Saturday, September 11, 2010

Basilica San Vitale, Ravenna

One would have missed out a lot if one has not seen this and many of the fine examples of Byzantine art and architecture. I visited Ravenna a few years after Sicily. In Sicily I saw some gorgeous Byzantine mosaics and these dates much later than the Ravenna mosaics. The cathedral at Monreale just outside Palermo is so incredible, though they have been restored, doesn't in any way diminish their importance. The mosaics at the Palatine chapel in Palermo, though on a much smaller scale is also very spectacular. We visited at a time when they were restoring them but they did leave the chapel opened to visitors. The importance of the Ravenna mosaics is they are an important example of very early Christian Byzantine art and architecture in Western Europe, the other early ones being in the East, in Istanbul, formerly Constantinople. The church in Ravenna was begun in 527 and completed in 548. It is the only major church to have survived in such a pristine condition from the period of Emperor Justinian. Justinian and his wife, Theodora is featured prominently in the mosaics adorning the interior of the church.They are absolutely amazing.

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