Alghero is a beautiful coastal city of medieval origin situated in the northwestern coral coast of Sardinia. This town is 300 miles off the coast of Spain near Barcelona. They speak Italian as well as Catalan.
The recently refurbished cathedral of Santa Maria (Cattedrale di Santa Maria Immacolata di Alghero) stands in Piazza del Duomo on Via Sant’Erasmo. Some of its oldest structures provide an outstanding example of the late Catalan-Gothic period. This cathedral has been the bishop’s seat since 1503.
This cathedral is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It has an elaborate apse and an octagonal bell tower with a pyramidal cuspid. Some of the construction has dramatically transformed the interior and the façade. The original facade was replaced in 1862. The changes include four neo-classical Doric Columns supporting a triangular pediment and a new central staircase.
The bell-tower is behind the church. It was part of the first phase of late Gothic construction and was modeled after the Cathedral of Barcelona. It has an octagonal barrel and pointed arch openings. It is crowned with a slender pyramid-shaped spire with polychrome majolica that is commonly used in Catalonia. The distinctive Gothic bell tower can be visited during high season.
In 1503 Pope Julius II implemented a major overhaul of the dioceses of Sardinia. He was supported in his efforts by King Ferdinand II. The first part of the building was finished during the first half of the XVI century and Alghero’s noble families guaranteed the financing needed to complete the project.
The Cathedral was consecrated in 1730; 400 years after its foundation. It houses the neoclassical marble mausoleum of the Duke of Monferrato, brother of King Carlo Felice of Savoy, who died in 1799. This mausoleum was sculpted by Felice Festa in 1807.
The interior space has three naves, separated by pillars and columns. There are six chapels adorned with interesting sacred art. The first chapel to the right is dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament and it has an imposing altar consecrated in 1824. The carved marble is decorated the center with a circular temple reminiscent of the Temple of Vesta in Rome.
The presbytery has five chapels which include the base of the bell tower. It is surrounded by a balustrade, made of inlaid marble with a coral hue. On the sides of the stairway to the altar there are two marble lions that resemble their kindred spirits in the Cathedral of Cagliari.
The balustrated high altar has a group of sculptures depicting the Immaculate Conception accompanied by angels.
Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Italy Travel Guides available @ www.vino-con-vista.com