Ravenna is the best place to see Early Christian and Byzantine church architecture and decoration of the 5th and 6th centuries. In 401 AD the city became the capital of the Western Roman Empire and mosaic-clad churches were constructed. Ravenna continued to flourish during the early 6th century under the Ostrogoths, who were responsible for commissioning further splendid monuments. In 540 AD it became the main outpost of the Byzantine Empire in Western Europe, experiencing yet another lavish period of patronage. The Lombards assumed control in 751 AD and decline seemed inevitable, but this apparent reversal of fortune was vital in ensuring the survival of the marble and mosaic-encrusted monuments of Ravenna’s illustrious past.
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