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Learn more about Ravenna

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For other places named Ravenna, see Ravenna (disambiguation).
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Comune di Ravenna
Municipal coat of arms
Country Image:Flag of Italy.svg Italy
Region Emilia-Romagna
Province Ravenna (RA)
Mayor Fabrizio Matteucci
Elevation 4 m
Area 652 km²
 - Total (as of December 31, 2005) 149,084
 - Density 221,56/km²
Time zone CET, UTC+1
Coordinates 44°25′N 12°12′E
Gentilic Ravennati
Dialing code 0544
Postal code 48100
Frazioni Classe, Lido di Dante, Lido Adriano, Punta Marina, Marina di Ravenna, Marina Romea, Casalborsetti, Mandriole, San Romualdo, Camerlona, Piangipane, Fornace Zarattini, Villanova di Ravenna, San Michele, San Marco, Ghibullo, San Zaccaria, Fosso Ghiaia, Porto Fuori
Patron St. Apollinaris
 - Day July 23

Ravenna is a city and commune in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. The city is inland, but is connected to the Adriatic Sea by a canal. Ravenna once served as the seat of the Roman Empire and later the Ostrogothic kingdom. It is presently the capital of the province of Ravenna.

Piazza del Popolo in Ravenna.


[edit] History

[edit] Early history

The origins of Ravenna are uncertain. The first settlement is variously attributed to the Tyrrhenians, the Thessalians, or the Umbrians. Ravenna consisted of houses built on piles on a series of small islands in a marshy lagoon - a situation similar to Venice several centuries later. The Romans ignored it during their conquest of the Po River Delta, but later accepted it as a federated town into the Roman Republic in 89 BC. In 49 BC, it was the location where Julius Caesar gathered his forces before crossing the Rubicon. Later, after his battle against Mark Anthony in 45 BC, Emperor Augustus founded the military harbor of Classe. This harbor, protected at first by its own walls, was an important station of the Roman imperial fleet. Nowadays the city is landlocked, but Ravenna remained an important seaport on the Adriatic until the early Middle Ages. During the German campaigns, Thusnelda, widow of Arminius, and Marbod, King of the Marcomanni, were confined at Ravenna.

Ravenna greatly prospered under Roman rule. Emperor Trajan built a 70 km long aqueduct at the beginning of the 2nd century. In 402, Emperor Honorius transferred the capital of the Western Roman Empire from Milan to Ravenna. The transfer was made primarily for defensive purposes: Ravenna was surrounded by swamps and marshes and had ease of access to Imperial forces of the Eastern Roman Empire. However, in 409, King Alaric of the Visigoths simply bypassed Ravenna, and went on to sack Rome and to take Galla Placidia, daughter of Emperor Theodosius I, hostage. After many vicissitudes, Galla Placidia returned to Ravenna with her son, Emperor Valentinian III and the support of her uncle Theodosius II. Ravenna enjoyed a period of unprecedented peace, during which time the Christian religion flourished, and the city gained its most famous monuments, both secular (demolished) and Christian (largely preserved).

In 476, the Western Roman Empire fell. Eastern Emperor Zeno sent Ostrogoth King Theodoric the Great to re-take the Italian peninsula. After the Battle of Verona, Odoacer retreated to Ravenna, where he withstood a siege of three years by Theodoric, until the taking of Rimini deprived Ravenna of supplies. After Theodoric slew Odoacer, Ravenna was the capital of the Ostrogothic kingdom of Italy.
Contemporary mosaic of the Palace of Theodoric.
After 493, Theodoric employed Roman architects for secular and religious structures, including the lost palace near San Apollinare Nuovo; the "Palazzo di Teodorico" was an outbuilding. Theodoric and his followers were Arians, but co-existed peacefully with the Latins. Theodoric died in 526 and was succeeded by his daughter Amalasunta, who was killed in 535.

However, Byzantine Emperor Justinian I was fanatically orthodox, and opposed both Ostrogoth rule and the Arian cult. In 535 he invaded Italy and in 540 conquered Ravenna. Ravenna became the seat of Byzantine government in Italy (see also Gothic War).

[edit] Exarchate of Ravenna

Main article: Exarchate of Ravenna

Following the conquests of Belisarius for the Emperor Justinian I in the sixth century, Ravenna became the seat of the Byzantine governor of Italy, the Exarch, and was known as the Exarchate of Ravenna. It was at this time that the Ravenna Cosmography was written.

[edit] Medieval and modern history

The Lombards, under King Liutprand, occupied Ravenna in 712, but were forced to return it to the Byzantines. However, in 751 the Lombard king Aistulf succeeded in conquering Ravenna, thus ending Byzantine rule in northern Italy.
Image:Sant'Apollinare Nuovo.jpg
Basilica of Sant' Apollinare Nuovo: The 38.5 m bell tower dates to the beginning of the 11th century.
The Mausoleum of Theodoric.

King Pepin of France attacked the Lombards under orders of Pope Stephen II. Ravenna then became territory of the Papal States in 784. In return, Pope Adrian I authorized King Charlemagne to take away anything from Ravenna that he liked. Charlemagne made three looting expeditions to Ravenna, removing a vast quantity of Roman columns, mosaics, statues and other portable items to enrich his capital of Aachen.

Under Papal rule, the archbishop of Ravenna enjoyed autocephaly from the Roman Church - a privilege obtained under Byzantine rule. Due to donations by the Ottonian emperors, the archbishop of Ravenna was the richest in Italy after the Papacy, and was thus successfully able to challenge the temporal authority of the Pope on occasion.

At the end of the 12th century, with the rise of the free cities, Ravenna lost its hinterland. Power rotated among the influential local families: the Traversarys, Rasponis and Polentarys. One of the most illustrious residents of Ravenna at this time was the exiled poet Dante. In 1512, during the Holy League wars, Ravenna was sacked by the French.

From 1441-1509, Ravenna was ruled by Venice. After the Venetian withdrawal, Ravenna was again ruled by legates of the Pope as one of the Papal States. The city was damaged in a tremendous flood in May 1636. Over the next 3 centuries, a network of canals diverted nearby rivers and drained nearby swamps, thus reducing the possibility of flooding and creating a large belt of agricultural land around the city.

Ravenna and the surrounding Romagna area became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.

[edit] Main sights

Eight early Christian monuments of Ravenna are inscribed on the World Heritage List. These are

Other tourist attractions include:

[edit] Transportation

Ravenna has an important commercial and tourist port.

By road, it can be reached through from the highway hub of Bologna or, from Venice, with State Road 309 "Romea". From Rome the fastest connections is the E45 International Road; the other main connection to southern Italy is the State Street 16 "Adriatica".

The railroad station has connections to Bologna, Venice, Verona and Rimini.

The nearest airports are those of Forlì and Bologna.

[edit] External links

Coordinates: 44°25′N 12°12′Ebs:Ravenna bg:Равена ca:Ravenna cs:Ravenna da:Ravenna de:Ravenna et:Ravenna es:Rávena eo:Ravenna fr:Ravenne is:Ravenna it:Ravenna he:רוונה hu:Ravenna nl:Ravenna (stad) ja:ラヴェンナ la:Ravenna nap:Ravenna no:Ravenna nds:Ravenna pl:Rawenna pt:Ravenna ro:Ravenna ru:Равенна sr:Равена fi:Ravenna sv:Ravenna zh:拉文納


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