Thursday, June 14, 2018

House of the Stone Carpets, Ravenna

The core set of elaborately glittering golden mosaics in Ravenna are indubitably the most famous, but they are not the only show in town. We also visited the so-called "Stone Carpets", a set of Roman/Byzantine mosaics with a backstory almost as fabulous as the mosaics themselves.

You reach the House of the Stone Carpets via the next-door church of Saint Eufemia. There, you pass underground, three metres below current ground level, to an excavated Byzantine palace which was only discovered in 1993 during the (attempted) construction of an underground garage. Covering around 1200 sq metres, the 14 rooms and three courtyards of the small palace are covered with intricately patterned "carpets" in stone, as well as a couple of stand-out figurative mosaics. The mosaics were restored and the returned to their original location, albeit now in a modern excavation space that allows visitors to walk "through" the house on raised platforms. It only opened to the public in 2002.

It was peaceful and not crowded when we visited (luckily, otherwise it might be unpleasant to have to queue along the platforms), probably because it is less known, less flashy than the main sites, and not included in the combination ticket to the religious buildings. It's a nice chance to see a secular building with a more intimate and low-key mosaic decoration.

The dance of the seasons

Lighting didn't quite work out for a photo with the dancing mosaic

Christ as the Good Shepherd. This is apparently quite different from the standard representation, although none of the sites I've consulted say how exactly. I would guess his very youthful, countrified appearance

1 comment:

  1. It's so much more relaxing visiting sites that don't have a lot of visitors! I remember visiting Provins, France in the winter-- there was hardly anyone there. Of course, it was very cold...


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