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The Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo is a 6th-century church in eastern Ravenna. Named for Ravenna's first bishop, it is famed for its two side walls full of figurative mosaics dating from c.500 (under the Arian king Theodoric) and c.560 (under Catholic administration).
This basilica was built by Theodoric sometime after 500 AD as an Arian cathedral (in the same era as the Arian Baptistery) dedicated to Christ; it was converted into a Catholic church dedicated to St. Martin around 560.
The dedication was changed again in the 9th century to St. Apollinare, first bishop of Ravenna, when the saint's relics were moved here from Sant'Apollinare in Classe for protection from pirate raids.
The basilica's present name, the "New Basilica of St. Apollinaris," does not mean it is newer than its namesake in Classe - it is actually several decades older. Instead, the "Nuovo" was added to distinguish it from another church of St. Apollinaris in the city, which has since disappeared. The apse of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo was originally covered in mosaics like the walls, but these were unfortunately removed during 16th century renovations. The present apse and porch date from the 16th and 18th centuries.
Along with other ancient monuments in Ravenna, Sant'Apollinare Nuovo was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1995. The advisory body remarked, "Both the exterior and the interior of the basilica graphically illustrate the fusion between the Western and eastern styles 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."
From Strafforello (1890)
“Italian Hours” by Joseph Pennell (1909)
From Hutton (1913)
From Kurth (1905)
Photo by Alinari (late 19th century)
Photo from Jackson (1913)
Plan from Mauskopf Deliyannis
Ravenna in Late Antiquity by Deborah Mauskopf Deliyannis
Byzantine Architecture by Cyril Mango
Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium edited by Alexander Kazhdan
Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna (UNESCO)