Ravenna - Religious Mosaics
This is the centerpiece of the Arian Baptistery located in Ravenna, Italy. The Baptistery was built around the end of the 5th century. This dome depicts Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist. This Baptistery is octagon in shape and the floor of it is 2.3 meters below ground. The mosaic technique used was Byzantine but no one knows who the mosaicists were. Usually a team of people would perform different tasks to create these mosaics: painters that drew the outline in wet mortar, people cutting the tesserae, and others that came up with the original design and then set each tesserae into the wet mortar.
This image, in the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy, depicts the Redeemer between San Vitale and Bishop Ecclesius. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and is a great example of Byzantine art. Completed around the middle of the 6th century, the mosaics are incredible and the use of gold tesserae is astounding. The tesserae consisted of a variety of different materials including ceramics, glass, stone, marble and some mother-of-pearl.
This is a close up of the Triumphal Arch in the Basilica of San Vitale. The gold can really be appreciated in this image. The gold is said to have been shipped in from Byzantium. This is one of the most visited churches and when you are visiting, there is to be quiet and contemplation.
This is a section of the floor in the Church of San Vitale. We were allowed to walk on the floors but not take flash photos. The patterns and designs are wonderful and still relevant today. Over time, there have been many different restorations of the mosaics. Faces were changed, tesserae replaced many times and even a "fake mosaic" style was used. They actually painted an image on plaster where missing tesserae was.
This is another Ravenna church called the Basilica of S. Apollinare Nuovo, dedicated to the patron saint of Ravenna, St. Apollinaris. Also completed in the early part of the 6th century, the mosaics are Byzantine art and, in this image, depict the procession of the martyrs. The Basilica has 58 windows and originally the nave walls were all covered in mosaics. They all have been replaced with frescoes and stucco.
This side of the Basilica depicts the procession of the saints. The floor also used to be covered in mosaics, but the only surviving area of these mosaics is in the back of the right aisle. There is a fragment of a mosaic discovered in 1953 and is displayed on a wall behind glass. All the mosaics date from the 6th through the 9th centuries.