Ravenna - Basilica of San Vitale
The Basilica of San Vitale is a church in Ravenna, Italy and one of the most important examples of early Christian Byzantine art and architecture in western Europe. The building is styled an "ecclesiastical basilica" in the Roman Catholic Church, though it is not of architectural basilica form. It is one of eight Ravenna structures inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The church was begun by Bishop Ecclesius in 526, when Ravenna was under the rule of the Ostrogoths and completed by the 27th Bishop of Ravenna, Maximian in 547 during the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna. The architect of the church is unknown.
The construction of the church was sponsored by a Greek banker, Julius Argentarius, of whom very little is known, except that he also sponsored the construction of the Basilica of Sant' Apollinare in Classe at around the same time. The final cost amounted to 26,000 solidi (gold pieces).
The church has an octagonal plan. The building combines Roman elements: the dome, shape of doorways, and stepped towers; with Byzantine elements: polygonal apse, capitals, and narrow bricks. The church is most famous for its wealth of Byzantine mosaics, the largest and best preserved outside of Constantinople. The church is of extreme importance in Byzantine art, as it is the only major church from the period of the Emperor Justinian I to survive virtually intact to the present day. Furthermore, it is thought to reflect the design of the Byzantine Imperial Palace Audience Chamber, of which nothing at all survives. The belltower has four bells, the tenor one dates to the 16th century. According to legend, the church was erected on the site of the martyrdom of Saint Vitalis. However, there is some confusion as to whether this is the Saint Vitalis of Milan, or the Saint Vitale whose body was discovered together with that of Saint Agricola, by Saint Ambrose in Bologna in 393.
The central section is surrounded by two superposed ambulatories. The upper one, the matrimoneum, was reserved for married women. A series of mosaics in the lunettes above the triforia depict sacrifices from the Old Testament: the story of Abraham and Melchizedek, and the Sacrifice of Isaac; the story of Moses and the Burning Bush, Jeremiah and Isaiah, representatives of the twelve tribes of Israel, and the story of Abel and Cain. A pair of angels, holding a medallion with a cross, crowns each lunette. On the side walls the corners, next to the mullioned windows, have mosaics of the Four Evangelists, under their symbols (angel, lion, ox and eagle), and dressed in white. Especially the portrayal of the lion is remarkable in its feral ferocity.
The cross-ribbed vault in the presbytery is richly ornamented with mosaic festoons of leaves, fruit and flowers, converging on a crown encircling the Lamb of God. The crown is supported by four angels, and every surface is covered with a profusion of flowers, stars, birds and animals, including many peacocks. Above the arch, on both sides, two angels hold a disc and beside them a representation of the cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. They symbolize the human race (Jerusalem representing the Jews, and Bethlehem the Gentiles).
All these mosaics are executed in the Hellenistic-Roman tradition: lively and imaginative, with rich colors and a certain perspective, and with a vivid depiction of the landscape, plants and birds. They were finished when Ravenna was still under Gothic rule. The apse is flanked by two chapels, the prothesis and the diaconicon, typical for Byzantine architecture.
Inside, the intrados of the great triumphal arch is decorated with fifteen mosaic medallions, depicting Jesus Christ, the twelve Apostles and Saint Gervasius and Saint Protasius, the sons of Saint Vitale. The theophany was begun in 525 under bishop Ecclesius. It has a great gold fascia with twining flowers, birds, and horns of plenty. Jesus Christ appears, seated on a blue globe in the summit of the vault, robed in purple, with his right hand offering the martyr's crown to Saint Vitale. On the left, Bishop Ecclesius offers a model of the church.
Justinian and Theodora panels
At the foot of the apse side walls are two famous mosaic panels, executed in 547. On the right is a mosaic depicting the East Roman Emperor Justinian I, clad in Tyrian purple with a golden halo, standing next to court officials, Bishop Maximian, palatinae guards and deacons. The halo around his head gives him the same aspect as Christ in the dome of the apse. Justinian himself stands in the middle, with soldiers on his right and clergy on his left, emphasizing that Justinian is the leader of both church and state of his empire.
The gold background of the mosaic shows that Justinian and his entourage are inside the church. The figures are placed in a V shape; Justinian is placed in the front and in the middle to show his importance with Bishop Maximian on his left and lesser individuals being placed behind them. This placement can be seen through the overlapping feet of the individuals present in the mosaic.
Another panel (not pictured) shows Empress Theodora solemn and formal, with golden halo, crown and jewels, and a train of court ladies. She is almost depicted as a goddess. As opposed to the V formation of the figures in the Justinian mosaic, the mosaic with Empress Theodora shows the figures moving from left to right into the church. Theodora is seen holding the wine.
