Alghero (l'Alguer in Catalan and S'Alighèra in Sardinian), is a town of about 42,000 inhabitants (down from 54,300 inhabitants since early 20th century) in Italy. It lies in the province of Sassari in north-western Sardinia.
The area of today's Alghero was settled since pre-historical times. The so-called Ozieri culture was present here in the 4th millennium BCE while the nuraghe civilization was present from around 1500 BC for, and traces of Phoenician buildings have been found not far from the city.
Alghero was founded around 1102 by the Genoese Doria family, as a fortified port. The Doria ruled it for centuries, apart from a brief period under the rule of Pisa (1283-1284). In 1353 it was captured by the Aragonese under Bernardo de Cabrera, and could later grow thanks to the arrival of Catalan colonists: in the early 16th century Alghero received the status of King's City (ciutat de l'Alguer) and developed economically.
The Catalano-Aragonese were followed by Habsburg Spain, whose dominion, ended in 1702, brought some decadence to the city. In 1720 Alghero and Sardinia were handed over to Piedmont. Around 1750 a wide channel was excavated to improve the defensive stand of the peninsula. In 1821 famine led to a revolt of the population, which was bloodily suppressed. At the end of the same century Alghero was de-militarized and, during the Fascist era, part of the surrounding marshes was reclaimed and the suburbs of Fertilia and S.M. La Palma were founded, although the presence of malaria in the countryside could be overcome only in the 1950s. During World War II (1943) Alghero was bombed, its historical center suffering heavy damage.
After the end of the war Alghero became a popular tourist resort.
A minority of people in Alghero speak a Catalan
dialect, introduced when Catalan invaders repopulated the town after expelling the autochthonous Sardinian
population in 1372. Catalan was replaced as the official language by Spanish
in the seventeenth century, then by Italian
. The most recent linguistic research conducted showed that 22.4% of the population speak Algherese Catalan
as a first language and around 90% have some understanding of the language.
- Palazzo Carcassona.
- The Cathedral of St. Mary. Begun in 1570, it was opened in 1593 but finished and consecrated only in 1730. The church original was is in Catalan-Gothic style, as it can be seen in the five chapels of the presbytery, which also include the base of the bell tower. The nave and the two aisles are instead in Late Renaissance style. In the 20th century a Neo-Classicist narthex was added to the façade, changing abruptly its appearance.
- The church of St. Francis (1360, rebuilt in the late 16th century). Original Catalan-Gothic parts can be seen over the high altar, the presbytery chapels and the SS. Sacramento Chapel. The bell tower is from the first half of the 16th century.
- The church of St. Michael.
- The Madonna del Santo Rosario.
- The Torre del Portal, built at the expenses the Jewish Community of Alghero in 1360, and the Tower dell'Esperò Reial (16th century).
- Palazzo D'Albis (16th century), a typical example of Catalan-Aragonese architecture of the 16th century. In the October 1541 it housed the Emperor Charles V.
- Neptune's Grotto
Some 100 Nuraghe remains can be seen in the neighbouring areas of Sant'Imbenia (including also a Phoenician necropolis and Roman remains near the airport of Alghero), Palmavera and Anghelu Ruju.