A Complete Guide To Tempio Pausania, Sardinia

Also known as the “stone city,” Tempio Pausania is a small town located in the center of Gallura at the foot of Mount Limbara. Tempio Pausania is famous for its carnival, which features a parade of floats, and for its cork and wine production.

If you are planning a trip to northern Sardinia, then Tempio Pausania is a recommended stop to add to your itinerary. In this guide you can find information on what to see in town and in its surroundings.

Tempio Pausania Sardinia

The History Of Tempio Pausania, Sardinia

The first information about Tempio Pausania dates back to the 12th century, when it was known with the name Tempio. In the Middle Ages, the city passed from the Giudicato of Gallura (Kingdom of Gallura) to the Republic of Pisa, a period during which it was also home to Judge Nino Visconti, mentioned by Dante in the Divine Comedy.

In the 14th century, with the Aragonese conquest of Sardinia, the city experienced a difficult period due to continuous conflicts and plagues that reduced the population. In the 15th century, Tempio became part of the fiefdom of the Carroz D’Arborea family, which ordered the construction of several religious buildings.

With the cession of Sardinia to the Savoys in 1720, Tempio had an important role in the repopulation of Gallura. In the late 19th century the name Tempio was joined by the term Pausania, probably referred to the bishopric of Phausania.

The medieval origins of the city can be observed in the various buildings, such as the Cattedrale di San Pietro Apostolo, the small churches of the Rosario and Purgatorio, or the house of Nino Visconti.

Walking around the town of Tempio Pausania is very pleasant, precisely because of the presence of these historic buildings and nice squares such as Piazza Faber.

The surrounding Gallurese landscape and Monte Limbara, offer several opportunities for trekking lovers, while wine lovers can taste some excellent Vermentino in the various wineries in the area.

Tempio Carnival
Photo by Jessica G. Palitta @shutterstock

What To See In Tempio Pausania

Museo delle Macchine da Sughero

The Museo delle Macchine da Sughero in Tempio Pausania is located at 9 Limbara Street. The museum features six exhibition rooms divided on two levels, with a historical tour based on cork processing machinery. The tools and equipment have been restored for the collection. Among them you can admire the saw (sarra a nastru), hot and ink stamping machines, as well as dies for the making of corks. The museum is free to visit.

Lu Carrasciali Timpiesu

If you are in Tempio Pausania during the month of February, then don’t miss the opportunity to attend the Carrasciali Timpiesu, or Carnival of Tempio. The spectacular parade of floats has been held in Tempio Pausania since 1956 and features the character of “King George” who represents power.

The carnival begins on Shrove Thursday, a day on which King George’s float parades through the city. On Sunday King George “meets” the commoner Mannena and marries her. The festive and merry atmosphere fills the streets of Tempio Pausania, with many other floats and masked figures parading through the city.

tempio pausania sardinia

Cattedrale di San Pietro Apostolo

The main religious building of Tempio Pausania, the Cattedrale di San Pietro Apostolo is located in the city center, in the square of the same name. The church’s medieval origins can be seen in the simple facade, with an arched portal and two windows.

The side opposite to the facade presents greater complexity, as it was built following the neoclassical style. Inside, the church has a single nave and four chapels. The present conformation of the church is due to the restoration that took place in the 19th century.

Oratorio del Purgatorio

A small religious building, built in the 17th century by one of the local lords, named Gavino Misorro, as penance for killing his enemies and thus trying to be forgiven by the pope. The building has a simple facade, with a style similar to the Cattedrale di San Pietro Apostolo, but with decidedly smaller dimensions.

Oratorio del Rosario
LPLT, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Oratorio del Rosario

In addition to the Oratorio del Purgatorio, Tempio Pausania is also home to another small religious building dating back to the 15th century. The Oratorio del Rosario has a facade devoid of prominent decorative elements, topped by a small bell placed under an arch. The entire building was made using granite blocks, like other religious buildings in the area.

