Category Archives: Alghero Sardinia

Alghero’s Cathedral of Santa Maria in Italy

Catalan Gothic cathedral's bell tower in Alghe...

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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.

Door of the Cathedral’s Bell Tower in Alghero Sardinia

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.

Campanile of Santa Maria Cathedral in Alghero Sardinia

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.

alghero Sardinia

Ornate lions in the cathedral of Alghero

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 Virgin protects the sailors in Alghero Sardinia

The Baptism in Alghero’s Cathedral

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.

The main altar of the cathedral in Alghero Sardinia

There is an elegant pulpit . Behind the wooden choir, in the apse there are five Gothic radial chapels.

Cathedral of Alghero Sardinia

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Italy Travel Guides available @

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Alghero’s Museum of Sacred Art is Full of Treasures

Alghero‘s origins date back to the 10th century when the Genoese, with the help of Pisans, repelled the Arabs. Then they obtained land grants from the Judges (giudicati) of Logudoro that governed Sardinia during the Middle Ages.

The first capital city for the Giudicato of Logudoro was ancient Torres (now Porto Torres), but it was exposed to Arab attacks. Eventually, the seat of the judgeship was transferred to Ardara and finally to Sassari.

By the tenth century, the map on the right shows that the island was divided into four provinces or giudicati during the High Middle Ages Logudoro in the northwest section was the largest; Gallura to the east; Arborea to the south and Cagliari to the southeast. Later Logudoro and Arborea were combined into one province at the start of the eleventh century.

The Giudicato of Logudoro  was also known as the Giudicato of Torres, after Porto Torres. This area covered the northwest portion of Sardinia from the tenth through the thirteenth century. This is where Alghero is located.

Alghero was built around a fortified port, founded around 1102 by the Genoese Doria family. The Doria ruled it for centuries, apart from a brief period under the rule of Pisa (1283–1284). The Doria had fiefs in Sardinia from the 12th century to the 15th century. They also had fiefdoms in Dolceacqua, Oneglia and Portofino, in the Riviera to the west of Genoa.

In 1353 it was captured by the Aragonese under Bernardo de Cabrera. The Algherese revolted against the garrison’s commanding officer and killed him.  The Spanish responded by sending 12,000 men and 100 galleys to suppress the revolt.  A treaty was signed and the original Sardinian inhabitants were forced to abandon their homes and move to the town of Villanova about 25 killometers away.

The port became the main route between Catolonia and Sardinia and the town of Alghero was inhabited by Catalan colonists creating a distinctive Catonian settlement. The Spanish dominated the city for 360 years. Today, this region of Italy, enclosed with fortress walls is referred to as Little Barcelona. In 1720, control of Alghero passed to the House of Savoy.

To appreciate the sacred history of this charming town, visit the Museo Diocesano d’Arte Sacra. It is located in the historical center of the city of Alghero in the Rosary Church (Chiesa Del Rosario). The former church was enlarged between the 14th and 15th century when the upper floor was added to the structure.

The edifice became a church in the second half of the 17trh century. It was used as a place of worship until the first post-war period and ultimately became a museum in 2000. It is next to the Cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The treasures of the diocese of Alghero-Bosa are preserved in this Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art.

The Museum is in the former Church of Rosario on Piazza Duomo. The building was originally the Oratorio del Rosario; it belonged to the confraternity that founded the church of San Francesco in 1568. The small museum is packed with precious sacred art, artifacts and liturgical treasures.

The museum collection is divided into six sections: silver,  paintings, wooden sculptures, wood carving, stone and bronze. You will find an early 16th century “Our Lady of Sailors” from the Cathedral of the Virgin next door. It is attributed to a Catalan workshop. The museum opened on June 30, 2002 and preserves the Cathedral’s liturgical art, as well as sacred art from other churches in the diocese of Alghero-Bosa.

Our Lady of the Sailors

There is a beautiful “Eucharistic Throne” from 1720 from the Cathedral of the Virgin Mary. It is embossed and engraved from the workshop of Giovanni Andrea Lay from Cagliari.

Eucharistic Throne

There is a 17th century marble statue of  “Our Lady of Mercy” from the Church of Saint Michael that was created by a Ligurian workshop.

