The small red line to the left of Apollinaris shows indicates an area of the mosaic that is restored. I wish more mosaics were restore like this rather than leaving hideous open areas. Daphni is an example or good restoration that was done in the 1890s. Even that should have gone further. I see no reason not to restore plain gold backgrounds and decorative borders so long as you see the areas that have been repaired like this. Saint Apollinaris was a Bishop of Ravenna during the reign of the Roman Emperor Vespasian, who was martyred. This mosaic is in the apse of his church in the port city of Ravenna, Classe, which was a headquarters of the Roman fleet that was expanded by Augustus.
Virgin Martyr of Ravenna
On the left side of the church is a procession of 22 Virgins in mosaic of the Byzantine period, led by the Three Magi, moving from the city of Classe towards the group of the Madonna and Child surrounded by four angels.
Justinian I, Roman Emperor
He was emperor from 527 until 565. During his reign large part of the Western Empire, including Italy and Ravenna was recovered for the empire. His representatives there had the Church of San Vitale decorated with mosaics. This portrait of Justinian was taken from life and sent to Ravenna where it was inserted into the plaster as a part of a large procession of him along with military officers and high-church officials that were added by local mosaic artists.
Theodora, Empress and Augusta
She was born in the year 500 and died in 548. Theodora was a famous former actress and courtesan. She is most famous for saying "royal purple is the noblest shroud" when asked her opinion on whether she and her husband should flee by boat during riots in Constantinople. As a result of her defiance, Justinian ordered his loyal troops, led by his general Belisarius, to attack the rioters in the hippodrome, killing over 30,000 of them. After Theodora died of cancer she and her husband were made saints in the orthodox church. This mosaic is one of only two or three portraits of her to survive.
Sheep from Saint Apollinaris in Classe
Here are two sheep from the geat pse mosaic of the church of Saint Apollinaris in Classe. The sheep are symbols of humanity who are gathered together and protected by the Good Shepherd - Christ. There was a great marble frieze of sheep processing into Hagia Sophia above the colonnade of the Theodosian ancestor-churchof Justinian's great cathedral. It's remains are laid in front of the other narthex of the church.
Saint from Saint Apollinaris Nuovo
The next row of mosaics are a scheme of haloed saints, prophets and evangelists, sixteen on each side. The figures are executed in a Hellenistic-Roman tradition and show a certain individuality of expression as compared to the other figures in the basilica. Each individual depicted holds a book, in either scroll or codex format, and, like many of the other figures throughout the basilica, each of their robes has a mark or symbol in it. They all wear white tunics and himations. These mosaics alternate with windows. The robes are made of three shades of white marble and limestone cubes. The gold background is studded with red terracotta cubes. This was intentional and toned down and made the background look less garish. Silver cubes were lso added to the backgrounds of Hagia Sophia. This mosaic was made in the time of Theodoric.
Christ and the Samaritan Woman
Justinian had the original well brought to Constantinople from Palestine where it was installed in the Chapel of the Holy Well on the right side of the sanctuary of Hagia Sophia. The circular well head existed in its original location until the 6th century, when it was moved tho the church because riots and church burnings in Samaria threatened it with destruction.
Justinian had attempted to suppress the Samaritan religion through forced conversions which evoked violent reaction from the people. The Holy Well was in Hagia Sophia at least until 1453.
Palace of Theodoric
Above is a portion of the the palace of Theodoric from the Church of Saint Apollinaris Nuovo. He was an Arian Christian, which was an early heresy in the church that believed Christ was a human who became divine. The heresy was widspread, especially among the Germanic troops of the late Roman Empire. Constantine the Great - the first Christian Roman Emperor was said to have been an Arian.
After Theodoric's death and Justinian restored Italy to the Empire all images that depicted him and other people were removed from the mosaic and covered with other images. Of the original figures, the hands still remain on the columns of the palace. You can see the remnants of a ghostly hand on the right hand column.
Ambo of the Church
It is made of Proconnesian marble from an island of in the Sea of Marmora near Constantinople. The ambo, columns and capitals of the church were all imported from here by ship. Originally the ambo was set in the center of the church.
Porphyry Ciborium Columns
There are four porphyry columns in the apse that come from the original Ciborium - altar - of the church. The roof would have been made of marble or even of silver. Justinian probably gave this church complete silver fittings for its sanctuary. You can see the columns are not the same size. One has a taller base to accommodate it. Porphyry was very rare, it came from the eastern desert of Egypt. The stone is hard and difficult to work. It is prone to split when too much weight is put on it. It was widely used in Roman times and was mined up until the time of Constantine. Later if you wanted porphyry columns ina church or palace you had to reuse them. They could be of odd sizes. All of the porphyry columns of Hagia Sophia are different lengths.
These columns have very pretty capitals, two are matching sets in white marble. You can learn more about porphyry in Hagia Sophia here.
Angel from San Vitale
In the vault of the apse of San Vitale are four angels in acanthus scrolls populated with doves, parrots and other birds holding an image of the Lamb of God, which is a symbol of the sacrifice of Christ for humanity. They are Hellenistic in style.
The Lamb of God
Here is a view of it. The green parrot has a cord around it's neck, showing it was a pet bird. You can learn more about Byzantine parrots here.
Christ Treads Upon the Devil
Above we can see a mosaic from the archbishop's Chapel showing Christ overcoming evil. He is dressed in the uniform of a military emperor and commander. The inscription reads from John 14.6: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life". From Psalm 91 we read - "Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet".
From the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, which was built between 425-450. The mausoleum is reputed to have inspired American songwriter Cole Porter to compose "Night and Day" while on a 1920s visit.
Marble Revetment from San Vitale
Here are two book-matched double panels of cippolino rosso marble set in bands of heavy veined in gray proconnesian white marble. Cipollino rosso, also called Carian or Iasos marble, comes from Kiyi Kislacik in Mugla province, Turkey and is mined today.
If you would like to learn more about marble revetment in Byzantine churches - read this page.