Basilica of St. Vitale

Ravenna - Via Fiandrini Benedetto

Basilica of St. Vitale


Entry price: € 9.50
only cumulative: New S.Apollinare, Neonian, San Vitale, Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Museum and Chapel of the Archbishop. Reduced € 8.50, free for children under 10 years.


Always open
until 31 March 9 - 17:30 from 1st April 9 to 19. The ticket office closes 15 minutes before


Telephone: +39 0544 541688

Octagonal plan church, founded by Giulianus Argentarius, commissioned by Bishop Ecclesius and consecrated by the Archbishop Maximian in 548. The Basilica of San Vitale is among the most important monuments of early Christian art in Italy, above all for the splendour of its mosaics. The eastern influence, always presents in the architecture of Ravenna, has a dominant role here. No longer a basilica with nave and two aisles but a central octagonal plan, surmounted by a cupola and the whole supported on 8 pilasters and arches. The dome ceiling and the niches were decorated by frescoes painted in 1780 by Barozzi and Gandolfi of Bologna and Guarana of the Veneto. It should be Notesd that the floor is kept dry by pumps since it is below the level of the water table.

The labyrinth of the soul
On entering the Basilica of San Vitale the eyes are drawn up to the lofty interior volume, the stupendous mosaic decorations of the apse, the large spaces and the baroque frescoes of the cupola. Perhaps it is due to this upward pull that one does not notice a small and lesser-known jewel. In the floor of the presbytery, right in front of the altar, a labyrinth is represented on one side of the octagonal floor. Small arrows start at the centre of the maze and lead along a winding route towards the centre of the basilica. In the early years of Christianity the maze was often a symbol of sin and the way to purification. Finding the way out of the maze was the act of rebirth. Once the route through the maze in the floor of San Vitale has been followed, the eyes may be lifted towards the altar where the most beautiful mosaics of Christendom can be contemplated.

Source: local Staff of Ravenna


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