Ravenna (in romagnolo dialect: Ravena) is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and the second largest comune in Italy by land area, although, at 652.89 km2 (252.08 sq mi), it is little more than half the size of the largest commune, Rome.

Ravenna was the capital city of the Western Roman Empire from 402 until that empire collapsed in 476, leaving Constantinople as the only capital of the Roman world. Afterwards, it served as the capital of the Kingdom of the Ostrogoths. Later, the city formed the centre of the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna until the invasion of the Franks in 751, after which it then became the seat of the Kingdom of the Lombards.

Although an inland city, Ravenna is connected to the Adriatic Sea by the Candiano Canal. It is the location of eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The history of Ravenna

Pills of history...

The origin of the name Ravenna is unclear, although it is believed the name is Etruscan.

Some have speculated that the todays name of "Ravenna" is related to "Rasenna" (later "Rasna"), the term that the Etruscans used for themselves, but there is no agreement on this point.

The city soon grew in importance. In 402 the capital of the Roman Empire was moved from Milan to Ravenna, but this did not prevent the deposition in 476 the last emperor, Romulus Augustus.

Became the capital of the kingdom of the Goths, then Ravenna returned under the control of the Eastern Empire, which ruled here the capital of the Exarchate who controlled Italy. After the fall of the Exarchate, the city came under the control of the Pope until the annexation to the Kingdom of Italy.

The tour winds through the city's monuments classified as World Heritage.

Main sight and culture in Ravenna

Art and Literature...

Mosaic portrait of Jesus of 6th century, long-haired and bearded, dressed as a Greco-Roman priest and king (Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo)
Mosaic of the Palace of Theodoric (Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo).
Dante's Tomb. A neoclassical structure by Camillo Morigia, 1780 Mausoleum of Galla Placidia

The Arian Baptistry

The Mausoleum of Theodoric

Lord Byron lived in Ravenna between 1819 and 1821, led by the love for a local aristocratic and married young woman, Teresa Guiccioli. Here he continued the Don Juan and wrote the Ravenna Diary, My Dictionary and Recollections.

Oscar Wilde wrote a poem entitled "Ravenna" in 1878.

Part of the description above is taken from the Wikipedia article Ravenna with patent CC-BY-SA. The full list of those who have contributed to the drafting of the article is available here.