State Party - UNESCO beni culturali



State Party - UNESCO beni culturali
The Early Christian monuments
Region of Emilia Romagna
State Party
Republic of Italy
23 October
by State Party
The eight Properties included in this nomination
of late antiquity and mosaics in the world.
and mOSaicS Of RaVenna
the most outstanding
The State Party dOeS not make any proposals concerning
be inscribed on the World Heritage List in the nomination
the criteria
of religious
under which the Proper-h’ should
Category of property
In terms of the categories of property set out in Article 1 of the 1972 world
represents a group of buildings.
the Ravenna
History and Description
In the reign Of AUgUStUS the port Of Classis was established at Ravenna as the imperial base in the northern
Adriatic. Following the barbarian invasions of the 5th century HOnOriUS made it his capital after the sack of Rome
by Alaric the Goth in AD 410. His sister, Galla Placidia, who was married to Attila’s son AtaUlf, lived in Ravenna
during her widowhood
in the first half of the 5th century, and made it a centre of Christian art and culture.
With the deposition
of Romulus AugUStUlus, the last western Emperor, by the HUnS in 476, and their
subsequent defeat by Theodoric the OStrOgOth, Ravenna entered into a period of prosperity and influence. It was
taken by Belisarius in 540 and remained the centre of Byzantine control in Italy until 752.
Its subsequent history was one of decline and stagnation.
Changes in the course of the PO SeriOUSlV
damaged its trade. From 1441 to 1509 it was under Venetian rule and then came under Papal control. It remained
a backwater for centuries, as a result of which it underwent little rebuilding and preserved teStimOnytO its earlier
glory to a remarkable degree.
The MaUsOleUm of Calla Placidia
This Small cruciform brick building was built in the second quarter of the 5th century. It has a Plain bare
exterior lightened
by pilasters that meet in arches and is crowned by a brick dome concealed by a Small
quadrangular tower. Owing to subsidence it is partly below ground level.
The interior is lavishly decorated. The lower part is clad in panels of yellow marble and the remainder
iS entirely COVered in mOSaiCS. There is a golden Latin cross in the centre of the dOf’?7e
Vaulting surrounded by
golden stars on a deep blue background.
The four beasts of the Apocalypse figure in the PendentiVeS. FOUr Pairs
of apostles, their hands raised in benediction, are depicted on the four sides of the drum. The walls are decorated
with a Variety of scenes, notably the martyrdom
of St Lawrence on the wall facing the door. The lunette above
the entrance shows the Good Shepherd, seated on a boulder in a meadow with a rocky background.
The building is in the western Roman architectural
It is the earliest and best PreSetVed of all
mosaic monuments,
and at the same time one of the most artistically perfect.
It represents a Perfect blend of
the Hellenistic-Roman
artistic tradition with the iconography
of Christianity.
The Neonian
This building, constructed by Bishop Orso in the early 5th century, was decorated
successor, Neone, around 450. It Stands t0 the north Of the Present cathedral.
mosaics by his
The octagonal baptistery is built in brick, relieved by pilasters. Like the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, it is
now Partly below ground level. The interior consists of four apses, articulated into two orders of arches, rising
to the great Cupola. The large mosaic medallion at the apex of the dome ShOWS the Baptism of Christ by John the
Baptist. Below this comes a band depicting the procession of the twelve Apostles. This SUrmOUntS a band of eight
architectural scenes, alluding to the Holy City. The upper drum is an imitation gallery, each niche Containing the
figure of a Prophet. Scenes from the Gospels figure in the lower zone.
This iS the finest and most complete surviving example of the Early Christian baptistery.
It retains the
fluidity in representation
of the human figure derived from Greco-Roman art. Especially worthy of note is the
harmonious relationship between the mosaic decoration and the architectonic
structure of the building itself.
The Basilica of Sant’Apollinare
This originated as the palatine church of Theocloric, and was built next to his palace in the early years of
the 6th Cents.
It was originally dedicated to Christ, later to St Martin, and in the mid 9th century to St
Apollinare, first Bishop of Ravenna.
The basilica is nOteWOrthy for its simplicity in design. Built in brick, the facade has a tymPanUm and is
framed by two Pilaster Strips and pierced by a mullioned window.
Inside the interior is divided by twenty-four
marble columns into a nave and two aisles, with a rounded apse. Various Changes have been made to the interior
in the centuries since its original construction.
The interior must initially have been entirely decorated with mosaics and mural paintings, but much of
these disappeared during 16th Century reconstruction
work. At the present time mosaics cover the two Side walls
at the foot of the nave, from the ceiling to the tops of the supporting arches, in three decorated fascias. The
Outer band shows a procession of martyrs and virgins, the centre consists of white-robed
male figures (probably
prophets), and the innermost is devoted to the miracles and passion of Christ. ThOSe in the upper two fascias are
in traditional Roman style whilst those in the third show strong Byzantine influence.
