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Ravenna Italy

It's difficult to say whether history or architecture lure more visitors to Ravenna, a low-lying city in northeastern Italy. The one-time capital of the Byzantine Empire remains a treasure trove of religious art, with so many UNESCO-listed landmarks you might need multiple days to see them all.

Ravenna has been called a city of mosaics. Inside numerous churches, baptistries and tombs scattered throughout the city, you'll find some of the world's most well-preserved Early Christian mosaics. Ravenna boasts no less than eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites dating from the fifth to sixth centuries. The Basilica di San Vitale is one of its most spectacular – an octagonal church featuring some of the world's finest examples of early Christian Byzantine art, whose vibrant mosaics depicting scenes from the Old Testament cover its altar and apse. The Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo contains slightly older mosaics that depict martyrs and virgins. Don't miss the Mausoleo di Galla Placidia, a fifth-century mausoleum built for Roman emperor Honorius's sister containing mosaics and sarcophagi.

Ravenna is most famous for its mosaics, but that's not the city's only claim to fame. In the churchyard of San Francesco, you'll find the tomb of Dante – the famous Italian writer of 'The Divine Comedy' who died here in 1321. You can also visit the Dante Museum to learn more about his life and work.


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