For centuries the Porto di Classe (the Harbour of Classe) was one of the major and most prestigious seaports of the Ancient World: at the end of the first century BC, at emperor Augustus’ bidding, mighty breakwaters were built to allow the ships to enter the harbour, and the imperial fleet was located at Classe to control the entire Eastern Mediterranean sea. Here Apollinare landed from Turkey: he became the first bishop of the city, and precisely in Classe he would be martyrised on July 23, 74 AD, and would later be elected patron saint of Ravenna. In the fifth century – Ravenna had risen to the status of capital in 402 – Classe became an important civitas and was no longer only an harbour, since it played a fundamental role both as a commercial hub and a military stronghold. The fifth century urban plan, with its layout of streets and buildings, was at the centre of the attention of the project “Museo a cielo aperto” (“Open-air Museum”), the first stage of the Archaelogical Park of Classe which covered about 10 thousand square metres of land. The Late Antiquity and Byzantine age were recreated as to highlight the context and scope of that great commercial harbour, placed at the heart of the most relevant trade routes with Africa and, especially after 540, with the Orient. There are storehouses; identifiable connections between the quays and the island at the centre of the harbour channel; the basolo paved road along which wagons travelled, carrying goods to Ravenna and the Empire. Besides, the whole area is scattered with most important findings and monuments, starting with Sant’Apollinare in Classe; but also the Museo della Città e del Territorio, and the ruins of the basilica of San Severo. Thus, starting from the first surveys in 1961 to the excavation campaigns in the 70s (the harbour was identified in 1975), the territory of Ravenna can boast another feature of excellence. Indeed, the long-time endeavour of the Ravennantica Foundation brought on, in 2015, the opening of the archaeological site with an enhancement project signed by architect Daniela Bardeschi, the first step of the Parco Archeologico di Classe (Archaelogical Park of Classe).
Via Marabina, 7 – Ravenna
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