Both the exterior and the interior of the basilica graphically illustrate the fusion between the Western
and eastern SWleS characteristic of the late 5th-early 6th century. This is one of the most important buildings from
this period of crucial cultural significance in European religious art.
The Arian Baptistery
Built by Theodoric
next to his cathedral, it was reconsecrated
in 561 and became an oratory dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
with the overthrow
of the Arian heresy
It iS a small brick building, octagonal in Plan with four flat sides and four with PrOtrUding apses. Externally
it is divided into two by a cornice. The upper part is topped by a brick cupola, with a semi-circular arched window
on each side.
The interior Walls are now bare brickwork, though excavations have shown that them originally to have
been clad in Plaster, marble, and mosaics. Only the dome retains its mosaic decoration.
The central medallion
shows the young Christ in the waters of the river Jordan, with St John the Baptist facing him. The broad band
SUrrOUnCling the Central medallion is occupied by the twelve ApOStleS with crowns in their hands.
The iconography of the mosaics, whose quality is outstanding,
Trinity, a somewhat unexpected element in the art of an Arian building,
The Archiepiscopal
is of importance in that it illustrates the
since the Trinity was not accepted in this
The Private Oratory of the Orthodox
and later to St Andrew.
bishops was built around
500; it was originally
to Christ
The chapel, on the first floor of the present Bishop’s Palace, is in the Shape of a Greek cross with an apse
on the eastern arm; it is covered by a cross-vault and preceded by a rectangular vestibule. The IOWer Part of the
walls is covered with marble, with mosaics above (although some of these were replaced by tempera Paintings,
the Work Of LUCa Longhi, in the 16th century). The lunette over the vestibule door shows a Warrior Christ against
a gold baCkgrOUnd. The barrel vault is a grid of white lilies and rosettes, partly in tempera, giving the impression
of an a0 Pergola with birds and animals in the compartments.
The apex of the cross-vault is a medallion bearing
the Chi-Rho monogram,
by four angels with raised arms. There are medallions in the four arch
intradoses of the vaulting.
The significance of this proper-Q is the fact that it is the only Early Christian Private oratory that has
SUNiVeU to the present day. KS iconography
is also important by virtue of its strongly anti-Arian svmbolism.
The Mausoleum
of Theocloric
This building was constructed
by Theodoric himself, shortly before his death in 526, OUtSide the City walls
in a Gothic burial grOund. Its subsequent history was somewhat chequered: Theodoric’s body was removed after
Justinian’s edict condemning ArianiSm in 561 and it became an oratory, with a square tower surmounting
it that
Served as a lighthouse.
It became partly submerged as a result of silting from the nearby river Badareno, and was
not drained and excavated until the 19th Century.
Unlike the other early buildings of Ravenna, the mausoleum was built of carefully worked stone blocks
imported from lstria, constructed
Without mortar but connected by iron Clamps. It is in tW0 StOrevS, the IOWer
ten-sided with a niche and a small window in each side. The upper storey is smaller, deCagOnal UP to door lintel
level and then circular. It is surmounted
by a ledge decorated by a “pincer” frieze, a characteristic element of
Gothic art.
The Significance of the
Byzantine art, although it makes
been abandoned fOUr centuries
Period. The hypothesis has been
have become familiar during his
maUSOieUm lies in its style and decoration,
which owe nothing to Roman or
use of the Roman stone-construction
technique of opus QUaUfatUm, which had
before. It is the unique surviving example of a tomb of a barbarian king of this
advanced that its form derives from Syrian influences with which Theodoric mav
Spell in the service of the Byzantine Emperor Zeno.
The Church of San Vitale
This building was commissioned
by Bishop Ecclesius after his return from Constantinople
in 525, and it
was COmPleterl around 547. It is built on the site Of a 5th century church commemorating
the martyr St Vitale,
which was incorporated
into the new structure.
It was fronted by a large quadroportico,
which was converted
into a Cloister when the church became part Of a Benedictine tTIOnaSter)f.
The church is octagonal and constructed using the large flat bricks typical of all the buildings erected by
Justinian. There are two storeys, the upper one encircling the dome. The apse, which is semi-circular on the
interior and Polygonal on the outside, is flanked by two small rectangular rooms terminating
in niches and tW0
semi-circular sacristies.
Inside the architecture
is one of impressive space and light. The centre is surrounded bv eight massive
pillars sheathed in Greek marble which reach up to the drum of the dome. The cupola itself, 16 m in diameter,
is made up of a number of concentric
rings of twin terracotta pipes, whose lightness obviated the need for
massive side walls; they are less than 1 m thick. It is decorated with baroque frescoes executed in 1778-82, and
in stark COntKXt to the architectonic
purity of the structure.