Tempio Pausania
Photo by Franco Volpato @shutterstock

San Francesco Church

Another important church in the town of Tempio Pausania, that of San Francesco was built in the 16th century, one of the first in Sardinia to follow the Renaissance style. Made of exposed granite blocks, the facade features a rectangular window and an arched doorway. The single-nave interior is divided into four arches with chapels below.

Collegio degli Scolopi

The former Collegio degli Scolopi features a structure made of typical granite block masonry. It is a historic building in the city, with a garden that was once used as a cemetery. Over the years the building has undergone several changes.

tempio pausania station
Smiley.toerist, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tempio Pausania Railway Station

The Tempio Pausania railway station was built in 1931 and is an interesting example of the architecture of the time, as it retains all the original construction features. The building was made of brick and granite, with various geometric bands as cornices and openings.

Inside the building there is a waiting room, where you can admire the works of Giuseppe Biasi, one of the most important Sardinian painters of the 1900s. A project is currently underway to turn the station into a museum.

aperitivo in Cagliari

The Wineries of Gallura

Tempio Pausania is also famous for the production of Vermentino di Gallura, the only Sardinian DOCG wine. The wine is made by following modern techniques and selecting the best grapes of the territory. It is then aged in barrels, to obtain the best possible result.

Among the local wineries, I would recommend Cantina Gallura, which in addition to Vermentino DOCG, produces an excellent Cannonau. Other notable wineries are Cantina Manconi and Tenuta Muscazega.

Make sure to also read my post 15 Must Visit Wineries In Sardinia.

Tempio Monte Limbara
Photo by Rodolfo Baldussi @shutterstock

Monte Limbara and Fonti Rinagghju

If you are in the mood to explore the surroundings of Tempio Pausania, Monte Limbara is the perfect place, especially if you love hiking. The mountain is covered by typical Mediterranean scrub, with an area that stretches almost seven thousand hectares, where you can find several hiking and mountain biking trail.

The “Tafoni” trail is characterized by granite rocks, while the “Collegamento” trail leads through forests and artificial lakes, where you can observe the local fauna.

In and around the town of Tempio Pausania, there are several water springs, including those of Rinagghju, which descend directly from Mount Limbara. The spring was analyzed in 1936 and classified as cold oligomineral water of granitic origin. Although the analysis of the spring is quite recent, Rinagghju water has been known since Roman times for its therapeutic properties.

Piazza de André
Visit.tempio, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Piazza de André

In Piazza de André (also known as Faber Square) you can admire a Renzo Piano‘s installation, dedicated to Italian singer, musician and artist Fabrizio De Andrè, known for having a special connection to Sardinia and especially to Tempio Pausania (he was from Genoa).

It is a web of colored sails that captures sunlight, illuminating the granite during the day. As the sun sets, the sails close, transforming into 12 colorful crayons of the Faber Castell brand, the one used by Fabrizio De Andrè for its drawings.

parco delle rimembranze
AlPanich, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Parco delle Rimembranze

The Parco delle Rimembranze is the green space within the city of Tempio Pausania, which features 96 oak trees in five rows. As the name suggests, the Parco delle Rimembranze is dedicated to the Tempio Pausania citizens who fell during the Great War, in fact each tree is associated with a soldier, as can be seen from the diagram placed near the monument dedicated to the Sassari Brigade.

Nuraghe Polcu
Photo by Marco Mul @shutterstock

Nuraghe Izzana

Nuraghe Izzana is located in the suggestive Valle della Luna (Moon Valley). The nuraghe is one of the most important of Gallura, as it has been kept in an excellent state of preservation.

The Nuraghe Izzana dates back to the end of the Bronze Age and is characterized by a triangular shape, with a chamber inside, from which two corridors branch off, leading to four cells. The tower, formed of granite blocks arranged in irregular rows, overlooks a spectacular natural landscape.

Nuraghe Majori
Benoît Prieur, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Nuraghe Majori

Another important archaeological site that you can easily reach from Tempio Pausania, Nuraghe Majori is a fortress hidden in the Gallura landscape. It dates back at least 3500 years and is located at 500 meters (1,640.4 feet) above sea level and surrounded by a forest.

