Sassari is the capital of Province and also one of the seven royal cities of Sardinia. It is the hometown of two Presidents of the Republic: Antonio Segni and Francesco Cossiga. The first time in which the name of Sassari appeared in an official document was thanks to a curiae registry, in an 1131 act, found in the ancient monastery of San Pietro di Silki: it was about “Jordi de Sassaro”. Instead, in another document dated 1135, reference is made to the church dedicated to “Sancti Nicolai de Tathari”. After Sassari reached a respectable dimension, the maritime Republics of Pisa and Genoa started to look at Sassari with a certain interest as they wanted to warrant their commercial expansion: the city was administered for along period alternatively by the Pisan and the Genoase people, while in 1323 it passed to the Aragonese domination. In 1527 Sassari was occupied by the French army and by the Genoase allies in charge of Andrea Doria. In the XVI and XVII century Sassari had to tolerate the malfunctioning of the Spanish government. In 1713, the Austrian seized the power of the city and of the whole Sardinia, Vittorio Amedeo II, duke of Savoia and king of Sicily, was also entitled as King of Sardinia. The palaces of the Italy square (piazza Italia), known also as “the living room of the city” go back to this last period, the Palace of the Province stands out among the others.
Among the oldest buildings of the city, emerge instead the Palace of Usini (1577). The central building of Sassari University is very elegant and constitutes the most ancient Athenaeum of Sardinia: it was completed in 1565, with the add of a beautiful cloister from 1600 at its interior. Perhaps the most representative monument of the city is the Fontana of Rosello (1606): for centuries, starting from the 1200, the citizenship has been drinking its water, that gushed out a source previously implanted there.
In Sassari, there are numerous churches of artistic value, such as the cathedral of San Nicola, patron of the city: situated in the historical center, very close to the Ducal Palace, it has been built at different stages, but the original part goes back to the XII century. At its inside, you will find several art works from the XIV to the XIX century and the Treasure Museum. The monastery of San Pietro di Silki is also interesting (XI-XII century) and also the churches of Santa Maria di Betlem, San Donato, Santa Caterina and del Rosario.
The National archaeological Museum of “Giovanni Antonio Sanna” offers remarkable cultural inspirations ( findings from the prehistoric, Phoenician-Punic and Roman periods, found especially from the diggings of the old city of Turris Lybisonis are kept here, and there is also an exhibition of paintings from the 1300 to the present days) and “Francisco Bands” Ethnographic Museum, where you could admire a rich collection of traditional Sardinian costumes and objects.
Sassari has always been one of Sardinian best centers for ceramics (handmade dishes and majolicas), wrought iron, stone, wood, glass and leather working. Among the most important events scheduled for different dates during the year, the Candelieri ( men carrying candles) are for sure among one of the most picturesque characters (on the Assumption’s day, that is on the 14th of August, the Gremi – the nine arts and trades corporations of Sassari – parade along the ways of the city center carrying on their shoulders very big honorary candles in wood and dancing in honor of the Madonna) and the Sardinian horse ride ( Cavalcata Sarda ), one of the most important folkloric appointments of Sardinia: on the penultimate Sunday of May, 200 knights and more than 70 groups coming from all the Island gather in Sassari on a parade across the city. The “pariglie”(pairs of acrobatic hourses )perform instead at the Pinna hippodrome.