Located in the heart of northern Sardinia, the small town of Ozieri is a place full of history, with notable religious buildings and an area rich in archaeological sites. The number of tourists that venture there is slowly growing, a reflection of the fact that albeit small, Ozieri really has a lot to offer!
This is the largest town in Logudoro, the territory that covers most of the northern part of the island, as well as some of the center. It lies on a slope overlooking a valley, and is characterized by paved streets, small squares, gardens and elegant buildings. The pleasant architecture, makes it a perfect place just to have a stroll around the town, to discover its many historical places.
Various archaeological sites in the area testify to the presence of man since the Neolithic period. Before the Middle Ages, the area of Ozieri was occupied by various civilizations, including the Nuragic and Punic, later replaced by the Romans, whose bridges, such as the Pont’Ezzu, are still well preserved to this day .
Ozieri and its surroundings became part of the Giudicato of Torres (Kingdom of Torres) in the 12th century, and then came under Genoese and Pisan rule. In the 16th century it was part of the diocese of Bisarcio and Alghero.
Did I tickle your interest? Then continue reading to discover the many places to visit in Ozieri, and for some practical tips to plan your trip.
Table of Contents
The Best Places To Visit In Ozieri
Chiesa di Sant’Antioco di Bisarcio
If you want to explore the surroundings of Ozieri, be sure to include the Church of Sant’Antioco di Bisarcio among your stops. Considered one of the island’s medieval masterpiece, the church is located on a spur of volcanic rock, dominating the plain of Chilivani and creating a beautiful combination of architecture and nature.
The church was the seat of the diocese of the same name, and a cultural and religious center from the 11th to the 16th century. Tracing the original style is not easy, as the church was destroyed by fire in 1090, during which the archives were burned, making it impossible to discover the exact year of the foundation.
The imposing building presents different styles, from Romanesque to French, as evidenced by various parts, such as the portico leaning against the facade. On the inside, the church features a French archway with six bays supported by pillars.
You should also read my post The Most Beautiful Churches In Sardinia.
The Cathedral of Ozieri was built between the 14th and 15th as the center of the diocese of Bisarcio. In the mid-15th century, the cathedral underwent several restoration works and was enlarged following the Gothic-Catalan style. In the 19th century, another restoration work was carried out, following the Neoclassical style.
The last restoration took place in 2007, in order to repair the Cathedral after a fire that broke out in 2005. The Cathedral has a facade characterized by sinuous balustrades and a bell tower. The façade is topped by a hemispherical dome in the classical style. The interior strikes with its majesty and the beauty of the naves, on which are arranged three chapels containing various works of art.
Chiesa dei Santi Cosma e Damiano
A religious building that dates back to the late 16th century, the Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian was attached to the convent of the Capuchin friars of Ozieri, active until the 19th century.
The building features a mannerist facade on the exterior that alternates with the inhabited buildings. The interior features a central nave with three chapels on the left side. You can also see wooden furnishings and paintings dating from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Chiesa di San Nicola di Butule
A small church dating from the 13th century, made of reddish trachyte stone blocks and a long single-nave plan. The sides of the church are decorated with motifs representing fauna and flora, while the facade has a rectangular window in the Gothic-Aragonese style.
Among the most interesting historic buildings in Ozieri, the Carceri Borgia (Borgia Prison) opened in 1796 and was used until 1970. It is a modestly sized building, developed on a damp ground floor, used for short periods of imprisonment for minor offenses such as drunkenness or petty theft. On the walls you can still see graffiti made by prisoners to pass the time or to mark their days of imprisonment.
The rooms were divided into two men’s cells and a women’s cell. In the past, the courtyard was used to carry out death sentences by hanging, and it also presents an access to the isolation cell. Although the prison was used for minor offenses, the period of imprisonment was still very harsh, as the rooms were very humid and organized in order to torment the prisoners.
An aristocratic palace once owned by the noble Costi-Garau family, hence the name. It is located on Vittorio Emanuele III Street and is a typical example of a town mansion. Floors made of slate, marble and terracotta slabs combine with walls and ceilings frescoed with the family’s coat of arms.
Domus de Janas de Montessu
The necropolis of Montessu is considered one of the most important pre-Nuragic sites in Sardinia, so if you are a history buff, I recommend a visit. The necropolis was used for more than a millennium, that is, from the last years of the Neolithic to the Bronze Age.
Near the archaeological site you can see the ruins of a village and perdas fittas, the stones driven into the ground typical of Sardinia which are quite similar to the menhirs found in the United Kingdom.
Many of the Domus de Janas in Montessu feature a vestibule and a larger chamber with multiple niches, accessible through corridors. Strikingly, the stone doors of the tombs resemble a skull, a sort of ancient memento mori for all the visitors.
The two most important tombs of the site are sa Cresiedda (the small church) and sa Grutta de is Procus (the swine’s cave) both characterized by megalithic alignments arranged in a semicircle and wide entrances.
Head over to my post The Prettiest Domus De Janas In Sardinia.
