dark blue Ceiling Mosaic of the galla placidia mausoleum. Built between 425 and 433, this small mausoleum adopts a cruciform plan, in Ravenna, Italy on November 4, 2012

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Mausoleo di Galla Placidia

Top choice in Ravenna

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-sister of Emperor Honorius, who initiated construction of many of Ravenna's grandest buildings. The mosaics here are the oldest in Ravenna, probably dating from around AD 430.

Note that visits are often restricted to five minutes.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Ravenna attractions

1. Basilica di San Vitale

0.05 MILES

Sometimes, after weeks of strolling around dark Italian churches, you can lose your sense of wonder. Not here! The lucid mosaics that adorn the altar of…

2. Domus dei Tappeti di Pietra

0.17 MILES

Not nearly as impressive as the Unesco site mosaics, but still worth a look for serious aficionados, these 6th-century floor mosaics from a 14-room late…

3. Battistero degli Ariani

0.33 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,…

4. Battistero Neoniano

0.36 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…

5. Duomo

0.37 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…

6. Tomba di Dante


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…

7. Museo Arcivescovile


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…

8. Basilica di Sant'Apollinare Nuovo

0.49 MILES

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…