The beauty of Ravenna

The Emperor Justinian (483 – 565) and his clerics, Apse mosaic of the Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna

It wasn’t my first trip to Ravenna, but I saw some things I hadn’t seen before. And I also got some images that I hadn’t captured before. Rather than do a whole lot of analysis, I thought I’d share some video (sorry if it gives you motion sickness at points) of a few amazing places.

Here is a little background on Justinian, the emperor who was based in Constantinople, but who (along with his wife and former dancer, Theodora) provided material support for the mosaics at the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna. Justinian (actually his generals, including Belisarius) recaptured much of the western empire (from North Africa to Italy to Dalmatia) from the hands of the Ostrogoths and Visigoths and Vandals. The other thing for which he is remembered is the recodification of Roman law, which still holds sway in some countries. The Code of Justinian unified hundreds of year of Roman civil laws, bringing them into a single code.

So, here are some videos that walk you through three buildings: the Basilica of San Vitale, the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia (386-450, daughter of the emperor, Theodosius), and the Arian Baptistery. (The Visigoths who controlled Ravenna were Arians, who unlike orthodox Christians in Rome, weren’t as sure about the coequal status of Jesus and God, the first person of the Trinity.)

San Vitale 1…watch for Justinian!
Watch for Theodora. Apparently, Gustav Klimt sat for hours studying her, and you can see the influence in his “Lady in Gold.”
More from San Vitale
The oratory of St. Andrew, the bishop’s prayer chapel.
The Arian Baptistery. Look for the crab claws atop the head of the river god!