I loved the 19th century wooden carving of  “Baby Jesus” (Bambinello) from the Church of Saint Michael. It was adorned with coral and attributed to a Sicilian workshop.


The 17th century “Assumption of the Virgin” is  from a Sardinian workshop.

Assumption of the Virgin

There are precious sacred treasures from Alghero’s historical churches.

St. Lucy

Holy Family

In the Silver section there are beautiful objects created by silversmiths.  There is an impressive Catalan reliquary of the True Cross created by an unknown silversmith from Alghero in 1500.

The 17th century, Reliquary of a Holy Innocent Martyr is embossed in chiseled silver from a Sardinian workshop. It was originally in the Cathedral of the Virgin Mary.


Ornate Crucifix in Alghero Sardinia

This beautiful 17th century jeweled Monstrance (Ostensorio) was made by a silversmith from Trapani in 1679.

In the “Wooden Sculptures” Area of the Museum, there are many saints and representations of the Virgin. The golden statue represents the “Madonna dei Naviganti” by an unknown Catalan artist from the 15th century.

Madonna dei Naviganti


Some of the polychrome wooden carvings from the seventeenth century to the nineteenth centuries include a gigantic San Michele Arcangelo (St.Michael the Archangel) from the end of the 17th century. It was formerly displayed in the church dedicated to St. Michael a few blocks away. The 18th century “Saint Joseph with the Child” from the church of Our Lady of Carmelo  is a polychrome wooden carving from a Neapolitan workshop.

There is a lovely 18th century oil on canvas Italian painting of “The Holy Family with the Saints Joachim and Anna.”

There are also a series of mid-17th century paintings by Genoese painters of scenes from the lives of Jesus and the Virgin. The 17th century brutal Ligurian School representation of the  “Scourging of Christ”  painting below is from the Church of Our Lady of Mercy.

Scourging of Christ

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Italy Travel Guides @

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Alghero’s Spectacular Vino con Vista Sea-Caves in Neptune’s Grotto

Grotta di Nettuno, Sardinien

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For an amazing day trip from Alghero‘s Old Town, visit the spectacular sea-caves  of Neptune’s Grotto located at the promontory of Capo Caccia.  The geological wonder is located directly under the lighthouse at sea-level. This fascinating natural jewel in Sardinia‘s Mediterranean basin attracts over 150,000 visitors per year.

These marine caves are located to the west of the town of Alghero and can be reached by boat or by a steep set of stairs. The scenic boat trip on the way to the caves  includes the tranquil blue bay of Porto Conte and the spectacular vertical cliffs at Capo Caccia. The cave was once a habitat for the Mediterranean Monk Seal, which has become extinct in the area.

The caves are accessible from the sea with the “Linea Grotto” boat tour that leaves the Port of Alghero every day (weather permitting). The other option is on foot via the “Escala del Cabirol” (Billy Goat Stairs). This dramatic set of about 660 steps is cut into the side of the cliff. I have personally traveled both ways and believe me,  I definitely prefer the boat trip from the harbor of Alghero!

This enchanting fairy-tale underworld sea-level cave complex was discovered by fishermen in the 18th century. Dramatic lighting enhances the magical stalactites (on the ceiling) and stalagmites.

These dramatic formations create impressive shapes that resemble organ pipes and cathedral columns.


The tour begins at the great room holding the transparent waters of the Lago Lamarmora (Lake Lamarmora). This is one of the largest saltwater lakes in all of Europe.

Admire the Acquasantiera (The Baptismal Font). This monumental stalagmite collects rain-water and serves as a vessel for birds that nest in the Capo Caccia region.

The tour moves into the Sala delle Rovine (Room of Ruins) and then proceeds to the Majestic Reggia with impressive columns.

One of the distinctive stalagmite formations is known as the Albero di Natale (Christmas Tree). You can view the Spiaggia dei Ciottolini (Pebble Beach) and then travel to the Sala Smith (Smith Room). In this room, the Grande Organo (Great Organ) has the largest column in the entire grotto. This room was named after the English captain who  was one of the first people to explore the grotto in the early 1800’s.

