Ravenna: Mausoleum of Theoderic

When the Ostrogothic king Theoderic died in Ravenna in 526, Italy had been part of his kingdom for over 30 years. Theoderic was anything but the stereotypical barbarian ruler. He was just, cultured, educated and mostly tolerant. Furthermore, he had excellent strategic insight and most of Italy prospered economically under…

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Ravenna: The Orthodox Baptistery

Ravenna’s Orthodox Baptistery was built by bishop Ursus just to the north of Ravenna’s cathedral, the Duomo, which was also Ursus’ work. However, it was bishop Neon (ca. 450-473) who rebuilt and redecorated the Baptistery, and the structure is now often named the ‘Neonian Baptistery’ after him. The decorations inside…

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Ravenna: The Duomo

The full name of Ravenna’s immense cathedral or Duomo is the cattedrale metropolitana della Risurrezione di Nostro Signore Gesù Cristo. It is dedicated to the resurrection (anastasis) of Jesus Christ. The cathedral was built in the eighteenth century on the footprint of the Late Antique cathedral dating back to the…

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Pisa: Other attractions

Now that the Duomo, the Bapistery & Leaning Tower and the Camposanto have all been discussed, it is time to take stock of what else the city of Pisa has in store for history enthusiasts. When we walked from the railway station to the Piazza dei Miracoli and back –…

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Pisa: Camposanto

If you go to the Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa, you will have to buy tickets to visit the buildings. Combination tickets are available, and you can choose whether you want to see just one or several attractions, or everything. Since there was a long queue of people waiting to…

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Pisa: Baptistery and Leaning Tower

The Duomo, discussed previously, is the oldest building in the Piazza dei Miracoli, or rather the building whose construction started first. Numbers two and three are the Baptistery and the Leaning Tower. Almost everyone in The Netherlands knows the Leaning Tower. Not because they have all been to Pisa, but…

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Pisa: The Duomo

It was a horrible, windy, rainy day in early May of 2010 when we visited the famous city of Pisa in Tuscany. Pisa has a long and illustrious history, and nowhere is this illustrated more than at the Piazza dei Miracoli – the Square of the Miracles – in the…

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Rome: Castel Sant’Angelo

It is difficult to imagine that this imposing cylindrical drum on a large square platform was once the tomb of the Roman Emperor Hadrianus (117-138), also known as Hadrian. The original decorations are all gone and the structure was turned into a formidable fortress long ago. It has also served…

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Rome: San Francesco a Ripa

The San Francesco is small church in Trastevere, located near the western shore (ripa) of the river Tiber. It is of course dedicated to none other than Saint Franciscus of Assisi, one of the best-known and most important saints in the history of the Catholic Church. His preaching was in…

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Rome: San Giorgio in Velabro

It is difficult to explain why a tourist in Rome should visit the San Giorgio in Velabro. There is not much of interest to see. The architecture is clumsy, there are no artistic treasures inside and the only thing that can be considered ‘art’ – the apse fresco – is…

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Rome: San Tommaso in Formis

San Tommasso in Formis is a very small church from the thirteenth century on the Caelian hill. It has been restored on multiple occasions between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. The church itself is not that interesting. Much more interesting churches with a much richer history, like the Santa Maria…

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Rome: Santa Croce in Gerusalemme

The Santa Croce in Gerusalemme is an old Roman Catholic church that is just within the third century Aurelian Walls of the city. The church is architecturally and culturally rather unimpressive, but it is very important from a religious point of view. There has been a Christian place of worship…

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Rome: San Pietro in Montorio

This church is located on the Gianicolo, an ancient hill north and west of Trastevere which was named after the Roman god Janus. The San Pietro in Montorio is dedicated to Saint Peter, the apostle who needs no further introduction. An old tradition dictates that Peter was crucified upside down…

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