Standing atop a hill, its dominant position overlooks the surrounding valley. The Church of San Giovanni Battista is the oldest church in Orotelli, in the heart of the island. It is named after the patron of the Barbagia village, celebrated at the end of August. The construction dates back to the first 25 years of the 12th century. Between 1116, the year of the Othana diocese’s institution, and 1139 it was a temporary episcopal see, pending the completion of the construction of the Church of San Nicola in Ottana.
Throughout the centuries, San Giovanni Battista has undergone alterations that have changed its original appearance, divided into a layout with a cross commissus (being a T-shape). Built in red trachyte, it is 30 metres long and quite narrow (eight metres). The roof is constructed with exposed wooden beams. Originally, the space within was a single nave with exposed trachyte blocks and had a wooden cover, with the partitions of the transept turned crosswise. In the 1960s, the 17th-century wooden altar was removed and two side aisles were added, which saw it take on a basilica form. Of the Romanesque structure in volcanic stone remain the façade, apse and angular pilasters of the transept and sides. The 14th-century bell tower strongly characterises the building, with its impressive shape and the bas-reliefs depicting mysterious symbols (a Roman soldier, a man holding a palm, lambs and snakes), but above all the fretwork and embroidery of the frames.
Two horizontal frames divide the façade into three segments: in the lower part, there is the architraved portal, in the middle an oculus surmounted by a series of small arches resting on moulded pediments. The sloping elements of the upper part are also decorated with arches that continue along the sides of the building and the apse façade. Inside the apse is a single window with a carved Greek cross, similar to that of San Nicola. Other single-lancet windows open in the sides of the church. The frontage is divided into three sections by two horizontal frames. The portal, with an architrave and a lunette, opens up in the base. The middle panel is characterised by a central oculus and a second frame decorated with a series of small arches. The sloping roofs are also decorated with a series of small arches that continue along the sides of the church and decorate the façade of the apse, in which a central single lancet window with a carved Greek cross opens up.
Other churches in the territory of Orotelli that are not to be missed include Spirito Santo, built in granite in the form of a pyramid, San Pietro di Oddini in the countryside, San Lussorio, and Madonna di Sinne, along with the Parco Sa Serra, with various Nuragic remnants.