Be Dazzled by the Mosaics in Ravenna The brilliance of the mosaics glittering within Byzantine churches and monuments is especially touching because the heavenly and earthly scenes are so painstakingly and sincerely rendered -- a last hurrah before Europe slipped into the Dark Ages. Photo Caption: Sant'Apollinare's apse mosaics depict the eponymous saint, Ravenna's first bishop. Photo by Riccardo De Luca
Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna.The church was begun in 527, when Ravenna was under the rule of the Ostrogoths, and completed in 548 during the Byzantine Exarchate. 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.