23 August 2014

In which emperors and princes and city councils share a vision forRavenna

We left the ship on the Po river early Thursday morning, and bussed to Ravenna, an old capital city from the medieval era. Chosen by emperors because it was set inland between mountain ranges and bordered by rivers, the original construction of the city was much like Venice - canals for streets and buildings built on sand and silt.
Very cool (but hard to see) purple glass on the light fixtures on a municipal building
The real draws of the city are the impressively well-preserved mosaics in a couple of churches and a mausoleum. Individual pieces of glass are set at varying angles in lye binder to catch the light and refract it for maximum sparkle.
Side view of the mosaic ceiling just before the apse
The main basilica is incredibly plain on the outside, but boasts a beautifully mosaic-filled apse and an octagonal nave with baroque frescoes.
Basilica di Sant’Apollinare
Central dome of the octagonal nave

Ravenna also boasts the tomb of Dante, mosaic workshops, and the most efficient post office I've ever visited. Most amazing to me is that over the course of nearly fifteen hundred years, rulers and town councils consistently chose to preserve, restore, and promote the jewels of the city.  

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