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The suggestive charme of Byzantine Ravenna

Thursday 04 october 2018

The Byzantine masterpieces in Ravenna, which make this city one of the best and most important centers of the Byzantine culture in Italy: Saint Vitale's Basilique and the characteristic mosaic of Ravenna. Ravenna is a city in the north-east of Italy.

The suggestive charme of Byzantine Ravenna

Saint Vitale's Basilique in Ravenna was founded by Bishop Ecclesio in 525 AD, following his return from the trip to Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire, together with Pope John I. The work was financed by the rich banker Giuliano Argentario from Ravenna. The Basilique was consacrated in 548 AD by the bishop Maximianus, depicted in the interior mosaic. The architecture is of dominant Byzantine tradition: octagonal central plan supported by a dome resting on eight pillars and arches. The architectural model of San Vitale's Basilique has influenced the building of the Palatin Chapel of Aquisgrana, today's Aachen, located between Germany and Belgium, at the time the seat of the Holy Roman Empire of Charlemagne.

The mosaic ornamentation of San Vitale's Basilique covers the presbytery and the apse: it represents Christ, who with right hand hands a crown to the titular saint Vitale, an angel, and the bishop Ecclesio, who holds a model of this Basilique. Under this subjects there is a flowery meadow with heavenly peacocks.On the lower wall there are two imperial paintings: on the right the Byzantine empress Theodora, with an elegant purple dress, and the Magi offering the gifts, while in the left there is the Byzantine Emperor Justinian with patricians with a purple dress, characteristic of the Byzantin imperial guard. At the top of the arch that introduces to the presbytery  there is the bust of Christ surronded by an iridescent circle. In the typical mosaic images of Ravenna we see the passage from the Roman figurative tradtion to Byzantine one.

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