Basilica of Saint Vitale in Ravenna
Built in the place where, according to tradition, Saint Vitale was martyred, the Basilica was consecrated in about 547, under Emperor Justinian.
The central octagonal plan interprets original models of existing large buildings early Christian, and particularly the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.
The body outer, at two rows, contains an octagonal tower (tiburio) higher.
Two towers, equipped with ladders for access to women's galleries, overlook the narthex at the entrance, which is not aligned with the apse of the basilica, in order to create an effect of bewilderment in the entering faithful .
The exterior is brick, in contrast with the opulence of the interior decoration, symbolizing the outer earthly poverty against the richness of the spiritual world.
The inside has a large central area covered by a hemispherical dome, supported by giant fan shaped pillars and eight large arches, one of which is open to the presbytery, while the other seven make great exedras, divided into two tiers of arches on columns.
The upper order corresponds to the women's gallery, the first order corresponds to the octagonal ambulatory, which turns all around and stops at the presbytery.
The wonderful mosaic of the environments, which originally covered all surfaces, creates an effect of expansion and undefined space, filling the sight of a golden and thin light, with an extraordinary impression of magnificence.
The focal point is located on the front of the spectacular presbytery, where two angels hold the cross, likewise at the vault, where four angels hold up a medallion with the sacrificial lamb on a blue background with stylized flowers.
On the cap of the apse, Christ gives the crown of martyrdom to Saint Vitale, while an angel symbolically offers the church to Saint Ecclesio Bishop.
Beside the altar are the famous panels depicting the Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora, surrounded by their courts in all their splendor, with Bishop Maximian, at the ideal ceremony of consecration of the basilica.