What Ravenna is Famous For? Gold Mosaic Tiles of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo Basilica

What is Ravenna Famous For? These 3 Things Might Surprise You

Nicknamed “The City of Mosaics” Ravenna is famous for being the last capital of the Western Roman Empire, its Christian churches lined with well-preserved Byzantine mosaics, and as the final resting place of Dante Alighieri.

What is Ravenna Famous For?

Are you planning a trip to the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and wondering if you should add Ravenna to your itinerary? Here are the top three things we think you should know about Ravenna before you leave it off your list.

Ravenna Was the Last Capital of the Western Roman Empire

Ravenna became a critical capital of the Western Roman Empire for three reasons.

First was its location. Ravenna is six miles from the Adriatic, on a low-lying plain where the Ronco and Montone rivers meet.

The second is because the Roman emperor Augustus built the port of Classis, a short 3 miles from Ravenna. Shortly after, Ravenna became the base for Rome’s naval fleet in the Adriatic Sea.

Finally, the danger of barbarian invasions compelled the Western Roman emperor Honorius to move his court from Rome to Ravenna in 402. Thus, Ravenna became the new capital of the Western Roman Empire until its dissolution in 476.

This history is significant for Ravenna because more rulers and their wealth followed the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

Consequently, both the Ostrogothic and Byzantine kingdoms influenced the art and architecture of Ravenna. Which makes Ravenna an elegant and fascinating place to visit in Italy.

Ravenna, Italy Mosaics

Although it was the last capital of the Western Roman Empire, what Ravenna is famous for among sightseeing tourists in Emilia-Romagna, Italy is its Byzantine mosaics worthy of their UNESCO World Heritage site status.

There are five UNESCO World Heritage Sites to see the jaw-dropping gold Byzantine mosaics Ravenna, Italy is famous for. They include the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, San Vitale Basilica, Sant’Apollinare Nuovo Basilica, the Neonian Baptistery, and The Archbishop’s Chapel of St. Andrew.

The video below gives you a quick tour of each.

Video of the Famous Mosaics of Ravenna, Italy

The churches of the Byzantine Empire in Ravenna are 1,500 years old and yet, they are among the best preserved examples of gold mosaic tiles in the world.

Ravenna, Italy Video Playlist for Tourists

Dante Alighieri is Buried in Ravenna, Italy

Italy’s most famous poet Dante Alighieri claimed Ravenna as his adopted home at the invitation of its ruler. You see, Dante had been exiled from Florence. He had aligned himself with the losing side of a war for control of the city.

By the time he died some 20 years later in 1321, Ravenna had become his adopted home. To this day, Dante remains tucked away in the “Zone of Silence” in Ravenna.

Therefore, Ravenna is also famous for being the final resting place of Dante.

Dante is significant among Italians because he frequently used his Tuscan dialect in his work. In fact, Dante completed The Divine Comedy around 1321. In so doing he influenced the Renaissance as the first great work of literature since the fall of Rome. 

Consequently, Italians credit Dante for playing a role in turning the Tuscan dialect into what would become the Italian language. Hence, Dante is the “Father of the Italian language.” 

Ravenna, Italy Video Playlist for Tourists

Final Thoughts on What Ravenna is Famous For

The Byzantine tile mosaics in Ravenna, Italy, are jaw-dropping. They alone would reason enough for Ravenna to be a famous destination in Italy. Add to that Dante’s connection to Ravenna as his final resting place. Plus, the history of Ravenna as the last capital city of the Western Roman Empire. What you have is a town rich with art, history, and culture.

Thank you for checking out today’s post. We welcome you to check out more shockingly beautiful churches in Italy. Or find out how church bells in Italy become part of living a slower pace of life here.

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References for Ravenna, Italy

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  1. I visited Ravenna with a friend back in February and we mostly church hopped lol! The weather was also on the gloomy rainy side but it was an easy trip from Milan!