In many ways, the city of Ravenna may cast a sense of despondency on the unsuspecting traveller disembarking from the train. No immediate sense of medieval - simply contemporary civil dross. And yet, and I mean and yet! The Basillica San Vitali and its mausoleum ( Gallia Placida) alone could be considered worth the trip. In many ways, this early sixth century basillica was a model for the spectacular Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. It is octagonal and clearly byzantine in its design and decor. Perhaps rather plain and relatively uninspiring from the exterior, once you step inside a wonderous world opens up.
Lush mosaics adorn the walls and ceilings in an abundance of rich colours which burn themselves into ones eyes through the mists of bygone mythologies. The Emperor Justinian, together with the Empress Theodora (the dancing girl) and their counterparts provide a naive representation of early medieval faces and poses. Magnificent images of paradise and and the magi adorn walls and ceilings in unforgetable richness. Both the dome and geometrically intricate marble floor motifs are spellbinding and worthy of lengthy contemplation. The almost perfect scale of columns and dome lure one into an exquisite and sensual aura of long-diminshed contempletative thoughts and sensibilities. The highly figured marble columns vault skywards - adorned with striking patterns and imprints which convey the detailed and meticulous selection of materials used throughout the building. And then you step ouside and the Gallia Placida hails you into another more concentrated, but no less intense celestial marval.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.