Neoclassicism in Sassari: music and prayer

Cattedrale di San Nicola, particolare della facciata - Sassari

Neoclassicism in Sassari: music and prayer

Every time Neoclassic style appears in Sassari, whether in the formality of religious statuary or in civic architecture, it tells of events that marked the city’s history
shapes and decorations typical of the XIX century, from the churches to the theatre

A short four-stop itinerary: apart from the famous décor of the Cathedral of San Nicola, Neoclassic culture is well represented in the capital of the Capo di Sopra in the form of the fine architecture of the Teatro Civico and two churches, the interior of the medieval church of Santa Maria di Betlem and the more recent church of San Giuseppe.

Journey length: 1.7 km 

Road travel time: 5 min

Cathedral of San Nicola

The Sassari church is a trove of Neoclassic treasures. On the left of the transept is the funerary monument of Placido Benedetto, Count of Moriana, done in 1807 by Felice Festa. It features a grey marble triangle and a Greek sarcophagus with a medallion sporting an effigy of the nobleman. There is a statue at either side, the symbols of Faith and Sardinia, and a genie in a helmet with shield and armour holding a folded flag. The altar of the Holy Sacrament (1838) is Late Baroque in style and adorned with Neoclassic statues. The Neoclassic pulpit was made by Giuseppe Gaggini in 1840 and is oval, held up by three great shelves and vegetable ornaments. The parapet is divided into mirrors by flat Doric pillars (obviously Neoclassic) that frame bas reliefs featuring the profiles of the four evangelists.
Cattedrale di San Nicola - Sassari
Cathedral of san Nicola
The most important church in Sardinia's second-largest city, in the northwest of the Island, is a mixture of styles and decorations, the...

Civic Theatre

It is a fine example of Neoclassic architecture designed by Giuseppe Cominotti and erected on Via Vittorio Emanuele II in the early 1800s. The façade is an elegant wall that ends in a triangular gable and divided by Ionic pilasters. The side that gives onto Via Satta is adorned with a small cylindrical tower embellished with streamers and garlands. The median wall features the door that leads to the atrium, where there are two sculptures portraying the great playwrights Alfieri and Goldoni, sculpted by Francesco Orsolino in 1829. Inside is a horseshoe layout that drew its inspiration from the Carigano theatre in Turin.
Teatro Civico, facciata esterna - Sassari
Civic Theatre - Palazzo di Città
In the centre of Sassari, administrative centre of northern Sardinia, stands a beautiful expression of Neoclassical architecture, once the...

Santa Maria di Betlem

Medieval in origin, it was built together with the Benedictine monastery in 1106 at the behest of the giudice (local sovereign) Costantino. Inside are large votive candlesticks made of carved wood which on the 14th of August every year are carried in procession by the representatives of the gremi clad in XIX century costumes to celebrate the Discesa dei Candelieri (Descent of the Candlestick), Sassari’s most heartfelt festivity. The façade is divided into three sections: the lower has the door decorated with pensile arches and dates to 1236-1238. The two rows above it, graced with a large rose window under a gable, came about when the church was reconstructed in 1465. The interior is the result of a renovation project carried out by friar Antonio Cano between 1829 and 1834, together with the presbytery full of classic statuettes, raised decorations and paintings. You will see the Doric chapels, that of the Muratori and the six belonging to the other gremi, in Baroque style.
Santa Maria di Betlem - Sassari
Santa Maria di Betlem
The most ancient church in Sassari, the administrative centre of northern Sardinia, consists of a variety of overlapping styles in which the Gremi...

San Giuseppe

Built between 1884 and 1888 by the Sassari-born architect Francesco Agnesa, the classic flair is evident starting with the façade which, with high columns on pedestals, is reminiscent of the work of the great architect Andrea Palladio. Above the door is the heraldic shield of Archbishop Marongiu Del Rio, who backed the project. Inside is a large hall with box ceiling and side chapels complete with altars.
Chiesa di san Giuseppe - Sassari
San Giuseppe
At the end of the 19th century, a shining example of Neoclassical architectural stylistic elements appeared in Sassari, administrative centre of...

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