The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia is among the biggest attractions in Ravenna. Built between 425 and 450, the monument is world-famous for the mosaics that adorn the interior. Unlike the interior, the exterior is very sober. The Galla Placidia Mausoleum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Galla Placidia Mausoleum Ravenna
The address of the Galla Placidia Mausoleum is Via Argentario, 22 (tel. 800 303 999). The nearest bus stop is Porta Serrata (lines 2, 3, 5, 18, 70, 90, 140, 141, 161, 163, 195). Opening times: The Mausoleo di Galla Placidia is open from April to September from 09:00 to 19:00. In March and October from 09.00 to 17.30 and from November to February from o9.00 to 17.00. Closed: 1 January, 25 December. The entrance fee is 9.50 euros, but this includes the San Vitale Basilica, the Sant’Apollinare Nuovo Basilica, the Battistero Neoniano, the Galla Placidia Mausoleum, the Archbishop’s Chapel and the Museo. The discounted price is 8.50 euros. Children under 10, residents and the disabled can enter for free. (Note that prices and times may be subject to change.)
History and description
Galla Placidia lived from 386 to 452. She was the sister of Roman emperor Honorius, who declared Ravenna the capital of the eastern Roman Empire in 402. The monument was built after the year 426.
There is no written evidence that the building was actually intended as the empress’s mausoleum. What is certain is that she was buried not in Ravenna, but in a chapel below St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The monument has an irregular floor plan, which however resembles a Greek cross.
The exterior is kept extremely austere.
What to see
In contrast, the mosaics adorning the interior are considered to be among the most beautiful ones in Ravenna. The execution of the work was probably done by several artists. This can be concluded from the different thicknesses of the human figures depicted.
On the outside, the dome is kept out of sight by the drum. On the inside, one sees a Latin cross framed by a starry sky. The stars gradually become smaller towards the top. The lunettes of the dome are decorated with angels and apostles with raised arms.
The lunette at the entrance depicts the Good Shepherd. He is surrounded by sheep in the midst of pristine nature.
Opposite the entrance is another lunette. The figure depicts either Christ or San Lorenzo.
The spherical vault is decorated with garlands, flowers, fruit and geometric motifs.