A city of unrivalled charm, Ravenna boasts antique origins and a glorious past, having been three times a capital city of: the Eastern Roman Empire, the Roman-Barbarian kingdom of Teodorico, and finally, the seat of power to Byzantium in the West through the Exarchate.
The city is a real treasure trove keeping some of the most beautiful works in the history of art.
Eight monuments of Ravenna - San Vitale and the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia being the most famous - are included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites and have the richest heritage of mosaics dating from the fifth and sixth centuries.
The Roman Empire and the Byzantine Exarchate left a great heritage to the town, whose important political, commercial and artistic role in different periods finds its traces in the splendour of the monuments.
The elegant centre that runs in winding streets - now dotted with elegant shops – is reminiscent of a past as a centre dominated by a lagoon, with a charming view of the city walls and crossed by slow waterways. These canals were closed at the end of the 15th century, when the town was under the control of Venice, thereby creating new spaces that could be dedicated to the city, like the one that hosts the elegant main square, Piazza del Popolo. In the 18th century a new waterway - today's harbour, called Candiano by the citizens of Ravenna - restored the connection between the town and the sea, thus giving back the place its old marine vocation.
The Byzantine and Paleo-Christian basilicas, the baptisteries, Romanesque churches, the cylindrical bell towers from the tenth and eleventh centuries, the frescoes by Giotto in the church of Santa Chiara, the crypts, the places where Dante Alighieri spent his last years, buildings and cloisters of Renaissance architecture left by the Venetians, elegant seventeenth and eighteenth century palaces in the town centre, the new precious discovery of the Domus of Stone Carpets, archaeological areas in the nearby Classe, where important evidence of the antique Port of Augustus is still being discovered: all this makes Ravenna an undisputable city of art.
Religious buildings in Ravenna recognised as World Heritage sites