UNESCO inscribed eight Ravenna sites on the World Heritage List, it cited this basilica as “an outstanding example of the early Christian basilica in its purity and simplicity of its design and use of space and in the sumptuous nature of its decoration”.
Sant’Apollinare in Classe was consecrated on May 9, 549 by Bishop Maximian and dedicated to Saint Apollinaris, the first bishop of Ravenna and Classe. In 856, the relics of Saint Apollinaris were transferred from the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe to the Basilica of Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna.
The 9th century round bell tower was added later.
The imposing brick structure was erected at the beginning of 6th century by order of Bishop Ursicinus, using money from the Greek banker Iulianus Argentarius. It was located next to a Christian cemetery.
The exterior has a relatively plain facade with mullioned windows.
The uppermost sections of the nave, showcase scenes from the life or Christ and his apostles in mosaic and date 493-526.
The lower sections feature bishops, martyrs and saints in mosaic dating from 527-565.
Admire the spectacular mosaic panel of Constantine IV granting privilege to the Ravennate church.