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Romanesque Churches in Sardinia

Sardinia is known for its specific style of Romanesque architecture, which is  particularly evident in the island’s churches. Of which there are many scattered throughout the island, both in urban and rural settings. Built using local stone such as volcanic rock, the use of these materials with influences from different parts of mainland Italy and France is what in part gave the churches constructed in Sardinia their distinctive appearance.  In the south we see Provençal influences, while Lombard traditions are evident in the north of the island.

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Romanesque Churches in Sardinia

Basilica of San Simplicio, Olbia

The Church of Saint Simplicio in Olbia is one of Sardinia’s most important religious monuments. And it stands on a small hill that has a long sacred history, with Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and the early Christians. This is also the spot where Simplicio was persecuted for his Christian beliefs and killed on 15 May 304 AD. He is still the patron saint of Olbia. The Romanesque basilica we see today was built in three distinct phases, beginning in the 11th century. Built entirely from granite, it has a striking façade with a triple lancet window and a three aisled nave. The aisles are separated by columns some of which have decorated Romanesque capitals.

Church and Crypt of San Lussorio

This small Romanesque church was built around the 12th century AD, possibly by the monks of St Victor of Marseille. It stands precisely above a Roman cemetery area dating back to the 4th century AD near Forum Traiani, where in 304 AD, the martyrdom of Saint Lussorio is said to have taken place, which initiated the funerary use of the area. The Saint’s remains, already from the 4th century, were to be preserved inside a small hypogeum room, which can still be visited today and is located underneath the church, rearranged and enlarged several times during the Vandal and Byzantine periods. Inside, traces survive of the mosaics and frescoes that once adorned the room and the burial ground where the Saint’s remains rested.

Church of San Pietro delle Immagini

The small church, also known as ‘del Crocifisso’ (of the Crucifix) because of the wooden group of the Deposition dating back to the early 13th century, once kept inside and is now housed at the  nearby Church of San Sebastiano in Bulzi, was built in the 12th century in Romanesque style. The most distinctive feature is the alternating bands of black and white stones of the façade. The building has a characteristic relief above the entrance door depicting three individuals, a larger one in the centre and two smaller ones at the sides, praying with their hands pointing upwards. It is in a relatively isolated position in the Anglona countryside, and is easily reached from State Road 134.

Holy Trinity of Saccargia

Said by many to be the height of Romanesque style in Sardinia, the church is the work of Pisan-Pistoise builders. Built in two phases: the first around 1112 at the behest of Judge Constantine I of Torres, and the second around the middle of the 13th century. It was later donated to the monastery of Camaldoli. Externally the church has a striking black and white colour scheme, capturing the attention of visitors from a considerble distance. Inside a 12th century fresco survives on the central apse, one of the few preserved on the island from the Romanesque period. Next to the church the ruins of the monastery are still visible.