alghero città
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The fortified city of Alghero (l’Alguer in Catalan language), located on the north-western coast of Sardinia, takes its name from the sea that gave life to it. It appears that the name comes from the deposits of Posidonia oceanica, leaves, erroneously referred to as “alghe”, that are ubiquitous along the sandy coastline, particularly after storms at sea caused by the libeccio, or south-westerly wind. The historical center of Alghero -its stunning architecture and evocative cityscape stretching out towards the sea- is a resplendent jewel in the Sardinian crown. All over Alghero there are testaments to the centuries-old process of cultural development that has made the city what it is today. The city’s evolution is inextricably linked with the political, social and economic events of Sardinia as a whole..

Alghero was founded by the Doria, a Genoese family, in the 12th century. The family wanted to use the small peninsula of what was to become Alghero as a strategic landing place at the epicenter of the Western Mediterranean. The city was conquered by the Pisans in 1284, and then by the Catalan Aragonese, who entered the fortified city on the 31st of August 1353. In 1354, the city was repopulated by peoples from several different Catalan areas, and since then, Alghero has retained the language and traditions of the Catalans, engaging in frequent, far-reaching cultural exchanges with the Iberian Peninsula. Thanks to its coastal nature, its rich history and its welcoming people, Alghero has been a tourist destination since the end of the 19th century, and, even today, the traditions of hospitality and potential for the expansion of tourism it offers are unrivalled anywhere else in Sardinia.

Walls and bastions of Alghero

torre dell'espero alghero
bastioni e torri alghero

The monuments and churches of the historical center -with town houses, towers and bastions looming over narrow, cobbled streets- and the thrusting bell towers of St. Mary’s Cathedral all preserve the clear imprint of the Catalan Gothic style. Indeed, Alghero is often referred to affectionately by the Catalans as ‘Barceloneta’.

One of the few Italian cities that have preserved their walls and towers intact. Today its bastions, dedicated to great explorers – Columbus, Pigafetta, Magellan and Marco Polo, have become an interesting walk. Alghero was built between 1102 and 1112 by the Doria family, and its first fortifications were raised a few decades later. By late 13th century, it was increased, while during the Aragonese domination no substantial modification was made to the city, and it preserved its Genovese plant with 26 towers. Thus it was until the 16th century, when the walls were rebuilt: the sea-facing part was completed, but the land-facing part was not. In 1867 Alghero was excluded from the list of strategic cities, and the dismantling began. But everything (or almost) that once was has resisted and can still be seen: the seaward walls and eight 16th-century city towers (plus 11 along the coast).

The surroundings of Alghero

nuraghe palmavera alghero
parco porto conte alghero

The coastline that surrounds the city extends for almost 80km, passing through a range of picturesque environments that encompass everything from stunning rock formations to the most fine-grained sand imaginable.

To the north, immediately after the new tourist port, lies the 6km sandy stretch that is Sant Joan beach, with its contrasting make up of natural dunes and rich arboreal vegetation in the form of pine and juniper trees.

The most northerly part of this sandy coastline is delineated by the Càlic estuary, a natural habitat of great importance since it contains a wealth of flora and fauna. On the other side of the outlet there is the modern suburb of Fertilia, notable for its rationalist architecture and populated by a community of settlers from the north-east of Italy. In the center of the famous ‘Coral Riviera’, the artisan traditions of Alghero continue to flourish, with precious red coral still crafted, as always, in the time-honored workshops of the old town. The coral, once highly prized in its own right and to be found everywhere in this area, is in fact the emblem of Alghero and takes pride of place in the city’s 14th century coat-of-arms.

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