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  • The Good Shepherd mosaic, Mausoleum of Galla Placidia

  • Arian Baptistry ceiling mosaic

  • Mausoleum of Empress Galla Placidia

    Image by Richard Mortel on Flickr via CC BY 2.0

  • Interior of the Basilica of San Vitale

  • The Basilica of San Vitale

  • The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia

Overview
Itinerary
Fitness / Practicalities
Tour Director


  • 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

“Nick was both extremely knowledgeable and able to communicate this in a very accessible way”

– ACE customer on a 2024 tour led by Nick Jackson

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 new museum, which takes visitors on a journey back in time to explore the origins of Ravenna and Classe.

 
Accommodation is in Ravenna’s three-star standard Hotel Bisanzio, situated in a quiet area of the city just a few steps from San Vitale and the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia. While the facilities are of a more basic standard, the hotel is clean, comfortable and welcoming, and has been selected particularly for its excellent location.

 

Tour Director Nick Jackson graduated from the Institute of Archaeology at University College London, and proceeded to a career as a field director excavating the ancient history of the Eastern Mediterranean in Turkey and the Near East. After a research post at the University of Cambridge, he began work as a guide lecturer in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and Oman, and has continued leading tours to the present day.

 

Back-to-back tour opportunity

Customers travelling on this tour may also wish to consider booking on our Aquileia: City of Antiquity tour, which will run in close proximity to this tour, from September 8-13, 2025. Contact the ACE office or click the link below for more information:

 

View tour details

Days
5
Cost
£1795
Tour Code
RAV2-25


Included: return airfare, accommodation based on sharing a twin or double bedded room, four breakfasts, one lunch, four dinners with wine, water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities & all taxes.


Not Included: travel insurance, single room supplement £105, double room for single use supplement £165.

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