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Municipality of Ravenna

Church of Santa Croce

Via Galla Placidia, 15 - Ravenna
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In the area of the San Vitale complex, just behind the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, in one of the most charming areas of the historical centre, is the deconsecrated CHURCH OF SANTA CROCE.

Despite the external architecture seems to be of little value, various research studies have confirmed the importance of this building.

Thank to archaeology, it was possible to better understand the renovation of this part of the city following the relocation of the capital city of the Roman Empire, from Milan to Ravenna (402-403 AD).

The history of the complex

In the first half of the 5th century AD, at the behest of Empress Galla Placidia, the building was built on top of an abandoned Roman domus (whose remains are still visible in the area). It is a three-nave building preceded by an extended narthex.

At its ends, there were two symmetrical chapels dedicated to the veneration of the saints, that formed a cruciform plan with the church.

Today, the only remaining chapel is the so-called Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, that was probably dedicated to Saint Lawrence, as showed by the wall mosaic on the inside.

The church was probably adorned by rich decorations, which have almost disappeared today (polychrome marbles, wall mosaics and stuccoes) – similar in splendour to the nearby mausoleum.

Over the centuries, the Church of Santa Croce was used and renovated in many different ways.

Today, it is only possible to see the 15th-century apse, the 17th-century austere facade and the 18-th century bell tower.

At the beginning of the 17th century, the frontal part of the building was finally reduced and separated from the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, in order to make room for the road that it overlooks (Via Galla Placidia).

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Galla Placidia’s favourite church

According to the tradition, the Church of Santa Croce was one of Galla Placidia’s favourite ones. She usually went there at night, praying on the porphyry floor in the light of the candles.

The fact that a Theodosian Empress decided to dedicate the church to the Santa Croce is not fortuitous. There is a clear reference to the Basilica of Santa Croce in Jerusalem that Elena, mother of emperor Justinian I, had built in Rome.

The image of the cross was particularly important for Galla Placidia. Not only had she financed the realisation of the mosaics in the Basilica of Santa Croce in Rome, but also used the cross as her symbol on the coins.

Further information

Opening times

The church is now closed to the public

Closing time

The church is closed to the public, it is only open on the occasion of special events.

Accessibility

The building is not accessible.

How to get there

The church is located in the historical centre, in a Limited Traffic Zone.

By bus: line 70, bus stop in Piazza Baracca

On foot / by bike: the church is located in the historical centre of the city and is easily reachable by bike

By car: parking lots in Piazza Baracca (paid) and Largo Giustiniano (guarded parking located next to the entrance of the complex). Click HERE for more information on parking lots.

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

Last edit:21 March 2022

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