Ravenna travel guide

Ravenna is the capital of the province of the same name in the Emilia-Romagna region. The city has nearly 160 thousand inhabitants and has the second largest area in the country after Rome. For a time in the early Middle Ages, Ravenna was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. The city boasts eight sights that are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Ravenna travel guide

Useful information

Mosaic, San Michele in Africisco Church
Mosaic in the San Michele in Africisco Church

Tourist information: Piazza San Francesco, 7 – Ravenna (tel: +39 0544 35404). Opening hours: From 08:30 to 19:00 (Sunday from 09:30 to 17:30).

Town hall: Piazza del Popolo, 1 – Ravenna (tel: +39 0544 482111).

Railway station: The city has its own train station, close to the city center. It is on the line between Ferrara and Rimini and is the terminus of the line starting in Castelbolognese. The Flixbus stop is on Via Trieste, 180 Pal de Andrè – Ravenna (about 2 kilometers from the central station).

Tourist attractions

Built between 1734 and 1735, the Cathedral is flanked by the Baptistery.

The Palazzo Comunale was built in the 15th century, but completely restored later in the same century and in 1681.

The San Vitale Basilica is part of a larger complex and iused to be seen as the symbol of the power of the Eastern Empire.

Until 1685, the San Francesco Church was the final resting place of Dante Alighieri.

The Sant’Apollinare Nuovo Basilica was built between 493 and 496 and was founded by the King of the Ostrogoths Teodorico. Originally constructed for the Arian cult, it was converted into a Catholic church in 560. The Baptistery of the Arians dates from the 6th century. The Mausoleum of Teodorico is also in Ravenna.

The Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe is located about 8 kilometers outside the city proper.

The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia was built between 425 and 450.

The Rocca di Brancaleone is a castle built in the 15th century by the Venetians, which was used to keep the population under their thumb.

For children, but actually for adults as well, Ravenna has one of the largest amusement parks in Italy. Mirabilandia features a large number of roller coasters and various water rides.

A brief history of Ravenna

The first settlement on this site dates back to the 5th century BC and was of Etruscan origin. Later the Umbrians would take over the city, but from 191 BC it came under the Romans. It became a Roman colony and under Augustus a military port the seat of the fleet that was to cover the eastern Mediterranean.

Under Honorius, the city increased in stature, as the latter preferred Ravenna to Milan as the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire because of the sea. After the fall of the empire, it became the capital of the kingdom under Odoacre and then under Teodorico. During this time, it became an important commercial city.

After the Greco-Gothic War, Ravenna was an outpost of the Byzantine Empire from 553 to 751. In the 5th and 6th centuries, it was the capital of the Exarchate.

In 751 the city was occupied by Astolfo and in 754 by Pipino. Two years later Ravenna came into the hands of the Church.

From 1287, the city was owned first by the Traversari family and then by the Polenta. In 1441 Venice took control of it, which lasted until 1509. After this it came back into the hands of the church. After the war between the Holy See and Louis XII, the city was pillaged.

Between 1796 and 1815 Ravenna was in the hands of the French, after which it came back into the possession of the pope. After a revolt in 1859, Ravenna became part of the new Italian kingdom.

How to get to Ravenna by car

The SS309 takes you to Venice, the SS16 to Rimini, and the E55 to Cesena.


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