7 Beautiful Churches In Cagliari

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Cagliari, the lovely capital of Sardinia, is quite the perfect city. A great base to explore the rest of the island, it’s an incredible weekend getaway destination, with beautiful archeological sites; well curated museums; and lots and lots of nice churches for the artist lovers. Churches in Cagliari date back to various periods of time, and have been built in a variety of styles. Most of them are located in the historic center of town, but some are just outside and are well worth the trip to get there. 

If you are keen on discovering the nicest churches in Cagliari, you are in the right place. I have selected the ones you should not miss and each of them has something special – whether it’s the history, some art in them, or some special celebrations that you may be able to attend. 

Curious to know more? Continue reading!

Churches in Cagliari
The beautiful facade of Santa Maria Cathedral in Cagliari

The Most Beautiful Churches In Cagliari

All churches in Cagliari are free to visit and usually open to the public, and you can go there on your own- but you may feel the need of some guidance to make the most of them. Guided tours don’t generally target churches only, but all of the ones I mention below will go to one or more of the churches mentioned in this posts:

Cattedrale di Santa Maria

Cagliari’s cathedral must be the first one to be mentioned. Located in the heart of Castello historic quarter, it was built in the 13th century in Gothic style – though very little remains of the original church (just the base of the bell tower!). The facade, in pisan-romanesque style, is actually a historic-fake as it was added to the church between 1933 and 1938. Inside, the church is decorated in baroque style due to renovation works that took place in the 17th century. 

Make sure to visit the crypt (Aula Capitolare) where you can see the tombs of the Savoy that have reigned over the island, and some beautiful frescoes. And for incredible views of the city, for just €3 you can walk up the bell tower.

Chiesa di Sant’Anna

In Piazza Restituta (Restituta Square) this church was severely damaged during the bombings of WWII and entirely rebuilt afterwards. The church is in baroque style but the columns are in ionic style. 

churches in Sardinia
The Church of San Michele is a must-see in Cagliari

Chiesa di San Michele

Located in Via Ospedale, in the heart of the historic district of Stampace, San Michele church dates back to 1538, and is one of the most beautiful in town. It is mostly decorated in rococo style. The facade has three baroque arches and a large porch, from where you can access the interior which is in a weird octagonal plant. The central nave is surrounded by six beautifully decorated chapels. The sacristy has some well kept frescoes.

Sant'Efisio church
Sant’Efisio church as seen from Castello

Chiesa di Sant’Efisio

Although the facade of this church will not mean much to you, this is one of the most important churches in Cagliari as it’s where the Sant’Efisio Parade has been departing from every May 1 since 1647, and where the statue of the saint is taken back after having spend four days in Nora, at 50 km from Cagliari.

The church is obviously dedicated to Efisio, a soldier of the Roman Empire who was condemned to decapitation after becoming Christian and refusing to deny his faith. He is the saint protector of the island of Sardinia, celebrated for having brought an end to the plague in the 17th century. During the celebrations of May 1, his statue is paraded along the streets of Cagliari (and all the way to Nora) by an oxen-pulled cart that is beautifully decorated, and accompanied by representatives of a selection of villages of Sardinia dressed in traditional costumes. 

To find out more, check out my posts A Quick Guide To Sant’Efisio Festival and The Best Events And Festivals In Sardinia.

churches in Cagliari
Bonaria is one of the most famous churches in Cagliari

Santuario e Basilica di Bonaria

Another locals’ favorite and a splendid spot for wedding celebrations, the Basilica di Bonaria and the adjacent sanctuary are a pilgrimage site for anyone venerating the Virgin Mary, whose wooden statue is guarded in a small niche behind the altar. 

According to legend, the Virgin Mary saved the crew of a Spanish ship from sinking during a storm in the 14th century. The sanctuary  was built in the 14the century and used to be part of a larger complex built by the Catalan-Aragonese rulers in 1323. The construction of the church was officially ended in 1926.

You will love the staircase that leads to the church from Viale Diaz.

INTERESTING FACT: The Spanish name of the church would be Nuestra Senora de los Buenos Aires – yes, like the city in Argentina.

Make sure to also visit the annexed cemetery – it’s gorgeous!

San Saturnino
San Saturnino church

Basilica di San Saturnino

Located in Piazza San Saturnino, between the lower Villanova historic district and the central Via Dante, this is probably my favorite church in town! This is one of the oldest churches in Sardinia, an incredible example of paleo-christian architecture. It has a Greek-Orthodox plan; although the basilica was actually built over a roman necropolis from the 5th century – right in the spot were it was thought that Saturnino – martyr and saint protector of Cagliari – was buried. Excavations to uncover the necropolis are ongoing. 

Throughout the centuries the church was modified several times – the most thorough renovations took place in the 17th century after San Saturnino Basilica was literally stripped down of materials that were used to renovate the Cathedral. The church fell again during WWII bombing. 

FUN FACT: Surrounding the church there is a small park with a small cat sanctuary, and not far from it one of Cagliari’s cat cafes.

Chiesa di San Lucifero

Last but not least, you may want to visit San Lucifero church, a baroque style church whose most notable sight is the 6th century crypt where Saint Lucifer, archbishop of Cagliari, was buried. Unfortunately the church is often closed to the public.

Have you been to Cagliari? Which are your favorite churches in Cagliari?

Further readings

You may want to read my post The Most Beautiful Churches in Sardinia. If you are traveling to Cagliari, these posts will come in handy:

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Discover the nicest churches in Cagliari - via @c_tavani

2 thoughts on “7 Beautiful Churches In Cagliari”

  1. Claudia: I felt lucky in finding your wonderful website. Because of the pandemic it will be quite a while before my wife and I can take a trip to Sardinia, because of travel restrictions world-wide, but we are in the initial stages of investigating a possible week-to-ten-day trip sometime in the next two years. We have two other trips we plan to take before a Sardinia trip, both of which which were cancelled for last year and early this year. We are an active 77 and 70-year-old couple and prefer private tours, just the two of us, with qualified driver-guides, and Sardinia is certainly a place where we would want those kind of travel services. Our emphasis would be archaeology, churches, history, bird life, nature, scenery, etc. We usually take hundreds of pictures, though not with professional equipment. Do you do private guiding, including making all local travel arrangements, or can recommend someone you trust who does? Ben Gooden in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA

  2. Hi Ben! I actually don’t provide tour leading and guiding services. I can certainly draft an itinerary for you, for a nominal fee, and recommend a driver – though to be fair Sardinia is the perfect place for a road trip and you may wish to rent a car! If this of interest, definitely get in touch via email and I will be glad to help. And I’d love to meet you when you visit 🙂

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