There are some truly gorgeous churches in Sardinia.
While St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome is one of the most lavish and monumental churches in the world, Italy is home to many more astounding churches, especially on the Italian island of Sardinia! There is a staggering amount of churches in Sardinia that are bursting with religious significance, captivating history, and tremendous beauty.
If you’re visiting Sardinia, a trip isn’t complete without basking in the impressive architecture and art at the bevy of churches on the island.
As a local, I’m ready to—metaphorically—take your hand and walk you through all the brightest and best churches in Sardinia. Whether you’re religious or not, when in Sardinia, one thing you have to do is go to church. Light a candle, walk up the steps, and marvel at the artistic masterpieces inside and outside!
Continue reading this post to discover the most beautiful churches in Sardinia.
26 Churches In Sardinia Worth Visiting
The Basilica of Our Lady of Bonaria in Cagliari
The Basilica of Our Lady of Bonaria also goes by the name Our Lady of the Fair Winds, as the Virgin Mary is the patron of sailboats. Situated in the Sardinian capital city of Cagliari, the Basilica of Our Lady of Bonaria has a large complex of buildings, including an impressive shrine, sanctuary, ten chapels, and a monastery. It has been active since 1335, while the first stone of the Basilica was laid in 1704.
The Basilica of Our Lady of Bonaria is Sardinia’s most famous Catholic sanctuary. Perched atop a hill in Cagliari, the church overlooks the sea and the marina. Visiting the Basilica of Our Lady of Bonaria is an opportunity to revel in grandeur as you admire the incredible statues, reliefs, and paintings adorning the walls. The convent is home to a museum with three rooms housing precious relics – everything from golden crowns to model ships. It’s definitely one of the churches in Sardinia you should visit!
Cathedral of Santa Maria di Castello in Cagliari
The Cathedral of Santa Maria di Castello in Cagliari is often referred to simply as the Cathedral of Cagliari. It’s one of the most beautiful churches in Sardinia. Constructed in the 13th century and renovated many times throughout the centuries, the Cathedral of Santa Maria di Castello in Cagliari is enormous. When you fly into the capital, your eye will immediately be drawn to this immense cathedral: it is 35 meters long, 32 meters tall, and 34 meters wide— it’s almost a giant cube!
The current appearance of the Cathedral of Santa Maria di Castello displays the many Catalan-Aragonese renovations; however, there is a baroque marble facade that originated back in 1704, although a Neo-Romanesque marble facade replaced much of it in 1931.
While the Cathedral of Santa Maria di Castello holds many curiosities, including a majestically painted ceiling, my favorite aspect of this cathedral is what lies beneath it – the Sanctuary of the Martyrs.
You should also make sure to climb the tower – it only costs €3 and the views from the top are splendid.
Church of San Michele in Cagliari
One of the most unique churches in Sardinia is located in the heart of Cagliari. The Church of San Michele, located in the district of Stampace, is the Jesuit seat in Cagliari .There are a total of three buildings comprising the Church of San Michele – the convent, the atrium, and a vestibule. It has been active since 1848 and was built towards the end of the 17th century and consecrated in 1738.
The architecture, paintings, and sculptures inside the Church of San Michele make it a significant site of Baroque art in Cagliari. Moreover, the walls are decorated with detailed friezes, stuccos, and frescoes. You’ll also love seeing the unique design work of multi-colored marble inside.
Church of Sant’Efisio in Cagliari
The Church of Sant’Efisio in Cagliari lies near the aforementioned Church of San Michele. They are both in the same district of Stampace. From the outside, you might assume the Church of Sant’Efisio is a humdrum, diminutive church, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth! While this church doesn’t have artistic or architectural reasons to visit, it has incredible historic significance to rest its laurels on. This is definitely one of the must-visit churches in Sardinia.
Saint Ephisius – or Sant’Efisio – is the patron saint of Cagliari. He’s one of Cagliari’s big stars and is celebrated each year with a giant festival on May 1st. To read more about the Festival of Sant’Efisio, check out my other post by clicking here.
Sant’Efisio is also credited with saving the people of Cagliari from the plague in 1652 and keeping Napoleon’s fleet away in 1793 by creating a storm. Bravo, Sant’Efisio!
