The palace, of which nothing actually remains to us, though certain additions made to it during the exarchate are still standing, was, according to the various chroniclers whose works remain to us, surrounded by porticoes, such as Theodoric built in many places, and was carved with precious marbles and mosaics. It was of considerable size, set in the midst of a park or gardens. Something of what it was we may gather from the mosaics of S. Apollinare Nuovo in which it is conventionally represented. It came to owe much to Amalasuntha who lived there during her brief reign, and more to the exarchs who made it their official residence.
In 751 when Ravenna fell into the hands of the Lombards Aistulf established himself there, but it might seem that the place had suffered grievously in the wars, and it was probably little more than a mighty ruin when, in 784, Charlemagne obtained permission from the pope to strip it of its marbles and its ornaments and to carry them off to Aix-la-Chapelle. Among these was an equestrian statue in gilded bronze, according to Agnellus a portrait of the great Gothic king, but as Dr Ricci suggests a statue of the Emperor Zeno. This too in the time of Leo III. Charlemagne carried away. According to the same authority the back of the palace was not then very far from the sea, and this was so even in 1098. Nothing I think can give us a better idea of the change that has come over the contado of Ravenna than an examination of its situation to-day, more than four miles from the sea coast.
The only memorial we have left to us in situ of that palace of the Gothic king is a half-ruined building, really a mere facade with round-arched blind arcades and a central niche in the upper story, a colonnade in two stories, and the bases of two round towers with a vast debris of ruined foundations, walls, and brickwork, scarcely anything of which, in so far as it may be said to be still standing, would seem to have been a part of the palace Theodoric built. Indeed the ruined facade would seem to belong to a guard house built in the time of the exarchs in the seventh or eighth century. If we seek then for some memory of Theodoric in this place we shall be disappointed.