The Ancient Port of Classe

The Ancient Port is the first site of the Archaeological Park of Classe, developed around the important Basilica of Sant'Apollinare, which will be then enriched with the Museum of the City, housed in the former Sugar Factory of Classe and with excavations of the Basilica of San Severo. The port of Classe was for many centuries one of the most prestigious ports of the ancient world: towards the end of the 1st century BC, Octavian Augustus built here the imposing docks which allowed ships to access to the sea and set up the Imperial fleet for the control of the entire Eastern Mediterranean sea. During the 5th century, with Ravenna as a capital (402), Classe became an important city (civitas) and not only a port, assuming an essential role as a commercial point as well as a military bulwark towards the sea. Just to this period -that of the golden age of the Capital Ravenna and Classe - dates back the general system of streets and buildings that represent the heart of the project of musealization of the open-air site of the Ancient Port, that is the phase port dating back to the Late Antiquity and Byzantine period, which documents the dimension and context of how a big commercial port was, a port in the middle of massive trade with Africa, and, in particular after the 540, with the East. Visitors can then admire the reconstruction of a big port infrastructure, with warehouses, links that lead from the docks to the island in the middle of the channel port and a paved road from which the wagons leaved with goods towards the city of Ravenna. The entrance of the site leads into the large square, where we find the ticket office/bookshop and the Visitor Center with its elliptical multimedial room, where the multiple wall and floor projections have been designed as a single system of visual involvement, in order to present an historical, geographical and archaeological view of the site. The historical narration occurs through a character, imagined as a merchant active in the ancient port of Classe. The tour continues along the route, developed into two paths, one inside the archaeological excavation and an external one, projected to provide a minimal physical and visual impact on archaeological structures and without architectural barriers. The visitor can walk on a new path that goes in some points nearby the ancient paved road. Along the route were installed 10 panels with iconographic and textual explanations and 5 "slabs of perspective", graphic overlay panels, made of glass, showing the architectural reconstructions of elements, that are no more visible, overlapping the view of the rear landscape and giving back an idea of the complex as it was supposed to be in the ancient time.

Site Details

LOCATION Ravenna, Via Marabina, 7
PERIOD 5th – 6th century A. D.
urban settlement with many different structures
PERIOD OF EXCAVATION 1974-1976, 1980-1990 and 2001-2005
OWNERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT Superintendence for the archaeological heritage of Emilia-Romangna (concesion to Foundation RavennAntica)
SITE PROTECTIONS Devices for Visitor Path
Devices of Accessing Restriction
Drainage System
Plan Regular Maintenance
CREATED BY Raffaella Branzi Maltoni