Basilica di San Saturnino in Cagliari
The Basilica of San Saturnino is a Paleo-Christian church in Cagliari. It was likely built as a burial place for St. Saturninus, a martyr from the year 304 who refused to offer sacrifices to the pagan god Jupiter and also refused to deny his Christian faith.
While the first mentions of the church are from the beginning of the 6th century, the Basilica di San Saturnino was consecrated in 1119. It is by far the oldest church in the Sardinian capital city of Cagliari, and one of the oldest churches in Sardinia. It is an impressive and imposing complex that includes a monastery. There is also an ancient necropolis which is still being excavated to this day!
Laid out in the form of a Greek cross, the Basilica of San Saturnino has four arms, which all extend outward in equal length. The central body is capped with a dome.
Make sure to head over to the Villanova district in Cagliari to see the Basilica di San Saturnino, the oldest Paleo-Christian monument on the island.
Sant’Antonio Abate Cathedral in Castelsardo
The Castelsardo Sant’Antonio Abate Cathedral lies in the northern area of Sardinia in a town called Castelsardo. The current cathedral was erected in 1597; however, it was standing for much longer than that – no one actually knows how long – but it definitely is one of the oldest churches in Sardinia! Facing the sea, it is designed in a Latin cross plan with a single, long nave complete with barrel vaults and a distinctive side chapel. My favorite part of Sant’Antonio Abate Cathedral is its colossal bell tower.
Perched on the rocky cliffside of Castelsardo, visiting this cathedral, dedicated to Saint Anthony the Great, is a moving experience.
For 4 euros, you can visit the crypt and view the striking paintings there! Expect to walk up quite a few stairs from the parking lot to reach the cathedral— wear comfortable shoes!
Church of Santissima Trinità in Saccargia
The Church of Santissima Trinità of Saccargia is a sight to behold, and by far one of the most beautiful churches in Sardinia. Constructed of striped white limestone and black basalt, this Roman-Pisan church is unlike any other. Located on the northwestern part of Sardinia, the Church of Santissima Trinità has stood tall and proud over the Sardinian countryside since the early 12th century. The plain on which the church stands used to be the site of pagan rituals and gatherings since prehistoric times.
The basilica is 20 meters long and 14 meters tall and was constructed in a Tau cross shape. Inside the Church of Santissima Trinità, you can appreciate megalithic frescoes that depict many key saints, angels, and scenes of Christ’s life.
Church of Sant’Efisio in Nora
The Church of Sant’Efisio is found just outside the center of Pula on the shoreline. It is a short distance from the ancient ruins and archeological park of Nora. This is one of the most visited churches in Sardinia, thanks to its connection with Sant’Efisio festival.
If you happen to be in Sardinia at the beginning of May, the Church of Sant’Efisio in Nora is home to a fantastic festival and feast that takes place from May 1 to May 4. In fact, every year since 1652, a bright, lively, and colorful procession carries the statue of Sant’Efisio from Cagliari all the way to Nora— an 80-kilometer journey on foot!
Small and Roman in design, the Church of Sant’Efisio in Nora is humble compared to some of the other churches in Sardinia on this list. However, that doesn’t mean you should skip it! Make sure to tack it to your Nora itinerary and enjoy a long stroll along the beach after visiting the church.
Church of San Francesco in Alghero
The Church of San Francesco was built in the 14th century; unfortunately, it collapsed and had to be rebuilt during the Renaissance era.
You’ll have to pay a €4 euro entrance fee to visit the different parts of this church. There are even guided tours that will walk you all the way up the triangular bell tower, where you’ll be able to admire the gorgeous Alghero landscape. Alghero is a city on the very northwest coast of Sardinia encompassed by ancient stone walls, with a charming cobblestoned historic city center. The Church of San Francesco is one of the top sites in the Alghero to visit during your stay.
Keep in mind that the Church of San Francesco has limited hours when it’s open for guided tours, so make sure to check the times in advance.
Cathedral of San Nicola in Sassari
The Cathedral of San Nicola in Sassari is one of the most important churches in Sardinia. Sassari is the second-largest city on the island and lies to the northwest.