Made of granite, the nuraghe has an entrance made with an architrave that leads to a corridor of about ten meters. The floor is paved, while the narrow walls open into an oval shape towards the middle part of the corridor.

From April to October, inside the nuraghe it is possible to observe a colony of small bats, which should not be disturbed with flashes or loud noises.

Head over to my post A Guide To Nuraghe In Sardinia.

Other interesting places to visit in Tempio Pausania

In the town center of Tempio Pausania, you will find the Residenza Nino Visconti, a medieval building that in the 13th century was home to Nino Visconti, the ruler of the Kingdom of Gallura and friend of the poet Dante Alighieri, mentioned in an act of the Purgatory of the Divine Commedy. The building features two rooms and an inner courtyard, now incorporated into the surrounding built-up area.

Another important building in the city is that of the Ex Me, dating from 1663. Originally, the building served as the city’s prison, but in the 20th century it was converted into a market. Nowadays, the Ex Me is home to the tourism office of the city.

Tempio Pausania
Photo by Marco Mul @shutterstock

Among the other historical palaces in Tempio Pausania, you can visit Palazzo Pes-Villamarina. It was built in the 19th century by the Pes family, using granite blocks and plaster. Despite being owned by the Pes family, the palace was also propriety of the church, until its use for residential purposes ceased in 1966.

Other notable archaeological sites near Tempio Pausania include the Pascaredda Tomb of the Giants, a Bronze Age burial site composed of granite monoliths about 10 meters high. The main chamber is accessed through a hatch leading to a corridor formed with granite blocks.

Tempio Pausania
Photo by Ralf Geithe @shutterstock

Practical Guide

Where to stay in Tempio Pausania

Tempio Pausania is a small town, but you can find hotels, rooms for rent, and B&Bs where you can stay. These are the most recommended ones:

AGNATA DI DE ANDRE’ – once the residence of Fabrizio de André, this is one of the best known boutique hotels in Sardinia.

FABER GUESTHOUSE – elegant rooms in the town center, the entire guesthouse has been beautifully refurbished to appear modern even when located in a traditional building.

NEW PETIT HOTEL – a lovely 3-star hotel with classic, comfortable rooms, and a bar, restaurant and terrace.

AL VECCHIO CORSO B&B – a comfortable B&B with a balcony that offers a nice view of the city.

Head over to my post 15 Best Boutique Hotels In Sardinia.

How to get to Tempio Pausania

The two nearest, largest cities are Sassari and Olbia, from which you can reach Tempio Pausania by car or bus.

The road from Sassari is very windy (although it also is one of the most scenic roads in Sardinia), so take your time if you are driving, and take motion sickness tablets if you are taking the bus. When I visited with my sister, we weren’t expecting such a windy road and ended up taking longer than expected and taking turns in driving to give us a break from the motion sickness!

From Sassari, you’ll have to take the Strada Statale 672 Sassari-Tempio and then Strada Statale 127 Settentrionale Sarda towards Viale Valentino in Tempio Pausania. Travel time is about one hour. If you’d rather go by bus, you need to take bus number 9327.

From Olbia, take the Strada Statale 127 Settentrionale Sarda in the direction of Via Paluimeddu in Tempio Pausania. The trip takes about 50 minutes. If you prefer to travel by bus, you can reach Tempio Pausania from Olbia by taking bus number 602.

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Read about the best places to visit in Tempio Pausania, Sardinia - via @clautavani

2 thoughts on “A Complete Guide To Tempio Pausania, Sardinia”

  1. Great work Claudia. We are going to visit Tempio Pausania real soon. I have one question though.. Is the road to Olbia and back an easy driving, or it’s a windy one too? Thanks a lot for your help in advance.

  2. Last time I went there I drove from Sassari with my sister and we literally had to take turns driving as whoever was not driving would get car sick. It’s shorter from Olbia, but I want to say pretty much just as bad!

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