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Brief historical notes and origins of the ciutad
Alghero, known as Italy's Barceloneta (little Barcelona), was founded in the XII century by the powerful Doria family, who ably exploited the strategic location of Alghero, there building one of the most important examples of military architecture on the island. Despite the various re-workings, the fortifications remain a distinctive presence today, with the defence towers framing the ominous yet harmonious architectonic seafront design.

The town has been occupied by various colonists over the years, but it was the Pisa domination that really altered both the look and spirit of the town, particularly as concerns the language. In 1354 the expansion policy of the Crown of Aragon reached Alghero, which, by the hand of Peter IV the Ceremonious, was then purged and transformed, in just a short space of time, into one of the many colonies that orbited around the central power of the kingdom.

The important examples of Gothic-Catalan architecture located within the urban nucleus, form a unique, lavish, and indelible proof of the Catalan passing.
One important example of this is provided by the church of San Francesco, which conforms to the architectonic models of the eastern Spanish, with the characteristic star-shaped vault in the presbytery, and the evocative internal cloisters. The linguistic heritage is yet more surprising: the local variant of Catalan – algherese – is ever more alive and spoken amongst today's inhabitants.

Although Alguer was founded only relatively "recently", the surrounding area is dotted with settlements of remote and historically important origin, as borne out by the imposing nuragic complex of Palmavera, and that discovered in Sant'Imbenia during the 1980s. Right next to the Sant"Imbenia complex, located in the enchanting bay of Porto Conte (the only natural harbour in Sardinia), previously known as Portus Ninpharum as mentioned in Ptolemy's geography, we find the remains of a villa dating back to Roman times, and that can still be seen today.
Another site of great interest, and the largest of the graveyard complexes of the region, is the pre-nuragic necropolis of Anghelo ruju, located near to the road "dei due mari" running from Alghero to Porto Torres - and within easy reach of the airport.

The Catalan community, activities and religion
The historic centre of the town, and in particular the town market, remains today the main hub of commerce and craftsmanship. Of these, apart from the fishing-related activities that often take on an almost ritual-like meaning, one stands out particularly: the working of the precious red coral. Red coral is the symbol of the town which, not by chance, is located within the Coral Riviera.
The ancient ciutad becomes yet more appealing during the rites of holy week, that can be traced back to the religious Catalan culture. During this period, the mysteries linked to the cult of passion, with the sacred drama of the desclavament (descending) and Good Friday procession of the image of the wooden Christ, attract visitors from all over the world.

The sea and the coastline: an invaluable heritage
Few areas of Sardinia offer a landscape that is quite so varied and significant. As we leave the previously mentioned Baia delle Ninfe, in the area of Le Prigionette, we absolutely must stop (we are already within the regional Park of Porto Conte) to visit the protected area 'Arca di Noè'. 350 hectares of land provide homes to many different species of animal, such as the beautiful small horses, native to the "Giara". As we continue along our route over the "sleeping calcareous giant" of Capo Caccia (or Caput Hermeum for the Latins), we come across the rather grand vision of the cliffs that drop sheer down to the sea, the nineteenth century lighthouse, and the Foradada island, inhabited by many different species of marine bird (cormorants and andouin's gulls).

There is more too: Neptune’s Cave, dating back to the Cretaceous period, is of extraordinary, transcendent beauty. The cave can be reached by descending the 656 steps of the Escala del Cabirol carved out of the cliff wall, down to sea level, or alternatively by an equally spectacular, and no doubt more comfortable, boat trip from the town harbour.
The eighty kilometres of coastline, starting from the north western most tip (Capo Caccia) and running to the beach of Poglina, really does have a lot to offer.
When exploring the coasts in a southerly direction, admiring the landscape of the beautiful fine sandy bays (Lazzaretto and Bombarde), we advise stopping by the village of Fertilia – an interesting example of rationalist architecture. Having now left the town behind us, we reach the beautiful Alghero-Bosa coastline. This wild and entirely uncontaminated panoramic route unwinds through hairpin bends around the reef edges. It is named as amongst the most beautiful of Europe.

Odds 'n' Ends
The golden age of tourism in Sardinia, at a time when it was not expected, and prior to trends of, what was often an elite form of island tourism, brought about an unforeseen season of "hollywood stardom", welcoming the cast of Losey's film Boom! (1968), interpreted by Liz Taylor and Richard Burton.
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