Of especial interest are the columns and capitals of the triforia, which are tall and slim, probably imported
from the east. The impost capitals are in the form of lotus leaves, creating an elegant transition from the Circular
The closest parallels for these are to be found in
section of the columns to the rectangular
Six of the eight sections of flooring are in marble and date from the Renaissance. The remaining two are
from the 6th century and consist of a cantbafos out of which come fronds that fill the space with their
with among them small birds and bunches of grapes. Stucco decoration from the 6th CentUrY also
SUNiVeS on the intracioses of the arches of the presbytery.
This form of floral decoration is predominant
in the
presbvten/ itSelk the mosaic figures of the four Evangelists and the Old Testament scenes are juxtaposed with a
profusion of plant, animal, and human motifs.
In the Vault of the apse is to be found the Redeemer, flanked by two archangels, Bishop Ecclesius, and
St Vitale. At the foot of the side walls of the apse are the famous panels depicting Justinian and Theodora, each
with a splendid apparelled retinue, offering gifts of sacred vessels to the new Church.
San V&ale is one of the most important
examples of Byzantine art in Europe because of the Clarity with
which it expresses the ideology and religious fervour of the age of Justinian and at the same time the use of
as a means of asserting Imperial dominance.
It is also noteworthy
for its subtle and skilful
of certain elements of western art.
The Basilica of Sant’Apollinare
in Classe
The basilica is situated some 8 km from the centre of Ravenna, but it forms an integral Part of the artistic
heritage of that city. It was built in the first half of the 6th century, commissioned
by Bishop Ursicinus.
Substantial restoration and extension work was carried out in later centuries.
It iS an imposing building, 56 m long by 30 m wide, once
the central bodv of the facade, framed by two pilasters.
Originally surmounted
by towers, survives. Also disappeared is the
the narthex. It was built on an earlier (2nd-3rd century) cemetery,
again in brick. The narthex is inCOrPOt?Xed in
one of the two flanking rectangular
that originally Stood in front of
where ApOllinare, the first bishop, was buried.
The interior, divided into three equal aisles by two rows of twelve Greek marble columns, gives an
impression of great spaciousness. The original floor was a mosaic of geometric motifs, only fragments of which
SUfViVe. The side walls were once faced with fine marble, removed in the early 15th Century for reuse in Rimini.
The basilica ends in a semi-circular apse, flanked by two small rooms.
The apse and triumphal arch are decorated in mosaic, the former dating from the mid 6th CentUrY and
the latter from different
periods between the 6th and 12th centuries.
The apse depicts two scenes: the first
shows the hand of God issuing from stylized CIOUUS,whilst below the half-figures of Moses and Elijah are also seen
Partly covered by clouds. They flank a great medallion with a jewelled cross in the centre of which iS the image
of Christ in a representation
of the Transfiguration.
The central medallion of the deCOratiOn on the arch shows
the bust of Christ, with twelve sheep, symbolizing
the Apostles, coming out of the doors of Jerusalem and
Below are the figures of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel.
SimPliCitV of its design
in Classe is an outstanding
of space and in the sumptuous
and use
of the Early Christian basilica
nature of its decoration.
in the purity
and Protection
Legal status
Of the Properties included in this nomination,
the Arian Baptistery, the Mausoleum of Theodoric, and the Basilica
of 5ant’APollinare
in Classe are state property and the remainder are owned by the Roman Catholic Church (Opera
di Religione della Diocesi di RaVenna). All are protected under the provisions of Article 4 of Italian Law No 1089/39;
the three in State ownership are additionally
covered by Article 822 of the Civil Code. These legal instruments
establish the principle of the vincolo, by means of which all works affecting the monuments are subject to Prior
by the appropriate
state agency, in this case the Soprintendenza
per i Beni Ambientali
Ui Ravenna.
Management of the properties is the responsibility
of the Opera di Religione and the SOprintendenZa reSPectiVelV.
Under the terms of Article 21 of Law NO 1089/39 there are prescribed areas contiguous with the protected sites
where authorization
is required when the integrity and setting of the properties may be affected by proposed
works. These constitute
effective buffer zones when taken into consideration
with the TOWn Development
General Plan for the City of Ravenna, which specifies substantial restrictions on COnstrUctiOn and UeveloPment
within the historic city.
