Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe

The Basilica of Sant' Apollinare in Classe is an important monument of Byzantine art in Ravenna, Italy. When the UNESCO inscribed eight Ravenna sites on the World Heritage List, it cited this basilica as "an outstanding example of the early Christian basilica in its purity and simplicity of its design and use of space and in the sumptuous nature of its decoration".

The imposing brick structure was erected by order of Bishop Ursicinus (Ursicino), using money from the Greek banker, Iulianus Argentarius . It was certainly located next to a Christian cemetery, and quite possibly on top of a pre-existing pagan one, as some of the ancient tombstones were re-used in its construction.

Sant'Apollinare in Classe was consecrated on May 8, 549 by Bishop Maximian and dedicated to the first bishop of Ravenna and Classe. The Basilica is thus contemporary to the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna. In 856, the relics of Saint Apollinare were transferred from the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe to the Basilica of Sant' Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna.

The exterior has a large façade with two simple uprights and one mullioned window with three openings. The narthex and building to the right of the entry are later additions, as is the fine 10th century bell tower.

The interior contains 24 columns of Greek marble, which terminate in a green mosaic of meadows and sheep. The faded frescos depict some of the archbishops of Ravenna, and date to the 18th century. The lateral walls are bare, but were certainly once covered with gorgeous mosaics. These were likely demolished by the Venetians in 1449, although they left the mosaic decoration in the apse and on the triumphal arch in situ.

External links

* [http://www.paradoxplace.com/Perspectives/Venice%20&%20N%20Italy/Ravenna/San%20Apollinare%20in%20Classe.htm photos]
* [http://proxy.racine.ra.it/racine/ravtur/classe1.htm Virtual tour]
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