Grotta di San Michele
The Grotte di San Michele are caves of karst origin, found near the civil hospital of Ozieri. Until the 18th century, the caves hosted a cult dedicated to the archangel Michael. The caves have acquired archaeological value with the discovery of several artifacts, dating from the Neolithic and even earlier times. They are divided into halls and tunnels, although part was destroyed in order to build new houses.
Check out my post 9 Must-Visit Caves In Sardinia.
An ancient bridge belonging to the Roman imperial age, the Pont’Ezzu (Old Bridge) was built to cross the Rio Mannu in Ozieri. It features six arches for a total length of 90 meters (295.3 feet).
The bridge is part of the route which took from Olbia to the road to Cagliari-Porto Torres, still used until a few decades ago. It was mainly built using trachytic limestone typical of Sardinia, in order to create a strong structure that could withstand the flow of water.
Since the Rio Mannu River no longer flows through that road, the bridge was left unused for decades. Between 1987 and 1992, the WWF in Ozieri redeveloped the area, creating a natural oasis, home to trees such as holm oak, ash and willow, and also a habitat to fauna of different species, such as predatory birds, amphibians, mammals and reptiles.
Located on a rocky outcrop on the plain of Ozieri, Nuraghe Burghidu is a very impressive site close to the town. The monument consists of a main tower, connected to two other towers by a wall. Like other nuraghe in Sardinia, the Burghidu nuraghe was built with trachyte blocks. In the main tower there are two rooms connected by a staircase, while the room below has a niche.
Nuraghe Sa Mandra ‘e Sa Jua
Another archaeological complex, about 4 km (2.5 miles) from Ozieri, “Sa Mandra de sa Jua'” is located on a small rise on the Rio Mannu. The name of the archaeological site, can be translated as “ox enclosure” and consists of a nuraghe and a village with circular and rectangular huts.
The central tower of the complex is flanked by two side towers, and the courtyard has a three-step staircase facing a hearth and a millstone. According to archaeologists and scholars, the site in the past was built following a specific design.
Head over to my post A Guide To Nuraghe In Sardinia.
Museo Civico Archeologico
The Archeology Museum of Ozieri is located in a restored building that once hosted an old convent. The museum features an exhibition of the various artifacts found in the caves of Ozieri, as well as those located in the surrounding area. The museum has also a display of three small treasures of ancient coins and an exhibition dedicated to Bronze Age artifacts.
Also known as “the tavern of the Eagle,” this is a small exhibition of objects related to the rural life and ancient crafts of Ozieri. A fusion between a museum and a tavern, the place takes its name from a stuffed eagle, displayed among the other objects. It is an interesting place to visit to rediscover the traditions of the past, related to Ozieri and Sardinia in general.
Museo del Cavallo
Recently opened, the Ozieri Museo del Cavallo (Horse Museum) is a recommended stop if you love horseback riding, or if you want to find out more about the historical and cultural link between Sardinia and horses.
The exhibit features documents, coats of arms and photographs of horses, as well as paintings, posters, statues and other works dedicated to this animal, which has always been linked to man throughout history.
Il Museo Diocesano di Arte Sacra
The Museo Diocesano di Arte Sacra in Ozieri is a 16th-century building once used for the foundation of a Jesuit college. The exhibit, dedicated to the Catholic religion and the diocesan community, is divided into eight themed areas: History, Vestments, Statuary, Prayer, Rites, Precious Objects, Processions and the Gallery.
Among the various works on display, the most important are the Cross from Ozieri Cathedral and the wooden sculpture of St. George slaying the dragon, both dating from the 15th to 16th centuries.
You should also read my post The 18 Best Museums In Sardinia.
Where to stay in Ozieri
Being a small town, Ozieri has a limited selection of accommodation options available on booking engines. Given its relative proximity to Sassari, you can consider visiting Ozieri as a day trip, otherwise – if you want to devote more time to appreciate everything it has to offer, you can choose among some of the most recommended places to stay:
B&B dal Cardinale – a B&B overlooking the city, it has cozy modern rooms. A traditional Italian style breakfast is served every morning.
La mia casetta country chic – a cozy house small apartment for rent perfect for a couple, furnished in a very pleasant rustic style.
Carru de Ammentos – another nice B&B in the center of Ozieri, run by a local family and that provides double and triple rooms.
How to get to Ozieri
The closest larger city to Ozieri is Sassari, but it’s easy to get there from Alghero and Olbia too. To get to Ozieri from Sassari by car, you can take State Road SS729 towards SP1 in Ozieri, following it until you reach your destination. It will take you around 45 minutes.
If you prefer to travel by bus, you can take bus line 761 Sassari – Mores – Ozieri route.
The drive from Alghero will take you around one hour and 10 minutes. You will be better off driving to Sassari and from there follow the directions I have provided above.
There is no direct bus from Alghero to Ozieri. Take bus line 9293 to Sassari and change there for bus line 761.
Driving from Olbia will take you around 55 minutes. Take SS127 all the way to Berchidda, and once there follow SS199 to Ozieri. From Olbia, you can travel to Ozieri by public transport on a combination of train and bus. Take the train to Ozieri Chilivani – a quite important train junction in northern Sardinia – and from there hop on bus 9207 to Ozieri. It will take you little over one hour.
Curious about train travel in Sardinia? Read this post!