top of page
  • hbanziger

D + 14: The Power is All in the Name

Updated: Mar 26, 2021

Castel Doria - Castelgenovese - Castillo Aragonès – Castelsardo. The name says it all. Same place, four names, three rulers. History could not be more telling. Built on a 250 million years old extinct volcano cone, Castelsardo towers high over both the surrounding sea and the land.

The AFAET at 6 am in the morning - time to start cleaning and restocking the boat

Only 16 years after Genoa’s and Pisa’s decisive victory over the Fatimid Fleet in Mahdia (in today’s Tunisia), the Doria family built a castle here in 1102 to secure the northern part of Sardinia. They could not have picked a better place.

The lava boulders with their gas bubbles on one of the beach in Castelsardo

The town is literally built into the volcanic cone and impossible to take. The basaltic rocks provide shelter, cover and abundant material to repair walls during a siege. The town was never taken and became only Spanish when the Genovese decided to pull out of Sardinia in 1448.

The massive bastion built on the basaltic rocks of Castelsardo

Even today, the town is remarkably well preserved and still a residential area with very little tourist presence. We were almost alone when climbing the Doria Castle. Not much indicates how important Castelsardo once was – unless you dig it up in Italian books. But two things in town give it away.

The tall bell tower of the Cathedral of Sant' Antonio

View from the Doria Castle on Castelsardo and the marina

There is the Co-Cathedral of Sant’Antonio Abate. Castelsardo must have been the co-capital of the Kingdom of Sardinia since only the Capital has the right to call its church cathedral. Built in 1503, when the town was already Spanish, the other capital was Cagliari in the south of Sardinia. When we get there, we shall have a look whether we find the second co-Cathedral. The second give away is the old catholic Grammar School which was housed in a wonderful old palace. The palace is now in bad shape and closed but it looks like an official building or the seat of an important family. The streets were too narrow to take a picture. I still wonder what it actually was.

Inside of the very large Cathedral of Sain'Antonio - too large for just a small town

When Sardinia became part of the Kingdom of Piedmont, Castelsardo dropped out of history and out of sight. There is no industry here, the development of tourism is modest and the marina which was built to give the town an economic boost is sleepy and full of elderly yachts from the 80ies. If feels as if the clock moves slower here than in the rest of the world.

Local woman selling her hand made baskets in the street

Time to say good-bye and leave for Stintino further west

31 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page