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Oristano was founded in the XI Century and became the capital of the Giudicato of Arborea in 1070. As matter of fact, it has numerous architectonic evidence related to the Middle Ages.
In Roma Square, you'll find historic remains of the town walls. The Torre di San Cristoforo was once an entrance to the city and called Porta Manna. The tower was built together with the walls in 1291 by order of Mariano II. The building is massive and includes three floors. On the third level is another, smaller tower with a very old bell.
During Mariano II's administration, the Duomo of Santa Maria was built. Its original structure has almost disappeared; only the apse, bell-tower, basement and the Rimedio's gothic chapel still remain. The first repairs date back to the XVI Century and later in the XVIII and XIX Centuries, as evidenced by the building's current Baroque style.
Not far from Roma Square is Eleonora D'Arborea's house. It was probably the gendarmes' head office, as the Giudicato of Arborea coat of arms indicates. The building is located in Parpaglia Street, where the city's oldest and most traditional inn is also located Here, it's possible to taste the delicious Vernaccia of Oristano wine.
Walking along Corso Umberto, you'll come upon the square dedicated to Eleonora. On one side of the square is the town hall, built in the Scolopi's monastery. The Duomo of Assunta is also in the same area. It's mixture of different artistic styles, baroque being the outstanding one. Opposite is the St. Francis church, completely rebuilt in the neo-classical style by the architect Gaetano Cima in the XIX Century. Inside, to the left of the altar, is the famous Nicodemo's crucifix, the most important example of a Spanish gothic sculpture in Sardinia.
Oristano houses the important Antiquarium Arborense Museum , with its numerous findings from the Nuraghic and Roman Ages that come from the old cities of Tharros and Cornus.
Other interesting monuments in the historical centre include the church of St. Dominic, the church of St. Clare (gothic-styled building dating back to 1345 and recently restored) and the church of Carmine. This is a beautiful example of baroque-Piedmont architecture, designed by the architect Giuseppe Viana between 1766 and 1785. The church's ex-monastery offers the temporary exhibition of local handicrafts, particularly during the carnival period (February), when the famous equestrian tournament called Sartiglia takes place.
Oristano is not on the coast, but the beautiful Torre Grande beach is not very far from it. On this beach, you'll find the biggest tower in Sardinia, characterised by a cylindrical shape and a base diameter of almost 20 m. It was built by order of Filippo II of Spain with the aim of protecting the harbour from the Saracen raids. Afterwards, the tower was converted into a lighthouse and in 1880 the lighthouse keeper's house was built.
Torre Grande is a famous tourist destination with plenty of resorts and in the summertime has over 20.000 inhabitants.
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