Basilica di San Giovanni Evangelista

Basilica in Ravenna

Basilica Di San Giovanni Evangelista
CC BY-SA 3.0 / sailko

The Basilica of San Giovanni Evangelista is one of the beautiful basilicas in Ravenna, Italy, and it has a rich history and architectural significance. Here are some key details about this basilica:

Origins and Location:

  • Originally known as the Church of the Saints Nicander and Marcian, the basilica was originally located by the coast, near the sea. Over time, it has experienced the phenomenon of subsidence, causing gradual sinking of the ground in the area.
  • The basilica’s original location made it an impressive sight, particularly for those arriving from the sea, as it stood tall and majestic.

Myth and Legend:

  • The basilica of San Giovanni Evangelista was commissioned by Empress Galla Placidia after 424 AD. She made a vow to build a religious structure after surviving a storm during her journey back from Constantinople following her brother Honorius’ death.
  • The inscription on the monument reads: “Galla Placidia, her son Placidus Valentinianus Augustus and her daughter Justa Grata Honoria fulfilled the vows they made to be saved from the storms of the sea.”

Structure and Architecture:

  • In the Middle Ages, the entrance to the basilica was preceded by a large four-sided portico, which has since been replaced by a wall. The entrance today is through a majestic 14th-century Gothic-style gate.
  • The basilica follows a typical three-nave basilica plan.
  • Fragments of the ancient floor dating back to the 13th century can still be seen along the walls. These floor fragments are beautifully decorated with depictions of medieval court scenes, stories of knights and ladies, fantastical animals, and references to the Crusades.
  • The original bell tower, adjoining the basilica, dates back to the 10th century.

Renovation and Restoration:

  • Over the centuries, the basilica has undergone various renovation and restoration works.
  • In 1944, during World War II, the basilica suffered extensive damage due to air raids. These raids resulted in the destruction of the cycle of frescoes that had been painted between the 12th and 14th centuries, as well as the mosaics in the apse.

The Basilica of San Giovanni Evangelista, with its rich history and architectural elements, stands as a testament to the passage of time and historical events in Ravenna. Despite the damage it has endured, it continues to be a significant religious and historical site in the city.

The Basilica di San Giovanni Evangelista appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Ravenna!

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Visiting Basilica di San Giovanni Evangelista


FROM 1st APRIL: From Tuesday to Sunday: 10.00 am – 1.00 pm / 3.00 pm – 6.00 pm


Monday 10th and 24th April, 1st May: 10.00 am – 1.00 pm / 3.00 pm – 6.00 pm



Address: Basilica di San Giovanni Evangelista, Viale Luigi Carlo Farini, Ravenna, Province of Ravenna, Italy
Duration: 20 minutes

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