Basilica di San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy

The influence of the Catholic Church can be found throughout Europe. It seems that every city had a wonderful cathedral and there was tremendous competition to build one that was considered better that the neighboring towns. While this kind of competition was probably not in line with the tenants of the Catholic religion, it resulted in some amazing structures that are still around today. One such church is the Basilica di San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy. The Basilica dates from the mid-6th century and contains what are probably the finest Byzantine mosaics in the western world. Construction of San Vitale Basilica was initiated by Ecclesius, Bishop of Ravenna, shortly after a trip to Byzantium with Pope John in 525. The outside of the Basilica is very understated and contrasts dramatically with the magnificence of the inside. Upon entering the Basilica, you are exposed to some of the most beautiful murals made of Byzantine mosaics that you will ever encounter. The inside was very dark and since tripods were not allowed, I pushed the ISO as high as I could and used pillars to lean on and steady myself. While not as sharp as I would have liked, I think the image came out pretty well, all things considered.