San Vitale Basilica

Travel tips you can trust


Why the
San Vitale Basilica
is special

Its mosaics are the finest, best-preserved, and most significant early-Christian mosaics in Europe. The interior Byzantine architectural setting enhances their intrinsic quality.

San Vitale Basilica
tips and insights

Why the building
and mosaics are
decidedly Byzantine

The church was built in the 6th century when the Byzantine Empire controlled the region.

Why did the
church choose
mosaics over paintings?

The structure is slowly sinking into the ground and has been for centuries. This creates excessive humidity. Fortunately, the designers elected to use mosaics as the artistic medium. Mosaics last much longer than frescos in an enclosed moist-air environment.

Some other insights
on the mosaics

The mosaics are vibrant and expertly orchestrated. The artists placed some tiles at a slight angle to create special color effects. Two of the main mosaics prominently feature the Byzantium Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora. Mosaic appreciators will also enjoy visiting the nearby Mausoleum of Galla Placidia.

There's another
San Vitale Basilica

Rome, too, has a venerable San Vitale Basilica - which has led to confusion among tourists. The Rome version is notable but not as outstanding as Ravenna's.

Location in Italy

Read my other Italy pages

Wonders of Italy - Complete list
Italy wonder map
Basic Italian phrases
Italian cuisine
Best time to visit Rome




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