There is special provision in this Plan for the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare
in Classe. This takes the form of
Urban renewal and reUeVelOPment in the whole area and the incorporation
Of the BaSiliCa into an archaeological
park, along with the remains of the Roman port of Classe and other archaeological sites in the area.
and Authenticity
Conservation history
There is a long history of restoration and conservation
work on the monuments
in Ravenna that Constitute this
Whilst some of the earlier work was to a standard that WOUld
not be acceptable at the Present time,
Current PfXtiCe iS impeccable,
and early 20th centuries.
and in some cases the opportunity
has been taken t0 remedy
mistakes Of the 19th
The main causes of further potential decay have been identified and are the subject of active research
They are identified
as being attributable
to four causes. SubsiUence is endemic, Owing to the
nature of the subsoil.
This is being countered
by continuous
drainage, particularly
where floor levels in
monuments are below the water-table.
Decohesion of mortar is one of the results of the water problems, and
this is being tackled both in a preventive way and by restoration Work. Condensation resulting from large visitor
numbers, coupled with water-table problems, is the subject of current intensive research. Pollution resulting from
the inUUStrialiZatiOn Of the Ravenna area is one Of the subjects being taken into aCCOUnt in the Overall TOWn
Development General Plan.
The authenticity
of the eight properties
that make up this nomination
is high. All have undergone VariOUS
in the centuries since they were originally built, but these modifications
have their own intrinsic
historical Value and as such do not affect the authenticity
Action by ICOMOS
An ICOMOS expert mission visited the town in FebrUaIV 1996. ICOMOS also COnSUlted European
of Early Christian art and architecture
in the Mediterranean
experts in the field
The Early Christian buildings of Ravenna are without parallel in the information
that they provide about artistic
contacts and developments
in this highly significant
period in the cultural development
of Europe.
Constitute an epitome of religious and funerary art and architecture
during the 6th century.
The mosaics are
among the highest expressions of this form of art surviving anywhere in Europe, and have added importance
because of the blending of western and eastern motifs and techniques.
Comparative analysis
It is difficult to compare the Ravenna group of monuments with any others. Monuments
Agia Sophia in Constantinople
or the monastery of Daphni are masterpieces of architecture
they Stand alone. The importance of the RaVenna properties is their group Value.
such as the Church Of
and art, but in a sense
That this PrOPettY be inscribed
on the World Heritage
_ __-_
List on the basis of criteria r, 11,rrr, and
The Complex of Early Christian religious monuments in Ravenna are of outstanding Significance bvvirtue
of the supreme artistry of the mosaic art that they contain, and also because of the crucial evidence that
they provide of artistic and religious relationships and contacts at an important
period of European
cultural history.
ICOMOS, OCtOber 1996
: plan
: location
de localisation
map of
des monuments
No 788
Bien propost
Les monumentspaleochretienset mosalquesde Ravemre
Region d’Emilie-Romagne
Etat Pam’e
23 octobre 1995
dmanant de 1’Etat Partie
Les huit biens inclus danscetteproposition d’inscription sur la Liste du Patrimoinemondial constituentla collection
de mosdiqueset de batiments religieux de la fin de l’antiquid la plus remarquableau monde.
L’Etat Partie ne soumetpas de propositionsrelativesaux cridres selon lesquelsle bien doit Ctreinscrit
sur la Liste du Patrimoine mondial dans le dossierde proposition d’inscription.
Cat6gorie de bien
En termesde categoriesde biens, telles qu’elles sont definies a l’article premier de la Convention du Patrimoine
mondial de 1972, la proposition d’inscription de Ravemreest un ensemble.
Histoire et Description
Sous le regne d’Auguste, le port de Classis fnt etabli a Ravemre qui devint base imp&kale pour le nord de
1’Adriatique. Apres les invasions barbaresdu 5emesiecle, Honorius en fit sa capitale, apres le sac de Rome par
Alaric le Goth en l’an 410. Sa soeur, Galla Placidia, qui fut marieeau fils d’Attila Ataulf, v&cut a Ravemredurant
son veuvagedans la premiere moitie du 5emesiecle et en fit un centre d’art et de culture chretiens.
Avec la deposition de Romulus Augusmle, demier empereurd’occident, par les Hurts en 476, et la defaite de
cesdemierspar Tbeodoric I’Ostrogoth, Ravenneentradansuneperiode de prosper% et de puissance.Elle fut prise
par Belisaire en 540 et demeurale centre de I’autorite byzantineen Italie jusqu’en 752.
Son histoire se resume ensuite au declin et a la stagnation. Des modifications du cours du Po toucherent
gravementson commerce.De 1441a 1509, Ravennepassasousla domination de Venise puis souscelle du pape.
Elle resta pendant des sieclesen retrait de tout developpementsi bien qu’elle subit trb peu de reconstructionset
conservales temoignagesde sa gloire pa&e a un degreremarquable.
