From Plaça Civica to the discovery of the heart of the ancient burg through an itinerary weaving together history, tradition, relaxation and shopping.
From Piazza Civica, heart of the old city, you can walk among its distinctive narrow cobble-stone alleyways, to discover the different architectural styles which shapes the city on this side of the wall.
Palazzo Guillot is in Catalan style; it is on via Carlo Alberto, with its blind arcade at the ground floor and Aragonese mullions on the upper floor. Also on via Carlo Alberto – which is a long shopping area known in the Middle Ages as Carrer Mercaders (road of the merchants) and still today one of the most frequented shopping districts – can be found the splendid Chiesa di San Francesco (San Francesco Church), which dates back to the XIV century. Partially rebuilt after collapsing, it combines typical signs of Catalan Gothic and the Italian Renaissance style; it is impossible not to be intrigued by the wonderful cloister and bell tower. Also on the same road, the church dedicated to the Patron Saint of the city San Michele, whose colourful cupola looms imposingly off in the distance. Not far from there is the Chiesa della Misericordia, which was built in the XVII century in order to house the precious Santcristus, a wooden likeness brought over from Spain. Over time it has become the symbol of the Holy Week during which popular worship culminates with the heartfelt participation by the whole community in the traditional processions. Facing the bastion promenade opposite Torre di San Giacomo the eighteenth-century Chiesa di Carmelo (Carmelo Church) with its distinctive bell gable and vestibule, once situated next to a Carmelite convent which has now been transformed into a private residence. A must-see if you want to understand the spirituality of this place is the Madonna del Rosario, an ancient patrician’s house later transformed into a church; since 2000 it has housed the Museo Diocesano d’Arte Sacra (Museum of Diocesan Sacred Art), where valuable paintings, silver objects, marble and images are on display from all over the diocese. Adjacent to the former church “del Rosario’ is situated Cattedrale di Santa Maria (Cathedral of Santa Maria), whose construction was begun in 1567 on the site of a church named after the “Vergine’. One of the most visibly emblematic signs of architectonic identity of the old city is certainly the rear entrance of the cathedral with its wonderful Late Gothic styled decorations of the main door overlooked by the sober elegance of the Catalan Gothic style of the bell tower, which is open to visitors during the summer months. More signs of the Catalan Gothic can be found in via Sant’Erasmo, a typical street that opens up opposite the main entrance of the cathedral and where the distinctive °portal adovellat’ of Palazzo Carcassona (Carcassona Palace) is located, with its three Gothic Catalan pointed arch mullions on the upper floor.
The splendid decorations of the Palazzo Machin (Machin Palace) located in via Principle Umberto are surprising in the harmony they create between the Catalan Gothic and Renaissance motifs.
When in 1720 the city passed over to the Kingdom of Savoy, new lines and styles accompanied (sometimes were superimposed over) the Catalan Aragonese style. Instances of Baroque and Rococo, together with neoclassical motifs typical of the Savoyan architecture, come together harmoniously in Palazzo Serra (Serra Palace) which faces the road that leads from Piazza Civica to the Cathedral. Neoclassical forms are present in many buildings, public and private alike, such as Palazzo Lavagna (Lavagna Place) and Palazzo Civico (Civic Palace), Teatro Civico (Civic Theatre) in the square of the same name, Palazzo Balata (Balato Palace) and Palazzo Simon (Simon Palace), in which remnants of a Late Gothic door are still visible.
Shopping for all tastes and budgets. In the streets of the old city, the most exclusive shopping district, you can find anything and everything, from the most internationally prestigious name brands, Italian Prêt-à-porter, to the most well-known franchise brands, as well as exclusive Alghero coral jewellery made by Sardinian craftsmen.
To satisfy your palate, there is no lack of local shops where you can purchase authentic local specialties from our local cuisine.
Just outside the ancient walls, the colours of other histories await us. The histories of the Lungomare Dante and Valencia, where are located the strong contrasts of colour in the Liberty Style Villas that were built there between the end of the 1800’s and 1900’s. Among the most particular octagonal Villa Mosca and Villa Conte Sant’Elia in which were often lodged the reigning House of Savoy.
At the feet of the buildings are the small, the small rest areas allow for moments of relaxation in the sun right in the middle of the centre of town.