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Photo of Archbishop's Chapel in Ravenna

Visit Archbishop's Chapel in Ravenna

The Archbishop's Chapel is a small chapel in the town of Ravenna, in north-east Italy and is one of eight historic monuments in the city that are listed as UNESCO world heritage sites.

Note: the chapel is also referred to as the Chapel of Saint Andrew, or Chapel of San Andrea, on signs within the town - useful to know if you can't find the chapel! In fact, the chapel is rather hard to find because it is inside the Archbishop's Palace and Museum, although this is not clear from the signs.

Discover the Archbishop's Chapel in Ravenna

Italy This Way review: although it is very small (the smallest of the byzantine monuments in Ravenna) and a visit will only take you a few minutes, the Archbishop's Chapel contains some very lovely mosaics so you should include it as part of your tour of the town

Dome with gold cross in the apse of the chapel

This small chapel was originally built by Archbishop Peter II under the reign of Theodoric, between 494 and 519 AD. It was constructed as a private oratory for the Trinitarian bishops of the town and is the only existing chapel of this type and from this period that is still in existence.

The Trinitarians were a branch of Catholics that were named after the belief in the Holy Trinity, in contrast to the Arians that preceded them in Ravenna, before the town was defeated by the Ostrogoths, and several of the mosaics in the Archbishop's chapel have Anti-Arian meanings.

From the outside, the Archbishop's chapel is a small red brick building, very simple in conception and with a porch and row of arches at ground level and a window with two arches at the upper level.

Inside, there is a rectangular space called the vestibule that leads to a shrine that has the shape of a Greek cross and contains a very small apse. Both of these spaces are decorated with their original mosaics.

 
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Mosaics of the Chapel of Saint Andrew in Ravenna

The ceiling of the vestibule has quite simple mosaics showing birds and flowers. The lower parts of the walls are now covered with slabs of marble, although these were also originally covered with mosaics.

The principal mosaic in the vestibule is above the door to the shrine, where you can see Christ treading on a lion and a snake, a clear reference to Christ overcoming the powers of evil. This reminds us that originally the shrine was dedicated to Christ, and only later was this changed to Saint Andrew. Although Christ is shown as a very young man, his clothes and stature suggest a soldier or warrior.

In the shrine you can see a gold cross and stars on a blue background above the apse, as well as a Chrismon - this has the Greek letters I and X to symbolise Christ and medals that represent Christ and the apostles. Rows of portaits can be seen around the four arches in the apse.

The letters I and X are the first letters of the name Jesus Christ, and it is very common to see these, or the letters IC and XC (the first and last letters of his name), on byzantine religios representations of Christ.

Other mosaics in the shrine include the symbols of the four evangelists and four angels around the Chrismon, as well as other mosaics showing Christ and the apostles.

Attractions nearby

The Archbishop's chapel is just one of the sites of byzantine mosaics in Ravenna that you can visit while you are here: see the Ravenna guide.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Emilia-Romagna guide.

See also: 

Photos of Archbishop's Chapel in Ravenna

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Map of Archbishop's Chapel in Ravenna and places to visit

 
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Archbishop's Chapel in Ravenna places to visit

Ravenna Baptistery of Neon

Ravenna Baptistery of Neon

Ravenna Baptistery of Neon is one of the most ancient Christian baptisteries, built in the 5th century and decorated with mosaics

Ravenna Baptistery of Neon guide
Ravenna

Ravenna

Ravenna is world famous because of the exceptional mosaics and several 6th century churches in the city

Ravenna guide
Rasponi Crypt and gardens in Ravenna

Rasponi Crypt and gardens in Ravenna

The Rasponi crypt is the underground chapel of an 18th century palace, next to a large courtyard garden

Rasponi Crypt and gardens in Ravenna guide
Dante's Tomb in Ravenna

Dante's Tomb in Ravenna

The Tomb of Dznte is the final resting place of the great 13th century poet, Dante Alighieri

Dante's Tomb in Ravenna guide
Basilica of San Francesco in Ravenna

Basilica of San Francesco in Ravenna

The Basilica of San Francesco in Ravenna is a 10th century church where the funeral of Dante took place

Basilica of San Francesco in Ravenna guide
Domus dei Tappeti di Pietra

Domus dei Tappeti di Pietra

Domus dei Tappeti di Pietra is a floor of mosaics from a roman villa, in the centre of Ravenna

Domus dei Tappeti di Pietra guide

...or see all our recommended places to visit in Emilia-Romagna

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