Nestled right at the heart of Sassari, directly in the town center, the Cathedral of San Nicola can be seen as a kind of nucleus, from which the town expands.
The Cathedral of San Nicola is a highly ornate church with a gothic facade, classical decor, and gothic vaults. While the first documented mention of this church is from 1135, the cathedral was reconstructed during the 13th century, and again in the 15th century. Today, the Cathedral of San Nicola is a stunning example of Gothic-Catalan architecture.
Inside the cathedral, there are many rare and precious treasures: namely, pieces of artwork from artists across the ages— from the 16th century to the 19th century.
The Church of San Nicola di Trullas in Semestene
The Church of San Nicola di Trullas—also sometimes spelled Truddas— lies just 2.5 kilometers from the urban city of Sassari, in a small town called Semestene.
The Church of San Nicola di Trullas rests on top of the ruins of the ancient site of a Roman Villa and Camaldolese monastery. It wasn’t until the 12th century that this church was erected. It’s a behemoth stone rectangular structure. The stones are rugged and marked with the imprints of time. Inside the church are dignified frescoes dating back to the 13th century.
Each year, at the beginning of August, there is a festival of Saint Nicholas, in which the citizens of Semestene carry the statue of the saint from the rural church into the village – then they reverse their procession and head back to the church.
Basilica of San Simplicio in Olbia
This is one of the most famous churches in Sardinia, thanks to the festival linked to it.
The Basilica of San Simplicio is found in northern Sardinia, in Olbia in the northeastern region. It was erected during the end of the 11th century, rising from a small hill. Near the Basilica of San Simplicio are the remains of a Paleo-Christian church, built around the year 600, and the remains of a Roman temple. The Basilica of San Simplicio points to the time when the Spanish ruled over Sardinia. Most of the church demonstrates the Spanish architecture style, especially the small bell tower.
Under the altar lie the relics of Saint Simplicius. These relics were discovered in 1614 during an excavation of the church’s crypt. Often regarded as one of the most important Christian monuments in the Gallura region, don’t miss visiting the Basilica of San Simplicio.
I recommend that after you visit the Basilica of San Simplicio, you should head to the necropolis of San Simplicio, which sits very close to the basilica. It costs 5 euros to enter the site, and you’ll receive an audio guide. It’s a highly informative tour where you’ll learn about this ancient burial site and the religious beliefs and cultural customs of the various groups that inhabited Olbia throughout the centuries.
Santa Maria in Monserrato
Santa Maria di Monserrato was once a cathedral. Now, it’s a positively picturesque Romanesque sacred monument sweeping upward on the southwest part of Sardinia, in a small town right outside Cagliari named Monserrato. It’s positively one of the prettiest churches in Sardinia.
Santa Maria di Monserrato was a bishop’s seat for three centuries from the start of its construction all the way back in the year 1213. Thirty meters long, twelve meters high, and thirteen meters wide, Santa Maria di Monserrato is composed of nothing but volcanic and sedimentary stone. This rectangular stone church is a heavenly place to visit.
I recommend visiting the museum of the Tratalias territory right before or after checking out the Santa Maria di Monserrato; they sit next to each other in the same piazza.
Basilica Santa Giusta in Oristano
The Basilica of Santa Giusta is a grand cathedral jutting out from the town of Oristano in the central-western area of Sardinia. Constructed at the beginning of the 12th century, it was built entirely of sandstone in Romanesque style.
Right on the main street of Oristano, on top of a small hill, your eye will immediately be drawn to the stately and striking Basilica Santa Giusta. As one of the few religious monuments that have not been restructured over the centuries, Basilica Santa Giusta has retained all its original glory – thus being one of the must-see churches in Sardinia.
Archeologists attest that this basilica rests on top of the remains of an ancient temple dedicated to Demeter and Persephone from the 4th and 3rd centuries BC.
San Gemiliano in Sestu
San Gemiliano towers above the Sestu countryside. It has a flat front, like a giant rectangular face reaching out from the land, with a gaping hole for a mouth as the gigantic door.
