hagìa Anástasis of Ravenna

The Cathedral of Ravenna was designed when the capital of the Roman Empire was transferred from Milan to Ravenna, in 402 AD.

Built at the centre of the city, it was consecrated on April 3rd, 407 AD and dedicated to the Resurrection of Jesus (in ancient Greek Hagìa Anástasis). It was finally named “Basilica Ursiana” after its founder, Bishop Ursus.

It is possible to imagine the basilica-plan structure of the original building thanks to historian Andrea Agnello’s writings (9th century AD) and some archaeological excavantions. Probably divided into five naves separated by four rows of columns, it probably ended with an internally half-round and externally polygonal apse.

In 1112 AD, after a series of renovation works, the building underwent some changes – the mosaic decorations of the apse were completely reconstructed, and part of the remains of the ancient ones are now part of the collection of the Archiepiscopal Museum.

The “new” cathedral

But the real transformation of the building, that appeared significantly degraded, occurred in the mid-18th century.

Archbishop Maffeo Nicolò Farsetti decided to completely modernise the whole structure of the building in neoclassical style, as we see it today.

The cathedral was almost completely reconstructedonly the 10th-century cylindrical bell tower and the crypt (which is now submerged) were saved. The mosaics added in 1112 AD were removed or destroyed.

Today, the structure of the cathedral is completely different from the original one. The building has a Latin-cross plant, with three naves divided by two rows of columns.

At the intersection between the main nave and the transept is a 50-metres neoclassical dome, completely decorated with frescoes by Giovanni Battista and Andrea Barbiani, placed on a tambour surmounted by a lantern and divided by eight large windows.

The main nave leads to the side ones, which are divided into three rectangular-plan bays. On each side there are symmetrical chapels, some of them of outstanding beauty.

Besides the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, a special mention goes to the Chapel of Our Lady of Sweat at the bottom of the right arm of the transept (see focus).

The cathedral also hosts many religious works of art. Especially worth mentioning are: the altarpiece San Cristoforo by Antonio Rossi; the sarcophagus of Saint Exuperantius, containing the remains of the Bishop and of archbishop Maximian; the painting Gesù fra i Santi Antonio e Giacomo (Jesus between Saint Anthony and James) by Josep Baptiste Wicar; and bishop Agnello’s marble ambo (557 – 570 AD), decorated with animal figures.



The chapel of Our Lady of Sweat

Built at the expense of the people of Ravenna to thank the Virgin for saving the city from the plague, the Chapel of Our Lady of Sweat hosts a very venerated image. According to the tradition, it was once located in a small recess inside a cavern.

Legend has it that the holy icon started to “sweat” blood after being stabbed by a soldier, who was blinded with rage as he lost much money in gambling.

The miracle happened two other times over the years: in 1512 during the plunder of the bloody Battle of Ravenna and in 1630, when the people, scared of the plague, took a vow to the Virgin.

Today, the chapel hosts the small painting a two important sarcophagi dating back to the end of the 5th century AD: the first one contains the remains of archbishop Rinaldo da Concorrezzo, while the second the ones of Saint Barbiano, confessor of the Empress Galla Placidia.

The Virgin depicted in the dome was painted by Giovanni Battista Barbiani, while the four evangelists were painted by Andrea Barbiani.

Further information

Opening times

Working days: 7 am – 12 pm / 2.30 pm – 5.30 pm
Holidays and days before holidays: 7 am – 12 pm / 2.30 pm – 7.30 pm

Working days: 7 am – 12 pm / 2.30 pm – 6.30 pm
Holidays and days before holidays: 7 am – 12 pm / 2.30 pm – 7.30 pm


Entrance fee

Free admission.


The building is accessible to people with physical disabilities.

How to get there

The cathedral is located just next to Piazza Kennedy, right in the centre of the city, behind the Archiepiscopal Museum and beside the Neonian Baptistery.

On foot: the church is easily reachable on foot from the nearby railway station.

By bus: the area is served by local public transport. For more information click HERE.

By car: access to the historical centre is limited. For more information on parking areas click HERE.

A cura della Redazione Locale

Last edit:4 November 2022

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