This is an excerpt from the book “Sardinia”.
Although a settlement from very ancient times, the origin of Sassari as a town is medieval, with its historic core having being settled in what is now the quarter of Sant’Apollinare.
Sassari was the first free commune of Sardinia (1294) and it kept the features of a medieval walled town until the 1800’s. Its history has always been connected with the destiny of Sardinia and so it was under the control of Pisa and Genova, then it had an important role in the events of the four Giudicati (sort of local autonomous provinces), fell under the long-lasting Spanish-Aragonese dominion (1297/1323-1708), followed by a short Austrian rule (1708-1717), before passing under the House of Savoy in 1720. Sardinia was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy, created in 1861. Italy became a Repubblic in 1946.
The historic heart of the town was enclosed by the walls stretching from Piazza Sant’Antonio, Corso Vico, Corso Margherita di Savoia, via Torre Tonda, via Brigata Sassari, piazza Castello, via Mercato and Corso Trinita’. The walls were interrupted by four gates, leading to the early “quarters” of Sassari. From 1278 the town was divided into five “quarters”, corresponding to the parish churches of Sant’Apollinare, San Nicola, Santa Caterina, San Sisto and San Donato. According to tradition the quarter of Sant’Apollinare is the site of the first settlement.
Though sober in architecture, the walls have had the privilege to watch over the history of the town. As already stated, the urban plan of Sassari dates from the Middle Ages. The walls were first erected with a defensive purpose by the Pisans in the 13th century, then restored and modified by the Aragonese.
They were about 2 km in lenght, with 35 square towers and a round one in via Torre Tonda. There were four gates, corresponding to the four ancient quarters of the town. A characteristic: a small chapel was erected by each gate during the Aragonese domination, but only one remain near Porta Rosello (unfortunately it is now the site of a bar).
Sassari had the aspect of a walled medieval town until the 19th century (the middle of 1800’s) when the urban expansion process caused the demolition of the walls, except for some surving ruins, like the remains in Corso Trinita’ with still visible coats of arms and the embattled tower in Piazza Sant’Antonio. Late in the 19th century the old Aragonese castle built in 1330 was demolished to make room for the new baracks, “Caserma Lamarmora”.
Where to stay in Sassari
There are hotels, B&Bs, villas and guesthouses available, check them out and make a reservation here.