Visiting Alghero Old Town represents a journey into the origins of the city. A walk through alleys, little squares and old buildings that have made the history of the Catalan city in Northern Sardinia.
The different architectural styles span the main eras of its foundation. Starting from the Genoese origins (1100), continuing with the Savoy domination (1720) up to the era that most marked the culture of Alghero: that of the Spanish domination (1354).
The walk in the historic center of Alghero is a fundamental step not only for the suggestion of its cobbled streets and old walls, but also for the traditional Botteghe, shops, bars and restaurants that animate the heart of the ancient town.
Some of Alghero’s best restaurants and craft shops are located right inside these narrow alleys. Their typical space consisting of small rooms with barrel vaults in exposed sandstone, represent the identity of the town.
We begin our tour in the Alguer Vella, starting from the Torre di Porta Terra as the starting point, considered the ancient gateway to the city.
The walk then continues through the main streets: Via Roma, Via Gilbert Ferret, Via Carlo Alberto, Via Cavour. The ancient churches scattered among the narrow streets among which the Cathedral of Santa Maria, the church of San Francesco and the ancient church of San Michele stand out, whose dome covered with majolica is the symbol of the city.
If you have little time and want to focus on the fundamental points of the old town, follow our tips to discover the most interesting corners of Alghero.
5 Things not to miss in Alghero old town
1.The Cathedral and the Bell Tower of Santa Maria
Begun in 1500, it was completed in its present state only in the mid-1800s. The succession of centuries reflects into the church outlook with building styles and technics different along the construction era. The oldest part is the Gothic-Catalan, while the facade presents the typically neoclassical style.
One of the symbols of the city is the bell tower of Santa Maria. You can reach the top of the tower through five levels connected by a narrow spiral staircase. The bell tower is over 40 meters high and from here you can admire a splendid panorama of the roofs of the old town houses.
2. Church of San Francesco
The oldest church in the historic center of Alghero with the adjoining convent dating back to 1400. This is an example of the Gothic-Catalan style featuring several works in marble and wood, as well as paintings of absolute value. The cloister and the hexagonal bell tower are also worth visiting. The bell tower was built in 1600 entirely in sandstone. Through a trap door you get to the bells room from which you can admire a beautiful view of the city.
3. Tower of Sant’Elmo
This is one of the most panoramic points of the historic center. From here you can admire the wide bay of Alghero, the port and the promontory of Capo Caccia. This tower located in the last stretch of the ramparts is dedicated to the saint navigator Sant’Erasmo (Sant’Elmo in Catalan) whose history is linked over the centuries to the city of Alghero. It is said that the Saint found his home in the cliffs of Capo Caccia. It can be accessed via a small stone staircase that leads to the circular base where you can rest to admire the beautiful landscape.
4. Piazza Civica
Piazza Civica is considered the posh side of the Old Town. The square is surrounded by stately and elegant buildings combined with small craft and coral shops that overlook the main street. The square still remains the beating heart of the old city.
Among the most important buildings that overlook Piazza Civica, the Palazzo D’Albis in gothic style, dating back to the fifteenth century. This building became famous because in 1541 hosted Charles V and from whom he pronounced the famous phrase: Bonita, por mi fé, y bien assentada – Beautiful, in my faith, and very solid “ referred to Alghero.
Other examples of historical architecture: Palazzo Serra dating back to 1800 and Palazzo Bolasco which was owned by the family of Giuseppe Garibaldi. On the square opens the Porta de la Mar which protected the entrance of the city from the sea storms.
5. Archaeological museum (MUSA)
A new museum recently opened in town that contains important evidence of the past of Alghero and the surrounding area. The Archaeological Museum of Alghero (MUSA) is really worth a visit to get to know some very special aspects of the city and its surrounding area.
Different rooms host remains from the Nuragic villages of Sant’Imbenia and Palmavera, from the Domus de Janas of Anghelu Ruju and Santu Pedru. It is also possible to admire the finds found at sea in the Green Grotto, the Roman wreck of Mariposa and the medieval wreck of Capo Galera.
Opening hours: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday from 17.00 to 19.30
Wednesday: from 10.30 to 12.30. Saturday and Sunday from 10.30 to 12.30 and from 17.00 to 19.30. Monday closed.
Ticket price: € 5.00 full – € 4.00 reduced
By purchasing the multiple ticket it is also possible to access the other museums in the city, among which we recommend the one dedicated to a very important historical figure for Alghero the historian-politician: Giuseppe Manno. The Casa Manno museum is set in his house from 1786. Many works of art and relics from the past of this illustrious man who made a “career” starting from Alghero, becoming President of the Senate of the Kingdom of Sardinia and later of the Kingdom of Italy.
Opening hours: Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 16.00 to 20.00
Ticket price: € 5.00 – € 3.00 reduced
Alghero old town deserves more than a quick visit. While observing the palaces and churches you can stop in one of the many places to taste the typical cuisine of Alghero and visit the coral workshops, another very important symbol of the Catalan city.
Where to stay in Alghero Old Town
Palau de Rosa: located in the elegant Via Carlo Alberto, one of the main streets of the historic center of Alghero. Perfect location to experience the old city between shops and bars.
Ottocento Guesthouse: elegant and modern accommodation in a excellent location near the Cathedral of Santa Maria.
B&B Vecchia Alghero: in the central Via Gilbert Ferret, the b&b offers clean and welcoming rooms. Includes breakfast and snacks during your stay.
On the map you will find many other accommodations with rates updated in real time.