Beyond the “Great Organ” explore the columns that adorn the Sala delle Trine e dei Merletti (The Lace Room). The tour ends in the Tribuna della Musica (The Music Gallery) with a nice view of Lamarmora Lake

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Italy Travel Guides @

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Visit “Little Barcelona” in Vino con Vista Alghero Sardinia

The beack in Alghero, Sardinia, Italy.
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Pristine Sardinia, like Sicily, is an island that has historically been plagued by foreign invaders because of its strategic location in the Mediterranean.

English: Piazza Sulis in Alghero (Sardinia), I...

English: Piazza Sulis in Alghero (Sardinia), Italy. Italiano: Piazza Sulis ad Alghero (Sardegna), Italia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is characterized by soaring cliffs, beautiful beaches and granite coasts.

Italiano: stemma della Regione Sardegna. Engli...

Italiano: stemma della Regione Sardegna. English: coat of arms of Sardinia Region. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1861, Sardinia became part of a Unified Kingdom of ItalyVittorio Emanuele II, of the Royal House of Savoy, was the son of Charles Alberto of Sardinia and Mary Therese of the Hapsburg Empire. He was born in Turin and was the King of Sardinia from 1849-1861. He became the leader of the new monarchy when Italy unified in 1861.  He reigned until his death in 1878.  When Italy unified in 1861, Rome retained papal status and Venice was still under Austian rule for an additonal decade.

Prior to the unification in 1861, the Phoenicians, Cartheginians, Romans and Spanish invaded and influenced the customs, culture, language and cuisine of Sardinia.  To get to magical Sardinia by air, fly into the main airports in Alghero, Olbia and Cagliari. Ferries from the mainland dock at Cagliari, Olbia and Porto Torres.

Sailing From Sardinia to Sicily

Sailing From Sardinia to Sicily (Photo credit: Nouhailler)

Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediteranean and small enough to drive across in one day.  There are 1.6 million residents and 3 million sheep.  Like Sicily, this coastal paradise evolves from a mountainous center.

English: alghero (l' alguer) - old town sardin...

English: alghero (l’ alguer) – old town sardinia – Sardegna (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sea hurchin fishing in Alghero Sardinia Italia...

Sea hurchin fishing in Alghero Sardinia Italiano: Pesca del riccio di mare ad Alghero Sardegna Català: Pesca d’eriçons de mar a L’Alguer (Sardenya) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Alghero is an idyllic former Catalan Colony on the western side of Sardinia. It is called the Coral Riviera.  Alghero’s Centro Storico (old town), is protected by ancient walls.  This charming citadel has labyrinthine cobblestone streets and glorious towers.  Each year they host a car race.

Visit the 16th century Catalan Gothic Duomo in “Little Barcelona.”  The Duomo has a majolica dome and a high altar filled with beautiful statues and houses the Diosesan Museum of Sacred Art.  Climb the bell tower behind the Cathedral for beautiful views.  The restored 14th century Chiesa di San Francesco has summer concerts.  Travel about five miles to see the Necropolis of Anghelu Ruju.

The best beaches are in the north.  Arrange a boat tour from the harbor to Capo Caccia.  Then travel by boat to the Grotta di Nettuna or Grotta Verde where these cave lakes have amazing stalagmites and stalagtites.

Cheeses and sausages from Sardinia Island (Alg...

Cheeses and sausages from Sardinia Island (Alghero Public Market) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the best meals I have ever had was @ Andreini on Via Ardoino in Alghero.  Order the Tagliolini in Crosta di Pecorino.  They prepare the pasta in a flaming wheel of pecorino cheese with sage and bottarga.  Then order the the roast suckling pig.  Save room for the chocolate cake with lemon sorbet.

To learn more about Italy visit and Vino Con Vista Travel Guides can be purchased at these sites

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Alghero’s Enchanting Church of Saint Francis in Sardinia


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St. Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) adoring the C...

St. Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) adoring the Christ Child (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Alghero‘s atmospheric Old Town has some enchanting churches including the restored 14th century Chiesa di San Francesco. This church complex includes a convent and cloister that was originally built in the 1300s.

The church of Saint Francis blends Romanesque, Catalan-Gothic, late Renaissance and Baroque styles.

