Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna

The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, built in the 5th Century is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring the most ancient, precious mosaics in Ravenna.

The embroidered pattern consisting of concentric circles is inspired by the rose of the facade of the Church of St Peter, a Romanesque Church in Tuscania, in the province of Viterbo. The three-level circular decoration, which symbolises the Holy Trinity, culminates in the centre with the elegant form of a flower with twelve petals and is outlined, at the corners, by the allegorical figures of the four evangelists.

The collection


OVS Arts of Italy is not only a project which creatively combines the languages of art and fashion. Its main aim is to bring the Italian artistic heritage closer to the OVS community through an original story. That's why OVS Art News items have been created: curiosities, anecdotes and ideas for a more in-depth acquaintance with Italian art to enable you to rediscover, enjoy and appreciate the extraordinary beauty under the eyes of us all.

Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna

As well as the famous Mausoleum, the city of Ravenna has another extraordinary treasure, especially in the light of its stunning mosaics: the basilica of San Vitale. The oriental influence often found in Ravenna’s architecture, has a dominant role in the external structure and also the decoration of the interior mosaics. And it is due to the artistic and spiritual value of the basilica, which is UNESCO World Heritage Site, that it is the only Italian church to be ranked as one of the world’s top 19 important holy sites.

Mausoleo di Galla Placidia

"In Ravenna there are many modest works, but the mosaics are of incredible beauty"; this was written in 1903 by Gustav Klimt on a postcard sent to his mother after a trip to the ancient Byzantine city. Among the works of the "Golden Period" by the famous Austrian painter, it is easy to find gold, typical of the artistic heritage of the city, used as a decorative element in addition to the juxtaposition of small elements which precisely recall the tiles of a mosaic.

Mausoleum of Galla Placidia

"Night and day, you are the one, only you beneath the moon, under the sun"... Cole Porter made the words of this melody eternal, but maybe not everyone knows that the notes of "Night and Day" were inspired by the magical night atmosphere of the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna, which bewitched the composer during his honeymoon at the end of the twenties.

The art work

Galla Placidia, the sister of Honorius, the emperor who had the capital of the Western Roman Empire moved from Milan to Ravenna, ordered the building of a Latin cross-shaped funereal monument around 425-450 A.D. However, the mausoleum, which is still fully integral today, was never used as the Empress was buried in Rome. The building is simple and plain on the outside, with no embellishments, while on the inside, there is a wealth of mosaic decorations, made even more brilliant by the golden light that filters through the alabaster windows.

The internal area – from the walls to the vaults - is filled with light and colour from the amazing Byzantine mosaics, considered to be the best in Ravenna. In the dome, covered by a multitude of golden stars, all the iconographic themes – from animals of the Apocalypse to the Apostles – remind one of the victory of life over death, and a large cross that emerges from the blue background of the night-time sky, is triumphant, a symbol of the resurrection and eternal life. The barrel vaulted ceiling, decorated with roses that are shown as ice crystals, inspired by patterns on silks and fabrics, conjures up the atmosphere of a starry sky that D'Annunzio called: "The blue-green night shining of gold".