Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe

The 6th-century basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe is located in Classe, which was the small harbor town of Ravenna in antiquity. It is located about 4 km south of the city center. Like most Ravenna churches, it is known for its exceptional Byzantine mosaics. It also has elegant architecture and a fine collection of early Christian sarcophagi.
The Basilica of Sant'Apollinare is dedicated to St. Apollinaris, patron saint of Ravenna. His dates have been difficult to determine, but he is said to have arrived at the port of Classis and converted the local population, which consisted mainly of merchants and sailors. Most estimates put his lifetime in the late 2nd century.
Around 532 AD, Bishop Ursicinus began construction on a church in honor of St. Apollinaris next to a Christian burial ground in Classe. It was consecrated by Bishop Maximian on May 9, 549. Like the Basilica of San Vitale in the city center, the building was financed by Julianus Argentarius. The same long, thin red bricks are common to both structures.
A few changes and additions were made over the centuries. The clerestory was repaired in the 8th century; the apse was raised to allow for a new crypt underneath in the 9th century; and the round bell tower was added in the 10th century.
Later, the precious marble revetments of the walls were taken away to decorate the church at Rimini (15th century) and paintings were added to the nave walls (18th century). At some point the basilica lost its atrium (west courtyard).


Bronze Transennae from San Vitale (6th century)

Photo by Sailko

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The Byzantine Legacy
Created by David Hendrix Copyright 2016