The tranquil two-tiered cloister is the oldest part of the complex and it is located in the heart of the main shopping district on Via Carlo Alberto. The lovely arched cloister is a venue for summer concerts.

Cloister of St. Francis

The cloister leads to the small chapel at the base of the tower. There are some interesting murals inside the portico of the cloister.

The left aisle leads to the sacristy that is decorated with antique furniture and wooden statues. The sacristy leads to the  cloister that has two tiers of round arches. The higher order of arches in the cloister were added in the 18th century. The lower level arches supported by an alternating columns and octagonal pillars were original.

The church was re-built in 1598 after a collapse in 1593. It has a beautiful vault in the presbytery with some magnificent Baroque  altars that resemble those found in St. Anthony of Padua.

The altar is dominated by statues of the Virgin Mary among the saints Francis of Assisi and Anthony of Padua in 18th century polychrome marble by the sculptor Giovanni Battista Franco.

The Altar of the Church of Saint Francis

On one of the pillars on the left has a 17th century wooden sculpture of “Christ at the Column”. It is carried in procession during Holy Week .

Christ at the Column

The sandstone facade has a portal with an architrave that is decorated with the Franciscan coat of arms surrounded by angels bearing the Franciscans of the Passion. There is a small rose window surmounted by an oculus above the ornate door.

Facade of the Church of St. Francis

There are some magnificent chapels like the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament  built in the eighteenth century Baroque style.

English: Giorgione: Madonna and Child with St ...

English: Giorgione: Madonna and Child with St Anthony of Padua and St Roch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Italy Trvel Guides @

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Alghero’s Amazing Church of San Michele in Sardinia

Dome of San Michele, Alghero/Italy.

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English: 16th century catalan city walls, Algh...

English: 16th century catalan city walls, Alghero, Sardinia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love Alghero Sardinia. There are so many interesting churches.

The church of San Michele is a Baroque church in Alghero on the northwest coral coast of Sardinia located on Via Carlo Alberto in Old Town. The Jesuit church of San Michele was built in the second half of the 17th century by the Ligurian master builder Domenico Spotorno who also worked on the Baroque rebuilding of the Cagliari and Ales cathedrals.

Facade of San Michele

The project was drawn up by the architect Domenico Spotorno. He was a native of Savona. He also designed the Cathedral of Ales and the reconstruction of the the cathedral in Cagliari .

It is dedicated to the city’s patron saint. The majestic dome is covered with colorful tiles created and designed by Antonio Simon Mossa and Filippo Figari in the mid-twentieth century. It was lovingly restored in 2007.

The Annunciation

The dome of the Church of San Michele

In 1503, this church became the cathedral pro tempore of the Diocese of Alghero while the actual cathedral was being completed, which is  the cathedral of Santa Maria.

The simple facade of the building is made of  sandstone.  Above the wooden door, wrapped in a frame of trachyte , two marble statues representing the Annunciation, and a little higher up, a relief that symbolizes the Holy Spirit.

The interior of the church has a nave with a barrel vault and it is divided by arches resting on Corinthian columns.

Altar of San Michele

Archangel Michael has a significant presence in the church. His painting dominates the The Baroque high altar with an elaborate i8th century Spanish crucifix. His large wooden statue depicts him defeating a chained Satan under his feet. You can also find Michael in the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art a few blocks away.

Michael the Archangel

One of the chapels is dedicated to Our “Lady of the Arrow” with a large painting from 1652 hanging directly over a small elaborate niche with the statue of the Virgin of Valverde. The Shrine of Our Lady of Valverde is a few miles from the city and is the site of religious pilgrimages with momumental altarpieces by Genoese artists.

Virgin of Valverde

There are many lovely chapels in the church. The chapel in the left arm of the transept is dedicated to  St. Ignatius of Loyola. In the right arm of the transept there is a chapel, dedicated to St. Francis Xavier, one of the his early companions. There is a chapel with a painting that represents a “vision” of St. Teresa of Avila. One of the chapels on the left is dedicated to Immaculate Mary with scenes from the life of Madonna.

coat of arms of Sardinia Region.

coat of arms of Sardinia Region. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Italy Travel Guides available @

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