The splendour of mosaics in Ravenna
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and among the oldest buildings in Ravenna, the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia is a wonder waiting to be discovered in the city. The modest brick exterior, behind the Basilica of San Vitale, conceals stunning mosaics inside.
It was built in the 5th century AD by Empress Regent Galla Placidia as a mausoleum for herself and her husband Constantius III. However, it was never used for this purpose, because she died and was buried in Rome. It has a Latin cross layout and a dome hidden under a square turret that you can only see after walking inside.
The light entering through the alabaster windows shines on the yellow marble and mosaics covering every inch of the walls, arches and dome. In the centre shines a starry sky, with a golden cross surrounded by creatures of the Apocalypse, apostles and symbols representing eternal life triumphing over death, such as water jets and doves.
The most beautiful mosaic is above the entrance, depicting Christ as a shepherd among his flock. The mausoleum also houses three marble sarcophagi, one from Roman times and two from the early Christian period.