The town of Alghero is situated on the Mediterranean coast of north-west Sardinia. A popular coastal resort, Alghero also has a good number of interesting historical monuments and plenty of cafes and shops to distract you.
We focus on the historical monuments in this guide, but much of the pleasure of a visit to Alghero comes from simply strolling the narrow streets of the historic center. Unfortunately I am not well suited to describing shopping experiences!
An itinerary for your visit to the town could start from Dante's and Cristopher Colombus waterfront, along which there are a series of fortified bastions that lead to the port.
Not far from the staircase that leads to the ancient "Porta a Mare" is the imposing structure of the Fort La Magdalena, a major Spanish-era fort.
In the heart of the town is Alghero Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Mary and built in the 14th century it assumed its current appearance around the middle of 16th century.
The architectural style of the cathedral is Catalan-inspired late Gothic and the structure is surmounted by an octagonal Bell Tower from the same period.
The Church of San Francesco is certainly the most significant Catalan monument in all of Sardinia - it was built at the end of the 14th century and then re-built partly due to a collapse in the early 17th century, hence shows different building styles.
Other churches of interest in Alghero include the 17th century Church del Carmine with its wooden baroque altars, the Church of the Rosary of ancient Romanic foundation and today home to the Diocesan Museum of sacred art, and the churches of San Michele and Mercy dating back to the 17th century.
One feature unique to Alghero is the Aragonian Palaces, such as the “Casa de Ferrera”, which in 1541 gave hospitality to Emperor Charles V (1500-1558), the “Casa Doria” and “Palazzo Peretti”, of Catalan-Gothic style.
The Town Hall was built later, around the first half of the 19th century, and is characterized by the size and elegance of the neoclassical shapes. Another example of the same style can be seen at the “Palazzo Lavagna”, built in 1873, and the “Villa Sant'Elia”, built outside the town between the 19th and 20th century and incorporating the model of the medieval castle.The Civic Theatre, built in the second half of the 19th century, is also in neoclassical style.
Attractions close to Alghero
Alghero also offers important archaeological and cultural opportunities to the historically interested visitor. These include:
- the Nuragic complex of Palmavera, consisting of a central body with two towers and a village of huts built up in stages;
- the complex of Sant'Imbenia, consisting of a nuraghe and a village of huts;
- the Anghelu Ruju necropolis, dating back to the Neolithic period but used up to the Bronze and Copper Ages, consisting of about 40 “domus de janas”, or tombs excavated in the rock, and characterized by the use of red ochre.
Nature lovers on a visit to Alghero will want to take a trip to the marine protected Capo Caccia - Isola Piana, the waters of which overlook the spectacular rocky spur of Capo Caccia, a paradise of underwater caves.
Among others these include the Caves of Neptune, impressive by the presence of stalactites and stalagmites, and reached either by sea or via the many steps of the “Escala del Cabirol”.
Among the traditions that have made Alghero an important tourism destinations are the local cuisine, among which the lobster cooked in "Catalan style" according to an ancient recipe is particularly special.
Other tempting local dishes include the "suckling pig" and lamb - always accompanied by a good wine produced by local wineries.
See also history of Alghero
Selected places to visit near Alghero
Castelsardo 53 km
See the Sardinia guide for more travel ideas...
Map of Alghero & places nearby