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Castelsardo was founded in the XII century by the Genovese family of Doria. It is situated on the summit of a rocky promontory in a strategic position dominating the harbour. The castle and fortifications were built in this time period. Beginning in the second half of the XV century, Castelsardo belonged to the Aragonians. Today, it's considered an important commercial centre for characteristic craftsmanship and is most famous for its baskets made of woven vegetal fibres.
Castelsardo's economy is traditionally based on agricultural and fishing, especially lobsters that are later prepared according to the local fishermen's antique recipes.
Castelsardo is also famous for its production of woven baskets, one of the Sardinian handicrafts most appreciated all over the world. These techniques of weaving have also been implemented in the fishing industry and are used to make the lobster traps made of various types of reeds and olive branches.
Visiting Castelsardo's cathedral, you can admire its high altar and the famous Madonna del Maestro di Castelsardo painting. This is the work of an anonymous painter in about the year 1500 and is certainly one of the most beautiful ones in all of Sardinia's painting history.
Walking down the characteristic alleys behind the small church of Purgatorio, you can see the cathedral of St. Anthony Abbot (XVII Century) from whose small churchyard it's possible to admire the sea's marvellous panorama. An aisle inside the cathedral conserves the original, late gothic construction of a Presbyterian area from the XVI Century and a beautiful chorus from the first half of the XVII Century.
The pretty church of St. Mary is situated just below the medieval Doria Castle built in the medieval period and later modified. In an inside aisle, there are wooden alters, an antic statue of St. Francis and a small chapel with a crucifix of the Black Christ. It's the oldest one on the island.
Don't miss the Rock of Elephant (La Roccia dell'Elefante) - a rock similar to an elephant with its trunk turned towards the street. This formation is one of the most spectacular manifestations of limestone erosion, a substance often utilised by prehistoric civilisations for the construction of the funeral monuments in the "Domus de Janas".
A very impressive procession called Lunissanti during the Holy Week commences Easter Monday in the church of St. Mary. This is the most interesting Easter procession in Sardinia. This ceremony's tradition probably comes from the XI Century and was introduced by the Benedictine monks from the neighbouring basilica of Tergu. During the procession, all of the lights are switched off and all of the alleys, squares and characteristic steps are only illuminated with torches carried by the faithful, creating an unforgettable atmosphere. Other Easter processions take place on Holy Thursday and Good Friday (Christ's Deposition from the Cross).
In addition, Castelsardo offers a variety of entertainment in different piano bars, pubs, indoor and outdoor discos, gyms, fitness clubs, diving centres offering guided immersions, service centres offering propane tank rentals and re-fills, rubber dinghy and yacht charters and a new Aquatic Park only few minutes from Castelsardo.
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