- Le mausoleede Galla Placidia
Ce petit edifice de plan cruciforme fut eleve durant le deuxiemequart du 5eme siecle. Les mum exterieurs de
l’edifice sont simples, omes de pilastresformant desarcatureset il est surmonted’une coupoleen briquesdissimulee
par une petite tour quadrangulaire.L’edifice est enfoncede plus d’un metre endessousdu niveau du sol en raison
d’un affaissement.
L’interieur est somptueusementdecore. La partie infkieure est revetuede panneauxde marbrejaune et le reste
est entierementrecouvert de mosdiques.Une Croix latine doreeome le centre de la votite de la coupole, entouree
d’etoiles d’or sur fond bleu indigo. Les quatre evangelistessont represent& sur les pendentifs de la coupole. Huit
apotressont represent&par pair-es,les mains leveesen signe de benediction, sur les quatre cot& du tambour de
la coupole. Les mum sont decor-esde scenesdiverses, notammentle martyre de saint Laurent sur le mur faisant face
au portail. Au revers de l’entk, le Bon Pasteurest represent6assis sur un rocher dans un pre sur fond rocheux.
L’klifice s’inscrit dans la tradition architecturaleromaine occidentale.C’est le plus ancien et le mieux preserve
de tous les monumentsa mosalqueset, en memetemps, l’tm desplus parfaits du point de vue artistique. 11exprime
la parfaite fusion de la tradition artistique hellenistico-romaineet de l’iconographie chr&ienne.
- Le baptistereneonien
Cet edifice, construit par l’eveque Orso au debut du 5emesiecle, fnt d&ore de mosalquespar son successeur,Neon,
autour de l’an 450. 11se trouve au nord de la cathedraleactuelle.
Le baptistere,de plan octagonal, fut construit en briques et agrementede pilastres. Comrnele mausoleede Galla
Placidia, il est maintenanten partie enfoncedansle sol. L’interieur est constituede quatreabsidesarticuleesen dew
ordres d’arcs s’elevantvers la grande coupole. Le grand medaillon de mosdiqueau sommet de la coupole illustre
le Bapteme du Christ par Jean-Baptiste. Endessous se trouve M registre oh figurent les douze apbtres en
procession.Endessous encore se trouve un demier registre illustrant des scenesarchitecturalesevoquantla Ville
Sainte. Le tambour supekieurcomporte une galerie en trompe-l’oeil, chaqueniche accueillant M prophete. Des
scenesde 1’Evangilefigurent dans la partie inferieure du tambour.
11s’agit du plus complet et du plus be1exemplede baptisterepaleochretienqui nous soit parvenu. I1 possedela
fluidite de la representationhumaine he&e de l’art g&co-romain. A noter en particulier la correspondance
harmonieusequi existe entre le decor de mosdiqueet la structure architectoniquedu batiment lui-meme.
- La basilique Sant’Apollinare Nuovo
Elle fut a l’origine l’eglise palatine de Tbeodoric et fut construitea c&e de son palais au debut du 6emesiecle. Elle
fut d’abord d&Beeau Christ, puis a saint Martin et, au milieu du 9emeskle, a saint Apollinaire, premier eveque
de Ravemte.
La basilique est remarquablepar la simplicid de son plan. Construite en brique, la facadepresenteun tympan,
elle est encadreede deuxpilastres et per&e d’une fenetrea meneaux.L’intkieur estdivise par vingt-quatrecolonnes
de marbre en une nef et deux bas-coteset une absidearrondie. Divers am&ragementsont modifie l’aspect interieur
au tours des siecles.
L’interieur devait etre a l’origine entierementd&ore de mosalqueset de peintures murales, mais une grande
partie du decor d’origine disparut pendant les travaux de reconstructionentrepris au 16emesiecle. Actuellement,
les mosalquescouvrent les deux murs lateraux au bas de la nef, du plafond jusqu’au sommet des arcs porteurs,
&parties sur trois registres. Le registre exteme montre une processionde martyres et de vierges, celui du centre
est occupt par despersonnagesen robe blanche, probablementdesprophetes,et le registre inteme est consacreaux
Miracles et a la Passiondu Christ. Les deux registres superieurssont de style romain traditionnel tandis que le
troisieme denoteune forte influence byzantine.
L’interieur et l’exterieur de la basilique illustrent graphiquementla fusion entreles styles d’orient et d’occident
caracteristiquesde la fin du 5emesiecle et du debut du 6emesiecle. C’est l’un des edifices les plus significatifs de
cette periode d’importance culturelle cmciale dans l’art religieux europeen.
- Le baptisteredes Ariens
Edifie par Thtodoric a c&e de sa cathedrale, il fut reconsacreapresle renversementde l’heresie ariemreen 561
et devint un oratoire d&lie a la Vierge Marie.
