UNESCO-listed with all the other glorious Roman mosaic masterpieces in Ravenna, the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia is testament to the days when the city was the capital of the Western Roman Empire. Galla Placidia was the powerful sister of Honorius, the last emperor of Rome; she married Ataulf, King of the Visigoths, acted as regent for 12 years, died in Rome in 450 AD and is probably buried there, but nevertheless her official mausoleum is found in a terracotta-colored brick chapel among neat gardens behind Ravenna’s San Vitale Basilica. Unassuming on the outside, the chapel’s entire vaulted interior glitters with Byzantine mosaics dating from around 430 AD and representing the star-strewn night sky and intricate Biblical scenes, decorated with highly colored geometrical patterns. Gently lit by shafts of light from narrow windows, depictions of the Good Shepherd and the Martyrdom of St Lawrence adorn the niches, with figures of the Apostles floating on the upper walls. Three marble sarcophagi are reputed to contain the bodies of Galla Placidia, her second husband and son, but these were placed in the mausoleum in medieval times.
Via Giuliano Argentario 22, Ravenna. Open daily Nov–Mar 9am–5.30pm; Apr–Oct 9am–7pm. Admission adults €9.50; all concessions €8.50;
children under 10 go free. Ticket price includes entry to the Basilica of
Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, the Neonian Baptistery and the Basilica of San Vitale plus the Archiepiscopal Museum and Chapel. Take Bus Line 1 to Piazza Baracca.