The name Alghero comes from the medieval Latin Aleguerium, meaning stagnation of algae (Posidonia oceanica, actually a seagrass) on the coast.The Catalan language is co-official in the city, unique in Italy.
Alghero is one of the oldest and most well known and fascinating places in Sardinia, situated on the north-west coast. With its wonderful beaches and their emerald water, it is a real pearl on the Mediterranean Sea. It is also famous for its red coral and silver filigree jewelry.
Alghero had been the set of a great number of battles between various dominators for its occupation. The most important ones were Dorians and Catalans. The first ones created Alghero by building a port and a fortress on the sea sheltered by Capo Caccia; Catalans occupied the town for over four hundred years. They gave Alghero a distinctive Spanish feel that still lasts today, especially in the old town’s architecture (so much so that in the past it was called Barceloneta, that means “little Barcelona”), and in the locally spoken dialect – people still speak Catalan, and the name of the streets are written both in Italian, and in Catalan.
Due to its strategic position in the Mediterranean Sea, Alghero was built around a fortified port, founded around 1102 by the Genoese Doria family. The Doria ruled it for centuries, apart from a brief period under the rule of Pisa (1283–84). In 1353 it was captured by the forces of the Crown of Aragon under Bernardo de Cabrera; in 1372, following several revolts, the indigenous Sardinian and Genoese population was expelled, and Alghero could later grow in number because of 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.
In the XX century the bay of Porto Conte accommodated seaplanes: Alghero became an aeroportual and touristic town. From then on, thanks to the spreading of package holidays and the construction of great hotels and restaurants, lots of visitors come to Alghero from all over the world in order to spend their holidays, especially in summer.
Places to visit
Alghero has lots of interesting places to visit. First of all, the historic centre with its bastion walls, the ancient Catalan fortress facing out onto the sea, the towers (which have historical names: Sulis, San Giovanni, dello Sperone), and the cobbled streets and little piazzas (squares). Walking through the historic centre you can admire the Cathedral of Santa Maria (a mix of Baroque and Gothic Catalan style), the church of San Francesco (here, on Sunday, the mass is still celebrated in Catalan), the church of San Michele (with its wonderful brightly coloured dome). Leaving the town to the seafront, you can admire beautiful villas and ancient houses built in the early XX century, such as Villa Las Tronas, and Villa Mosca.
If you like to visit archeological sites, we suggest the Nuraghe Palmavera (a whole nuragic village, nearby Porto Conte, which still preserves the characteristic features of an organized community), the Nuraghe Appiu (a nuraghe with a giants’ tomb swathed in the silent planes of Villanova Monteleone, a little town near Alghero), the Angelu Ruju and Santu Pedru necropolises (aggregation of hypogeal tombs, called “Domus de Janas”). If you want to swath in greenery, go and visit the Porto Conte Park, between Calich and the Baratz Lake: it is divided into four environmental areas, where you can admire the “Cavallini della Giara” (Giara’s ponies), wild donkeys and bucks. Another natural attraction is Neptune’s Cave, with the underground Lamarmora lake.
Visit the Alghero Turismo website.