C’est tm petit batiment en briques, de plan octagonal, comportantquatrepans plats et quatre pansa absidioles.
A l’exterieur, il est divise en deux par une comiche. La partie superieureest surmonteed’Me coupole en briques
avecune fen&e cintree de chaquecot&
Les mum interieurs la&sent actuellementdecouvrir la brique nue, bien quedes fouilles aientmontre qu’ils etaient
a l’origine recouvertsde plltre, de marbre et de mosalques.Seulela coupoleconserveson decor de motiques. Le
medaillon central montre le Christ jeune dans les eaux du Jourdain, saint Jean-Baptistelui faisant face. Le large
registre entourantle medaillon central est occupepar les douzeapdtresportant des couronnesdans leurs mains.
L’iconographie des mosdiques,dont la qualite est remarquable,est significative car elle illustre la Trinite, un
Clementquelquepeu inattendu dans l’art d’un b$.iment arien, car elle etait refutee par cette doctrine.
- La chapellede l’archeveche
L’oratoire prive des evequesorthodoxes fut construitevers l’an 500. 11fut a l’origine d&lie au Christ et plus tard
A saint Andre.
La chapelle,au premier &age de l’actuel palais de l’eveque, epousela forme d’une Croix grecqueavecune abside
sur le brasoriental. Elle est couverted’Me votite d’areteet preddee d’un vestibule rectangulaire.La partie inferieur
desmurs est habillee de marbre et de motiques au registre superieur(bien que quelques-unesaient ete remplacees
par des peintures a tempera, oeuvre de Luca Longhi, au 16emesiecle). Au-dessusde la Porte du vestibule, le
tympan est ome d’un Christ guerrier sur fond or. La voute en berceaucomporte M treillage oh courent des lys
blancset desrosettes,en partie peints a tempera,qui dOMentI’impression d’Me pergolaaeriennepeupleed’oiseaux
et d’animaux. Le sommet de la votite d’arete est M medaillon portant le monogrammeChi-Rho, tenu par quatre
angesaux bras leves. 11y a des medaillons a l’intrados des quatre arcs de la voute.
L’importancede ce bien provient du fait que c’est le seuloratoire paleochretienprive qui nous soit parvenu. Son
iconographieest egalementimportante en raison de sa symbolique fortement anti-arienne.
- Le mausoleede Theodoric
Cet edifice, elevepar Theodoric lui-meme peu avant sa mort en 526, hors les mum de la ville, dansune necropole
gothe, connut les al&s de l’histoire : le corps de Theodoric fut retire apres l’edit de Justinien condamnant
l’arianisme en 561 et l’edifice devint un oratoire surmonted’une tour car&e qui servit de phare ; il fut en partie
submergepar la riviere Badarenoet ne fut ass&he et excavequ’au 19emesiecle.
Contrairementaux batiments anciensde Ravenne,le mausoleefut bati en blocs de Pierre tailles avec soin et
import& d’ktrie, joints au mortier et tenus par desagrafesmttalliques. L’edifice se developpesur deux niveaux,
l’etage inferieur comportant dix pans, une niche et une petite fenetre sur chaquepan, l’etage superieur&ant plus
petit, decagonaljusqu’au linteau de la Portepuis circulaire. 11est surmonted’un rebord decor-ed’Me frise a “pince”,
Clementcaracteristiquede l’art goth.
L’importance du mausolee reside dans son style et sa decoration, qui ne doit rien a l’art romain ni a l’art
byzantin, bien qu’il utilise la technique de la construction en Pierre romaine “opus quadramm” qui avait ete
abandon&equatre siecles plus tot. C’est I’unique exemplesurvivant d’une tombe de roi barbarede cette p&ode.
11a Ctesuggereque sa forme serait d’inspiration syrierme, influence qu’aurait pu connaitre Theodoric durant la
periodeou il servit l’empereur byzantin Zenon.
- L’eglise San Vitale
Cet edifice, command6par l’eveque Ecclesiusapresson retour de Constantinopleen 525, fut achevevers 547. 11
est construit sur le site d’une eglise du 5emesiecle commemorantle martyre de saint Vital, qui firt incorporee a
la nouvelle structure. Un grand “quadriportico” fut Clevesur la facade,qui fut transformeen cloftre lorsque l’eglise
fut integreea il~l monasterebenedictin.
