Basilica of San Francesco, Ravenna

Basilica in Ravenna

Basilica Of San Francesco
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wilfred Krause

The Basilica of San Francesco in Ravenna is a magnificent Romanesque-style church located in the heart of the Zone of Silence. According to the locals, it is one of the most beautiful basilicas in the city.

Historical Significance:

  • Originally consecrated to the Holy Apostles and later to Saint Peter, the basilica dates back to the middle of the 5th century AD.
  • The basilica played a significant role in the life of Dante Alighieri, the renowned Italian poet. It was the favorite church of the Da Polenta family, who were the lords of the city and hosted Dante during his exile. Dante’s funeral was held here on September 13th, 1321, and his remains were temporarily interred in a 5th-century sarcophagus in the da Polenta family chapel along the left nave.

History of the Basilica:

  • The basilica has undergone several restorations and modifications over the centuries. From 1261 to 1810 and again from 1949 to the present, it has been used as the seat of the Franciscan order, adopting the name of St. Francis.
  • In 1921, during restoration work, the Baroque elements were removed from the church, restoring its original 14th-century austere and linear appearance, which is more in line with the sensibilities of the Franciscan order.

Interior Features:

  • The basilica features three naves separated by two rows of 12 columns each.
  • The exterior of the church is adorned with a sturdy square bell tower dating back to the 9th century.
  • Inside, there is a semicircular apse that appears lower on the outside due to subsidence. The apse is adorned with mosaics.
  • A window located beneath the main altar provides a view of a 10th-century crypt. This oratory-shaped room was intended to house the remains of Bishop Neon, the founder of the church.
  • The original mosaics from the older church can still be seen underwater beneath the current pavement.
  • The basilica also contains three beautiful chapels from the 16th century along the right nave. These chapels are adorned with sculptures and frescoes, dedicated to saints, and showcase impressive artwork.

The Basilica of San Francesco is not only a place of historical and religious significance but also a remarkable example of Romanesque architecture and artistry in Ravenna.

The Basilica of San Francesco, Ravenna appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Ravenna!

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Visiting Basilica of San Francesco, Ravenna


Monday to Friday: 7 am – 12 pm and 3 pm – 6 pm

Saturdays and Sundays: 7 am – 6.30 pm



Address: Basilica of Saint Francis, Piazza San Francesco, Ravenna, Province of Ravenna, Italy
Duration: 20 minutes

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