Classe

Classe was the military port of Ravenna. For almost five hundred years, it was an important strategic military port. When it was not being used as a military port, it was an important commercial port for the imperial capital of Ravenna in the Roman Empire. Classe comes from the Latin word classis, meaning fleet.

Sometime between 35 and 12 BCE, Augustus established Ravenna's harbor as one of the home ports for his new Roman navy. South of the harbor, the area was occupied mainly by cemeteries, but by the 2nd century AD a town, later known as Classe, had grown up. Augustus may have chosen this site because of its strategic position.

Due to the crisis of the third century, Ravenna and the port began to decline. When Ravenna was chosen as an official western imperial capital in 402, Classe became more prosperous than ever. Even after 476, when Ravenna was no longer a Roman imperial capital, it and its port survived, and the town of Classe was restored under the Ostrogothic king Theodoric. It is possible that this port, which pointed in the direction of Constantinople, was a major reason for Ravenna being chosen as the capital of the West. The Church of Sant'Apollinare in Classe is the only remaining church from Late Antiquity, though the ruins of the Church of San Severo still can be seen.  Due to silting of the area, the port disappeared centuries ago. Recent excavation uncovered the ruins of the port, which has since become a museum open to visitors.

Mosaic of Port in Sant'Apollinare Nuovo
Reconstruction of Classe
Map of Ravenna
Classe Port Ruins
Aspe Mosaics in Sant'Apollinare in Classe
Reconstruction of Basilica of San Severo
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The Byzantine Legacy
Created by David Hendrix Copyright 2016