Architecture, Art, Churches, ITALY, Ravenna

The Italian city of Ravenna served as our first stop on the 2014 ISM Study Tour.  As our itinerary was designed to proceed chronologically through the cultural and artistic transitions of Italian history, we began with Late Antiquity.

Ravenna served as the Western Capitol of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, in the period following the Christianization of the Empire.  After the conquest of the Italian Peninsula by the Arian Ostrogoths, Ravenna served as the capital of the Ostrogothic Kingdom from 493-553.  When Emperor Justinian’s general Belisarius reconquered much of Italy during the Gothic War (535-554), Ravenna became capital of the Byzantine Exarchate of Italy, a position technically held by the city until 751, when it fell to the Lombards and decreased in importance.  The Byzantine Exarchate continued to survive in Southern Italy as the Catapanate of Bari.

Ravenna, now a small city of 160,000 inhabitants, contains many Late Antique monuments that attest to the translation of ancient pre-Christian artistic themes and motifs into a Christian visual language.  Renowned world over for its lavish mosaics, Ravenna is also home to an important school for the study of mosaic restoration.

For a short article about Ravenna, consult: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-05-10/travel/

All photos by Melanie Ross.