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OTHON III  WONDER OF THE WORLD  (980-1002). Hotel for breaks in Ravenna: enjoy Ravenna centre.


Images:)1) Othon III, 2)Knowlegde Table, 3) Crowning of Othon  III, 4)Pope Silvester II, 5)Crown of S.Stephan of Hungary, 6) Statue  of Charlemagne, 7) S. Apolinnare in Classe Ravenna, 8)The vallies between Ravenna and Comacchio


"Mirabilia Mundi"- this was his nickname in Europe when he died aged twenty-two. Maybe for his great dream, his brief and adventurous life, or for the spectacular clothes and buildings that he loved, his culture and mystic exaltations. One thing is sure, even today Othon III is known as the heroic and lively character that illuminated the history of the foundation of Europe.

He was just three years old when his father died and he was crowned at Aquisgrana with help from the kingdom's great clergymen. Three women and two barons kept an eye on his fortune and he grew up between the army, language study and prayer. At fifteen years of age in 995 his guardianship ended and the pope, as always surrounded by Roman nobility at the palace, invoked him as saviour and offered him the imperial crown.

This time, however, Othon did something rather disquieting: he came to Ravenna and - Pope John XV having disappeared in the meantime - brought his cousin, Bruno di Carinzia (Pope Gregory V), straight to the papal threshold. By doing so, Othon tore the papacy from the hands of the clergy and the Roman families; he established a new solidarity between the kingdom and priesthood; and he set himself up as an example of science and uncorrupted life compared to the ambition of the pontiffs.

In 996 he received the imperial crown from Gregory and for the occasion wore a wonderful light blue cloak, embroidered with scenes of the Apocalypse. He was acquainted with and eternally linked to two great figures of the era: Adalberto of Prague, an anxious soul and model of the ferment that was brewing in Eastern Europe, and Gerberto of Aurillac, the 10th century's most cultured man.

Two years later he returned to Rome to free the pope from the siege of the nobles once more and his sentence was merciless: Count Giovanni Crescenzio was beheaded and hung upside-down at Castel Sant'Angelo; the antipope had his tongue, ears and nose removed and his hands broken, he was blinded and thrown in a cell to languish. Othon III chose Rome as his imperial seat and built a new building on the Aventine affirming the rebirth of the Roman Empire, on the side of the pope and against Byzantium.

The following symbolic actions that marked Othon III‘s destiny with an almost spasmodic speed: Gerberto of Aurillac was named bishop of Ravenna and immediately afterwards - Gregory had died - pope under the name Sylvester II. The central and southern Italian principalities were subjected to the empire. Moreover, the year 1000 saw the unique union of emperor and pope as the undisputed masters of Rome, united in their interests and under imperial leadership, who ruled both kingdom and ministry.

Othon reformed the map of Europe with new Christian kingdoms along the Eastern border while Sylvester II forbade the alienation of clergy goods, so putting a stop to the corruption of the clergy.

After spending Christmas in Ravenna, in February he was in Poland: a barefoot pilgrim at Adalberto's tomb; in May he was in Aquisgrana where he did something that was either genius or madness: he uncovered Charlemagne's tomb and stole the cloak and pectoral cross which he then wore until his death.

In 1001 both pope and emperor, besieged in Rome during a riot of the Romans, escaped to Ravenna and the Roman curate moved to Sant'Apollinare in Classe. Here Othon and Sylvester call an ecumenical council in which bishops from all over Europe and the new churches of the East would take part, as well as the abbot of Cluny and even the Ravenna-born Romualdo - a hermit a few kilometres from Ravenna who was to become the Emperor's last confessor and counsellor.

Othon then became a disciple of Romualdo, promising to become a monk. But first he wanted to reconquer Rome and needed soldiers. He started negotiations with the Venetian Doge Pietro Orseolo and sent messengers to Constantinople officially asking for Princess Zoe, Constantine VIII's daughter's hand in marriage. During the summer he zealously moved between Classe and the valleys of Comacchio seeking counsel from Romualdo.

Having received reinforcements, in January 1002 Othon left Ravenna for Rome, but passed away before arriving on 24th January. His soldiers dressed him in his purple cardinal cloak, put his body on his horse and, with the dead emperor apparently alive, continued along the road to Germany. On 5th April Othon was buried in Aquisgrana next to Charlemagne.

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 hotel in the centre of Ravenna;

The Bisanzio
, 4-star hotel in the centre of Ravenna;

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.

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