Interior of the Basilica of St Apollinare Nuovo
Saint, Byzantine, Tourism, Building Exterior, Arcade, Basilica, Art, Mosaic, Arch, History, Ancient, New, Italian Culture, Famous Place, Italy, Europe, Church, Apollinare, emilia, Ravenna, Romagna, Apollinaris

© sansa55 / Getty Images

Basilica di Sant'Apollinare Nuovo

Top choice in Ravenna

An old legend states that Pope Gregory the Great once ordered the Apollinare's mosaics to be blackened as they were distracting worshippers from prayer. A millennium and a half later, the dazzling Christian handiwork is still having the same effect. It's almost impossible to take your eyes off the 26 white-robed martyrs heading towards Christ with his apostles on the right (south) wall. On the opposite side, an equally expressive procession of virgins bears similar offerings for the Madonna.

The basilica dates originally from the 560s, and its architectural fusion of Christian east and west can be seen in its marble porticoes and distinctive conical bell tower.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Ravenna attractions

1. Battistero degli Ariani

0.17 MILES

The €1 entry here (unique among Ravenna's Unesco sites) is no reflection of the quality of the artistry inside. The baptistery's breathtaking dome mosaic,…

2. Tomba di Dante

0.19 MILES

A son of Florence, Italy's Sommo Poeta (supreme poet), Dante Alighieri, was expelled from the city of his birth in 1302 for political reasons and spent…

3. Museo d'Arte della Città di Ravenna

0.23 MILES

Arranged in a converted 15th-century monastery abutting a public garden, Ravenna's permanent art collection is backed up by regular temporary expos. The…

4. Museo TAMO

0.32 MILES

This newer museum doubles-down on Ravenna's extraordinary history of mosaic work by chronicling 12 centuries of history, using technology and multimedia…

5. Museo Arcivescovile

0.38 MILES

A museum with a difference, this religious gem is on the 2nd floor of the Archiepiscopal Palace. It hides two not-to-be-missed exhibits: an exquisite…

6. Battistero Neoniano

0.39 MILES

Roman ruins aside, this is Ravenna's oldest intact building, constructed over the site of a former Roman bathing complex in the late 4th century. Built in…

7. Duomo

0.41 MILES

Consecrated in 1749, Ravenna's baroque cathedral was built atop the remains of a much earlier church. Artefacts from the original 5th-century cathedral…

8. Mausoleo di Galla Placidia

0.49 MILES

In the same complex as Basilica di San Vitale, the small but equally incandescent Mausoleo di Galla Placidia was constructed for Galla Placidia, the half…