Basilica of Sant Apollinare
St. Lawrence Mausoleum of Galla Placidia
The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia
The ‘city of mosaics’ welcomes us for a five-day tour brimming with some of the most impressive early Christian monuments in the world
Stand opposite Ravenna’s earliest mosaics in the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, including an intense portrayal of the martyrdom of St Lawrence
The ancient port of Classe, founded by Augustus, awes us with its immense Basilica of Sant’Apollinare, shimmering with gold and turquoise
"Mark has so much relevant knowledge that is willingly shared and clearly communicated. He made the context of our visits brilliantly clear and brought static remains thoroughly ‘back to life’."
"Mark Corney is outstanding... We learned so much!"
- ACE customers on 2021 tours with Mark Corney
Today a small, tranquil town of cobbled streets, Ravenna was once one of the Mediterranean’s most illustrious cities. The final capital of the Western Roman Empire, Ravenna served as the seat of Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths, before the Byzantines transformed the city into one of Europe’s foremost centres of art and culture.
Ravenna’s surviving collection of early Christian monuments and mosaics is without parallel in Christendom, a beguiling blend of Greco-Roman tradition and Christian iconography. At the heart of this opulent legacy lies the Basilica of San Vitale, begun during the Ostrogoths’ rule and finished under Justinian, where the glittering mosaic portraiture of Justinian and his wife Theodora captures the essence of Byzantium: the emperor, set against a flat, gold background, is resplendent in imperial purple, a gold paten in his outstretched hand, a halo encircling his scintillating crown.
The seemingly humble Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, erected a century before San Vitale, boasts Ravenna’s earliest mosaics, including a vivid portrayal of the martyrdom of St Lawrence as he approaches the red-hot grid-iron. Breathtaking, too, is the interior of the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, erected by Theodoric and later re-consecrated under Byzantine rule: the twin nave mosaics depict a sparkling ceremonial procession of martyrs and virgins, saints and angels.
Just outside the ‘city of mosaics’ we will visit the ancient port of Classe, founded by Augustus, to view the huge Basilica of Sant’Apollinare with its exceptional mosaics rich in gold and turquoise. While here, we will have an opportunity to stop at the site’s excellent museum, which takes visitors on a journey back in time to explore the origins of Ravenna and Classe.
Accommodation is in Ravenna’s Hotel Bisanzio, situated in a quiet area of the city just a few steps from San Vitale and the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia. The hotel is generally of a 3* star standard and while the facilities are relatively basic, it is clean, comfortable and welcoming, and has particularly been chosen for its excellent location.
This tour will be led by Mark Corney, BA, FSA. Mark is a specialist in Roman history and former presenter on Channel 4’s Time Team. He is an honorary Research Fellow at Bristol University and a former investigator with the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. He regularly leads tours for ACE and is looking forward to returning to Ravenna with a new group of travellers in 2022.
Included: Return airfare, accommodation based on sharing a twin or double bedded room, breakfast, one lunch, dinner with wine, water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities.
Not Included: Travel insurance, single room supplement £95, double room for single use supplement £150.