Basilica of Sant' Apollinare Nuovo
The Basilica of Sant' Apollinare Nuovo is a basilica church in Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna (Italy). It was erected by the Ostrogoth King Theodoric as his palace chapel, during the first quarter of the 6th century (as attested in the Liber Pontificalis). This Arian church was originally dedicated in 504 CE to Christ the Redeemer.
It was reconsecrated in 561, under the rule of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I, under the new name "Sanctus Martinus in Coelo Aureo" ("Saint Martin in Golden Heaven"). Suppressing the Arian cult, the church was dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours, a foe of Arianism. According to legend, Pope Gregory the Great ordered that the mosaics in the church to be blackened, as their golden glory distracted worshippers from the prayers. The basilica was renamed again in 856, when relics of Saint Apollinaris were transferred from the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe because of the threat posed by frequent raids of Adriatic pirates.
Its apse and atrium underwent modernization at various times, beginning in the 6th century with the destruction of mosaics whose themes were too overtly Arian or which expressed the king's glory, but the mosaics of the lateral walls, twenty-four columns with simplified Corinthian capitals, and an Ambo are preserved. On some columns parts (arms and hands) of figures once representing praying Goths and Theodoric's court, deleted in Byzantine times, can be seen. Renovations (and alterations) were done to the mosaics in the mid-19th century by Felice Kibel. The present apse is a reconstruction after being damaged during World War I.
The entrance of the church is preceded by a marble portico built in the 16th century. Next to the church, on the right side of the portico, stands a round bell tower dating from the 9th or 10th century.
When the UNESCO inscribed the church on the World Heritage List, its experts pointed out that "both the exterior and interior of the basilica graphically illustrate the fusion between the western and eastern styles characteristic of the late 5th to early 6th century. This is one of the most important buildings from the period of crucial cultural significance in European religious art".