Visiting Alghero means discovering a real "corner of Catalonia" in Sardinia. The Catalan influence is evident in many aspects, from the language and architecture tto the food and wine.
To discover all this, just stroll through the narrow alleys of its historic centre. Along these streets, you will come across marvellous historical buildings, which are particularly imposing in the central Piazza Civica. This is considered the city's "reception room", where you can admire, among others, Palazzo Bolasco, once owned by Giuseppe Garibaldi's family, and Casa De Ferrera – today Palazzo D'Albis – which hosted Emperor Charles V in 1541. Of Alghero, he had this to say: "Bonita, por mi fé, y bien assentada", which means "Beautiful, in my faith, and well-built".
There are also numerous, fascinating churches . Among the most interesting religious buildings are the Cathedral of Santa Maria, dating back to the 16th century, the Church of Carmelo with its large gilded altarpiece, and the church dedicated to San Michele, the city's patron saint, with its characteristic dome covered in coloured majolica tiles. Tt the very centre of the maze of streets that form the historic centre of Alghero is the Cloister of San Francesco and its adjacent Church which is also worthy of a special mention. The tourist guides speak of it as one of the greatest examples of Catalan-Gothic architecture in Sardinia, albeit with subsequent classical architectural influences.
The historical centre of Alghero has another special feature. It is surrounded by ancient ramparts that are still in excellent condition and from which one can admire, along the promenade that embraces the city, the splendid panorama of the entire Riviera del Corallo.
Furthermore, Alghero is one of the few centres in Italy to have preserved allmost all its walls and towers almost intact. The most beautiful are that of Porta Terra, originally called Porta Rejal and the entrance to the city arriving from Sassari, the tower of San Giovanni and that of Sulis.
Other towers in the old town worth seeing are those of San Giacomo, the Polveriera, Sant'Elmo, which is one of the city's most scenic points, the Garitta Reale, a guard outpost at the end of the Marco Polo ramparts, and the Maddalena tower, which still retains protruding drains used to throw oil and boiling water over enemies.
The centre's historical buildings also house DADU, the Department of Architecture, Design and Urban Planning of the University of Sassari, and MUSA, Alghero's Archaeological Museum. This has collections and artefacts dating back to the earliest human settlements in the area, from the Neolithic to the Middle Ages, discovered during excavations in the city and outside the city centre.