Sant'Apollinare in Classe--page 1 (of three pages)

549 C.E.--date of consecration by Bishop Maximian (the same bishop who consecrated San Vitale in Ravenna)

View of the exterior, much altered from the original church

Located outside the city of Ravenna in what had been the Roman port city of Classis, this early Christian basilica is an important example of Byzantine art and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site as well. It is dedicated to Saint Apollonaris (Apollinare in Italian), a native of Antioch who became the first bishop of Ravenna and Classe and who was martyred for his faith.
This image was taken in 1983 wheareas all the other images below were photographed in 2006.

View toward apse and central altar

The interior (55 x 30 meters) is three-aisled with two rows of 24 monolithic veined marble columns on square bases. The side walls were originally covered with marble (removed by Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta in the 15th century to adorn his temple in Rimini) and the floor was originally mosaic, a few fragments of which survive.

Apse and side aisles

The well-proportioned interior space features a nave that is twice the width of the side aisles. A flight of twelve steps leads up to the apse. A triumphal arch, with mosaics that are later in date, demarcates the semi-circular apse. See page 2 for mosaic details and description.
The paintings over the arches are of a late date (18th century) and represent a chronological series of bishops from Ravenna. Between the five windows in the apse are life-sized figures of the four bishops of Ravenna. These portraits represent the historical development of the church of Ravenna founded by Saint Apollinare.

Nave columns

The Byzantine capitals are referred to as a "butterfly" form because the acanthus leaves are set two by two, like the wings of a butterfly. They are also described as "leaves blown by the wind" since the leaves seem swollen as if by a breath of wind. The drill marks (a kind of perforation) are part of the design.

Views toward the entrance

Continue to page 2--apse mosaics.

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© 2006 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.