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Irish Round Towers

35 34 ravenna the city of the round campanili Ravenna is famous, not for its round campanili but for its spectacular Byzantine churches and their mosaics. It flourished as the western capital of the Byzantine empire until it was captured in the 750s and given to the papacy, after which its churches were handed over to monastic communities Probably in the late eighth century the first European bell tower was built beside the church dedicated to San Apollinare, Ravennas patron saint, at Classe, the citys enormous port, once the great harbour of Roman and Byzantine fleets. However Classe was dying, as it was silting up Venice would soon arise to take its place, and in 858 the local archbishop moved San Apollinares remains to another Byzantine church in Ravenna itself. Here he built a crypt under the church identical to the one at Classe to house the saints bones, and also another round campanile beside it campanili were later heightened. Soon the idea caught on, and monasteries all over Ravenna were putting up round campanili beside their Byzantine churches. Not only that, but there were also two Irish monastic communities in Ravenna at the time, so the idea was passed back to Ireland, and before long they were building their own round bell towers too, paying no attention when the fashion changed and the Italians started building the square ones with which we are so familiar.
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