Dating to the 12th century, this church was named after Bishop Gemiliano, who was martyred during the year 125 AD. The saint is celebrated two times a year, at the end of May and the beginning of September. The best time of year to visit San Gemiliano is in May, as there is also an agricultural festival honoring St. Isidoro. This festival is a lively and spirited musical event. If you want to participate in the festivals of San Gemiliano and St. Isidoro, May is the best time to plan your trip to this region.
For reference, Sestu is a town right outside of Cagliari in the Campidano plain. It’s a veritable agricultural hub, growing abundant grains, vegetables, and grapes.
Church of Santa Maria di Sibiola in Serdiana
The Church of Santa Maria di Sibiola is a Romanesque gem dwelling in the lush Sardinia countryside roughly 20 kilometers north of Cagliari.
Rising above the grapevines and olive trees, just three kilometers from the village of Serdiana, is the Church of Santa Maria di Sibiola. It’s a Romanesque church, built in 1125 from sandstone.
In my opinion, the Church of Santa Maria di Sibiola looks a bit more like a small castle than a church. It’s very regal! Definitely plan a trip to this peaceful area filled with gorgeous pastoral scenery, and take time to admire this romantic church.
Basilica of Sant’Antioco of Bisarcio in Chilivani
The Basilica of Sant’Antioco of Bisarcio is a visually striking church sprouting up from the countryside in Chilivani. It’s located in the province of Sassari in the central-north region of Sardinia. It is one of the largest Romanesque churches in Sardinia and appears even taller because it sits on top of a volcanic hill.
Partially destroyed by a fire in 1090, the fire burned up all the archives! So, while we can’t place a date on when the Basilica of Sant’Antioco of Bisarcio was founded, we know it was reconstructed and completed in 1174.
The Basilica of Sant’Antioco of Bisarcio was built from alternating green tuff and red trachyte stones, so it is a stunningly beautiful mosaic of natural rock! You’re sure to swoon when seeing the Basilica of Sant’Antioco of Bisarcio— I know I did!
Church of Nostra Signora in Tergu
The Nostra Signora di Tergu church is located in Tergu, in the north-central province of Sassari. It’s a bulky, rectangular building constructed of reddish stones called trachyte and limestone, built in the 11th century. The arcade has a precious rose window, and the interior follows a Latin cross plan.
From the 12th century onwards, the Church of Nostra Signora di Tergu was actually one of the most impressive and important Christian complexes in the north of Sardinia; ten monasteries were directly dependent on it!
If you want another reason to visit the Nostra Signora di Tergu, this wild and rural area is famed for its basket weaving. Who doesn’t love a good woven basket as a souvenir?!
Church of San Pietro in the Golgo Plateau
The Church of San Pietro is a white country church nestled amongst the Mediterranean shrub adorning the mountainside. It stands out starkly against the verdant mountains that separate the Golgo Plateau from the Mediterranean. For the sake of mental-maps, Golgo is approximately eight kilometers from Baunei, in the province of Nuroro in central-eastern Sardinia.
The Church of San Pietro was built between the 17th and 18th centuries and has a very simple and humble architectural style. Despite its minimalistic facade, each year, thousands of tourists visit this church – especially for the St. Peter festival celebrated on the last Sunday in June.
The Church of San Pietro in Bosa
The previous section covered the Church of San Pietro in Golgo, but confusingly, there is another church by the same name located in Bosa! Bosa is a romantic village situated near the coastline in the northwestern area of Sardinia.
This unmistakable church dwells just outside the town and is a glorious testament to Romanesque sacred architecture. Once a cathedral, today it is a lustrous monument of times past. With red trachyte walls and a 24-meter-high bell tower, the Church of San Pietro in Bosa is gorgeous.
Moreover, it sits outside of the castle of Malaspina, along the river bank. Visiting the castle and the Church of San Pietro in Bosa in one fell swoop is the way to do it!
Santa Maria del Regno in Arzara
The Church of Santa Maria del Regno in Arzara—sometimes spelled Ardara— can be found in the province of Sassari. This church was a palace chapel during the 11th century. Constructed of dark basalt stones with a simple rectangular plan, this church is a classic beauty. The nave has wooden trusses adorning the ceiling, and the largest 16th-century polyptych can be seen here. It’s a truly astounding artistic feat! This polyptych is anything but plain and simple!