L’eglise est de forme octogonaleet construitede grandesbriquesplatestypiquesde tous les bltiments erigespar
Justinien. 11y a deux &ages, Y&age superieurencerclantla coupole. L’abside, qui est semi-circulaire a l’interieur
et polygonale a l’exterieur, est flanquee de deux petites piecesrectangulairesse terminant par des niches et deux
L’architecture interieure est faite d’espaceet de ltiere. Le centre est entourede huit piliers massifs, rev&us
de marbre grec, qui s’eleventjusqu’au tambour de la coupole. La coupole elle-meme, de 16 m de diametre, est
composeede nombreuxamreauxconcentriquesde tubesdoublesen terre cuite dont la legered evitait d’avoir recours
a des mum exterieurs massifs ; ils font moms de lm d’epaisseur. La coupole est couverte de fresquesbaroques
r&.lisees en 1778-82, en completeopposition avec la purete architectoniquede la structure.
Les colomreset les chapiteauxdes triforiums, a l’allure elancee,probablementimport& d’orient, presententM
inter& particulier. Les chapiteauxa imposte sculpt&sen forme de feuilles de lotus, creent une transition Clegante
entre la sectioncirculaire descolonneset la votite rectangulaire.Les exemplessimilaires les plus prochessetrouvent
a Constantinople.
Six deshuir parties de dallagesont en marbreet datentde la Renaissance.Les deux autresdatent du 6emesiecle
et consistenten un cantbared’oti s’echappeune frondaison qui remplit l’espacede ses convolutions, peupleesde
petits oiseaux et de grappesde raisin. Des stucs peints du 6eme skle se voient aussi dans les espacesentre les
arcadesdu presbymre. Le decor floral predominedansle presbyterelui-mtme; les figures de mosdiquedes quatre
Cvangelisteset les scenes de 1’Ancien Testamentvoisinent avec une profusion de plantes, d’animaux et de
Dans la voute de l’abside se trouve le Christ en Majeste, assisentre deux archanges,l’eveque Ecclesiuset saint
Vital. Au pied des mum lateraux de l’abside se trouvent les fameux panneauxdepeignantJustinien et Theodora,
accompagnedes persomragesde leur suite superbementvetus, portant desoffi-andesa la nouvelle eglise.
L’eglise Saint-Vital est l’un des exemplesde l’art byzantin les plus importants d’Europe en raison de la clarte
d’expression de l’ideologie et la ferveur religieuse en vigueur a I’epoque de Justinien et, en meme temps,
l’utilisation de l’architecture comme moyen d’affirmer la domination imperiale. Elle est aussi remarquablepour
I’incorporation subtile et ma&see de certainselementsde l’art Occidental.
- La basilique Sant’Apollinare in Classe
La basiliqueSant’Apollinare in Classeest situeea environ 8 km du centrede Ravenne,mais elle est partie integrante
du patrimoine artistique de la ville. Elle fut construite dans la premiere moitie du 6eme siecle a la demandede
I’eveque Ursicinus. Des travaux de restaurationet d’extension importants furent entrepris au tours des siecles
C’est M edifice imposant de 56 m de long par 30 m de large, lui aussi en brique. Le narthex est incorpore a
la partie centrale de la facade,encadreede deux pilastres. Des deux piecesrectangulairessit&es sur les bas-cot&
et surmonteed’tme tour, il n’en reste qu’une. Le “quadriportico”, qui se trouvait a l’origine devant le narthex, a
egalementdisparu. La basilique fut construite sur M anciencimetiere datantdes2emeet 3emesiecles,ou fut enter-m
Apollinaire, le premier CvCque.
L’interieur, divise en trois nefs d’egale importancepar deux rangeesde douzecolonnesde marbre grec, donne
une impressiond’espace.Le sol etait a l’origine rev&u d’une mosdiquea motifs geometriquesdont seuls quelques
fragmentsont survecu. Les mum lat&aux etaient pares de marbre fin, retire au debut du 15emesiecle pour etre
reutilise a Rimini. La basilique se termine par une absidesemi-cirulaire flanqueede deux petites salles.
L’abside et l’arc triomphal sont omes de mosdiques,celle de l’abside datant du 6emesiecle et celle de l’arc de
differentes p&odes s’echelonnantentre le 6eme et le 12emesiecle. L’abside presentedeux scenes:la premiere
montre la main de Dieu sortant de nuagesstyli& et l’autre presenteMolse et Elie dont les corps sont en partie
couverts de wages. Au milieu des deux mosdiquesse trouvent un grand mklaillon ome d’une Croix ouvrageeet
precieuseau milieu de laquelle est represent6le Christ de la Transfiguration.Sur le medaillon central de l’arc figure
le Christ et douzeagneaux,qui symbolisentles Apotres, sortantdesportesdeJerusalemet de Bethleem.En-dessous
se trouvent les archangesMichel et Gabriel.