Critiques | Translate
Sergiom (45214) 2013-08-22 5:36
J'aime beaucoup cette contre plongée qui donne beaucoup d'ampleur à cette intérieur et surtout à ce plafond monumental et coloré. Les détails sont superbes de netteté.
daddo (20593) 2013-08-22 6:32
Ciao Romano. this is one place i always wanted to see and on my last visit to Italy I almost got there. A lovely photograph which captures the beauty of the mosaics and the special light. beautifully preserves so that we can admire the craftsmanship of the ancients. Ciao. Klaudio.
Nicou (105595) 2013-08-22 6:38
quel facade fantastique toutes ces peointures murales sont sueprbes la mise en valeur est parfaite avec les arches en fond c'est vraimet un toute belle imagev bravo.
amaryllis (32051) 2013-08-22 7:47
Cette photo de cette église est splendide.
Ton cadrage la met bien en valeur et cet intérieur est sublime
Cet art byzantin est magnifique
Un vrai petit bijou
Merci de ce partage
timecapturer (36924) 2013-08-22 8:05
WoW! What an amazing place. I love your POV and the height it gives to the image as well as the beautiful detailing of the artwork. Astonishing colours and captured so magnificently. A true wonder and visually stunning.
jurek1951 (37040) 2013-08-22 8:12
a splendid photo of this famous place, the composition is spectacular, great lights and architectural details, Tfs,
lousat (63989) 2013-08-22 8:36
Ciao Romano,la foto e' un pochino rumorosa ma e' davvero difficile fare meglio con lunghi tempi di esposizione in ambienti poco illuminati come questi,ottimi i dettagli e molto brillanti i colori,hai corso il rischio e ne e' valsa la pena,questo interno e' davvero bellissimo e molto originale.Buona serata,Luciano
rychem (13535) 2013-08-22 10:03
What a beautiful and attractive interior photo, I like this mosaic decoration very much, perfectly well done
Noel_Byrne (13182) 2013-08-22 10:29
Vorrei solo dire WOW, ma so che in realtà non qualificarsi come una critica :) Questa è una di quelle scene che è per me, oltre le parole. La sua una forma d'arte di certo non mi vedo qui in Irlanda, ed è così delicato, sia per il disegno ed i colori, e anche il nome delle conjurs stile immagini di mondi di tanto tempo fa. Avete scelto un punto di vista ottimale per sparare questo, e con tale symettry perfetto e il controllo della luce. Grazie per la nota eccellente.
Augurandovi bene dall'Irlanda!
williewhistler (9787) 2013-08-22 13:42
Despite the demanding light conditions you have captured the beautiful details perfectly in a very appropriate format.Superb clarity.
A really nice piece of photography.
My best regards Les.
elenimavrandoni (9965) 2013-08-22 17:33
nota molto interessante e utile, sempre molto ben informato e esteso e una composizione molto impressionante e spettacolare
un lavoro fantastico!!
un carissimo saluto
jhm (127843) 2013-08-23 3:38
Thank you very much for your interesting notes.
What a lovely interior picture with wonderful details of the different paintings.
I like interior pictures certainly the splendid frescos.
Very well composition, TFS.
Have a nice weekend,
vjmite (3388) 2013-08-23 4:58
There is so much in this photo - the columns, the arches, the mosaic details, the gold highlights. The portrait format gives a feel for the height of the building.
holmertz (31174) 2013-08-23 11:42
This basilica, and some others in Ravenna, was among the most astonishing cultural experiences I have ever had. I was overwhelmed to enter this church and to see the marvellous mosaics with my own eyes and how the light comes in smoothly and beautifully. It was very long ago, and I was quite young, but it remains a fantastic memory. You have done it great justice with this spectacular photo, catching the colours with superb clarity without losing the great atmosphere.
mkamionka (27031) 2013-08-24 11:46
beautiful decoration, splendid interior.
I would like very much to see it in person! Very interesting perspective which makes me feel I am looking up. I like very much such rich interiors one can spend a lot of time trying to follow the symbols and what they mean.
Great exposition, excellent work,
Raz13 (137) 2013-08-26 19:42
Beautifully angled shot of a beautiful building.
It is a wonderful example of early Christian architecture.
Well done! Thanks for the detailed information.
adores (30773) 2013-08-29 10:34
A very beautiful basilica. I believe the green colour is not so common in these paintigs. Your pov is very good and the paintings are really interesting. The arches at the top are very nice also.
emka (64100) 2013-09-01 23:29
Ciao Romano, I have missed this splendid shot of San Vitale. Fantastic presentation, excellent colours, sharpness, and the light conditions are so difficult there. Ravenna is so rich in treasures. Some years ago there was a TE-meeting in Venice. I came to Italy earlier and run with my camera like mad around all these jewels.
I can't wait to see byzantine mosaics in Istanbul. But still more than a month to go there. And before many castles in Valley of Loire.
Have a nice week