This visually arresting church yearns for times past. It’s dark, it’s weathered, it’s gorgeous. Trust me, any visit to Sassari isn’t complete with driving to see the Santa Maria del Regno!
Church of San Leonardo in Luogosanto
Silent and beautiful, the Church of San Leonardo was built during the year 1080 entirely of granite stones in Luogosanto, the Gallura region. It’s a small church completely encased in greenery and natural beauty. It was in use until the 15th century as the chapel of Balaina castle. It has a rectangular floor plan and is truly one of the smallest churches in Sardinia you’ll likely encounter. It is lonesome and wistful— a whisper of centuries past.
Church of San Leonardo Siete Fuentes
Not far from Santu Lussurgiu, in the heart of Sardinia at 700 meters above sea level at the foot of Montiferru mountain, the tiny San Leonardo Siete Fuentes church was built in the 12th century in trachyte and basalt. Later on, not far from it a hospital and two monasteries were built.
The church was almost completely demolished between the 14th and the 15th century, save for part of the facade which is still partially visible under the current one. Nowadays, the church appears as it used to in the 15th century and is a nice mix of Romanesque and Gothic styles.
The area of Santu Lussurgiu is a lovely one to visit to immerse yourself in the nature of Sardinia. Most people go to the water springs, but the church is definitely a place you should visit.
Church of San Pantaleo in Dolianova
The Church of San Pantaleo lies just outside of Cagliari in the town of Dolianova. It is a unique Romanesque, medieval church constructed in the 12th century. Unsurprisingly, this church was built at the center of the village, at an important site of Christian worship for centuries. There are still remnants of a 5th to 6th-century baptismal fountain and a 10th-century church on the grounds.
While the Church of San Pantaleo is monumental in size and dignified in presence, what I love most about this church is that when you cross the threshold of Roman marble, you’ll see snakes engraved in the marble. I find that oddity particularly intriguing…
Basilica of Santa Maria della Neve in Cuglieri
The Basilica of Santa Maria della Neve is a church that towers above the town of Cuglieri on top of a hill. You’ll have to trek up the narrow cobblestone streets to see this huge silver-domed church. From the church, you can even see sweeping views of the seaside. Cuglieri shouldn’t be confused with the capital city of Cagliari. Cuglieri is about 120 kilometers northwest of Cagliari, in the province of Oristano.
According to local lore, the Basilica of Santa Maria della Neve was built on the exact spot where an ox-drawn cart left a statue of the Madonna that had washed ashore at the Santa Caterina di Pittinuri beach during the beginning of the 14th century. How it turned up has always been a mystery!
While this imposing white church is expansive and impressive, the true highlight is soaking in the shimmering views of the seaside below.
Church of Santa Maria in Uta
The Church of Santa Maria is a medieval church that was likely built in the 12th century by monks. It is Romanesque in style and was constructed from sandstone and limestone, with accents of basalt and marble.
Uta is a small town situated just over 20 kilometers from the capital city of Cagliari. The Church of Santa Maria resides outside of the town, in the countryside. It has three naves and a wooden roof.
When visiting Uta, it’s best to plan a walk through the glorious Sardinian countryside, in the four thousand hectares of forest surrounding Mount Arcosu.
Scattered throughout the island of Sardinia lie a multitude of stunning churches, cathedrals, and basilicas. Many of the Sardinian churches are architecturally stunning, while others stand out in their humble simplicity. I hope you enjoyed my list of the most beautiful churches in Sardinia to visit!
Further readings about Sardinia
Make sure to check out my other posts about Sardinia:
- The Most Interesting Archeological Sites In Sardinia
- The 12 Best Museums In Sardinia
- A Guide To Nuraghe In Sardinia
- The Nicest Small Towns And Cities In Sardinia
- What You Should Know Before Traveling To Sardinia
- What To See And Do In Bosa Sardinia
- What To See And Do In Alghero Sardinia
- The Most Incredible Day Trips From Cagliari
- 15 Great Things To Do In Cagliari, Sardinia
- 10 Absolutely Unmissable Things To Do In Sardinia
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