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Religious Political message of the mosaics of the Ravenna


The great Religious and Political message of the mosaics of the Ravenna. Hotels near the Ravenna Mosaics.

The Messages and Allegories depicted in the Mosaics of the Ravenna Basilicas.


Photo: 1)Sant'Apollinare in Classe: an effigy of the bestowal of privileges to the Church of Ravenna,2)inside of Basilica S.Apollinare in Classe, 3)S.Vitale, the court of emperor Justinian, 4)S.Apollinare Nuovo, the mosaic of the city of Classe and the port, 5)S.Apollinare Nuovo, the mosaic of the imperial building, 6)S.Vitale, the sarcophagus of general Droctulfo


The decorations of the three main basilicas that still remain today clearly evidence messages directed to the local community, as well as to visitors to the imperial capital.

In San Vitale we can see the close political links between the bishop and the emperor: the loyalty of the Ravenna church to the Byzantine Court as well as the privileged status of the Archbishop Massimiano, depicted as the sole local interlocutor of the imperial family.

In Sant' Apollinare Nuovo the severe censorship inflicted on the two processions has actually erased the portraits of the direct protagonists, but it was careful to preserve the areas of Ravenna identity; the Holy city of Classe and the imperial building highlighting the will for a resumption of collaboration between the Bishop and the emperor; this time united in a common orthodox faith.

The major basilicas having highly complex functions, being sites of local remembrance being the burial grounds of some of the most stately classes, as well as bishops and leading personalities in the political affairs of Ravenna.

Going back to the 6th century, and General Droctulfo whose epitaph is handed down by Paolo Diacono; and the 7th century with the exarch Isaac: both buried in the sarcophagus of San Vitale.

Sant'Apollinare in Classe is probably the most significant of all the basilicas of Ravenna, featuring a blend of political messages, local memories as well as a skilled allegorical depiction which is a feature of each individual figure.

The church of Sant'Apollinare in Classe being a focal point of cohesion of the entire community, as it incorporates a monument of the tomb of the most important local saint.


Sant'Apollinare in Classe is the leading memorial of the Ravenna Church, from a strictly institutional point of view, as it houses the tombs of the Bishops from the 6th century onwards.


It is here that we find an effigy of the bestowal of privileges to the Church of Ravenna, in the figure of the Bishop Reparato - by Constantine IV (668-685); we can also find the epigraph dated 731 commemorating the donation by Archbishop John V of property to the Church.

Due to its symbolic significance Sant'Apollinare as well as being used for traditional liturgical functions was also used by different individuals for a variety of purposed, as for example the time when the clergy, in clear antagonism with the Archbishopric, met here in 666 under the guidance of the Deacon (the future Bishop) in open hostility to the local Ravenna bishops.

The word "allegory" signifies "text of hidden meaning".

On its first application during the Christian era,  allegory was a means of interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures and a means of discovering, aside from the actual narrated characters or facts, permanent truths of a religious or moral nature.

So that In practice, the literal significance of a text (even in figurative form) gives rise to a spiritual significance. Aimed at building up the soul of the believer.

In the following two texts we shall bind together the wonderful decoration of the apse of the basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe.


Prof. Gianni Morelli


The pleasure of fine accommodation in the centre of Ravenna: we recommend the Fabbri hotels for a pleasant stay as follows:

The Centrale Byron hotel, 3-star, in the centre of Ravenna, close to the monuments ;

The Bisanzio Hotel, 4-star hotel in the centre of Ravenna, close to the monuments ;

Once you have reached the hotel and parked your car, forget it and walk everywhere, because everything is within walking distance.

The railway station is near our hotels and within walking distance of them.

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