Sant’Apollinare in Classeest un exemplede basiliquepaleochretienneexceptionnelpar la purete et la simplicite
de ~aconception, l’usage qui est fait de l’espaceet la nature somptueusede sa decoration.
et Protection
Parmi les biens proposes, le baptisteredes Ariens, le mausoleede Theodoric et la basilique Sant’Apollinare in
Classesont propriete de I’Etat et les autresappartiennenta 1’Eglisecatholique romaine (Opera di Religione della
Diocesi di [email protected] Tous sont protegespar les dispositionsde 1’Article 4 de la Loi italienne No 1089139;les trois
biens de 1’Etatsont de plus couverts par 1’Article 822 du codecivil. Ces instrumentslegaux etablissentle principe
du vincolo par lequel tous travaux affectant les monumentssont soumisa autorisation prealablede I’agenced’Etat
concemee,dansce cas, la Soprintendenzaper i Beni Ambientah et Architettonici di Ravemra.
La gestion des proprietes est placee respectivementsous la responsabilite de 1’Opera di Religione et de la
Soprintendenza.Aux termes de 1’Article 21 de la Loi italienne No 1089/39, il existe des zonesdefinies contigues
aux sites protegesdans lesquelles une autorisation est requise lorsque l’integrid et l’enviromrement des biens
risquent d’etre affect& par les travaux envisages.Ces zones font office de zones tampon dans le cadre du Plan
general d’urbanisme de la ville de Ravenne, qui prevoit des restrictions importantes sur la construction et le
dheloppement dansla ville historique.
Des dispositionsparticulieres sont prevuesdansce Plan pour la basilique Sant’Apollinare in Classe, a savoir le
renouvellementurbain, le redeveloppementde la totalite de la zone et l’integration de la basilique a un part
archeologique,avec les vestiges du port romain de Classeet d’autres sites archeologiquesde la zone.
Conservation et Authenticit
Historique de la conservation
Une longue histoire de travaux de restauration et de conservation &attache aux monuments de Ravemrequi
constituentcetteproposition d’inscription. Certes, les travaux de refectionanciensne seraientplus acceptablesselon
les criteres actuels, mais les pratiquesactuellessont impeccableset danscertains cas, les erreurs de restaurations
commisesaux 19emeet 20eme sieclesont ete corrigees.
Les principales causespossiblesde degradationsfutures ont ete identifiees et sont l’objet d’actifs progmmmes
de recherche.Ces degradationssont les suivantes: l’affaissementest endemique,db a la nature du sous-sol.11est
contrepar le drainagecontinu, en particulier lorsquele niveaudu sol desmonumentsse trouve en-dessousdu niveau
hydrostatique.La dhagr4gation du rnortier rt%ultedes problemesd’humidite, elle est combattuea la fois par des
moyenspreventifs et par des travaux de restauration. La condensation,qui resulte du grand nombre de visiteurs
et des problemes de niveau hydrostatique, est l’objet de recherches intensives. La pollution rksultant de
l’industrialisation de la region de Ravemreest l’un desthemespris en comptedansle Plan generaldu developpement
L’authenticite des huit biens proposesest grande. Tous ces biens ont subi des modifications a travers les siecles
depuisleur construction, mais cesmodifications ont leur propre valeur historique qui n’affecte en rien I’authenticite
des biens.
Action de I’ICOMOS
Un expert de I’ICOMOS s’est rendu en mission dansla ville de Ravemreen fevrier 1996. L’ICOMOS a egalement
consulte des experts europeens dans le domaine de l’art paleochretien et de l’architecture de la region
Les edifices paleochr&iensde Ravemresont sansequivalent par l’information qu’ils livrent sur l’evolution et les
Cchangesartistiques de cette periode hautement significative pour le developpementculture1 de 1’Europe. 11s
constituent la quintessencede l’art et de l’architecture fun&ire et religieuse du 62mesiecle. Les mosdiquessont
parmi les plus belles expressionsde cette forme d’art qui nous soientparvenuesen Europe. Elles ont une importance
encoreplus grande en raison de l’union des techniqueset des motifs d’orient et d’occident.
Analyse comparative
11est difficile de comparerle groupe de monumentsde Ravemreavec d’autres. Des monumentscomme l’eglise
d’Aghia Sophia a Constantinopleou le monasterede Daphni sont des chefs-d’oeuvrede l’architecture et de l’art,
mais en M sens, ils sont isoles. L’importance des biens de Ravemrereside dans la valeur de l’ensemble des
Que ce bien soit inscrit sur la Liste du Patrimoine mondial au titre des critkes
i, ii, iii et iv :
L’ensemble de monumentsreligieux palCochn5tien.s
de Ravemreest d’Me importance extraordinaire en raison
de la suprememaltrise artistique de l’art de la mosdiqueainsi que la preuve qu’ils apportentdes relations et des
contactsartistiques et religieux a tme periode importante de l’histoire culturelle europeenne.
ICOMOS, octobre 1996
: plan de localisation
: location
map of the
des monuments