The route of Sartiglia

The route of Sartiglia unwinds along the old streets of the town. 

Following the dressing of ‘Su Componidori’ – usually taking place outside the old centre – the cortege heads for via del Duomo, the setting of the star joust. Until 1907, horsemen used to reach the Cathedral through ‘Porta a Mare’ (near the present Piazza Manno), once representing the southern gate to access the fortified town. In the same year, the fortress was demolished as it was considered of scarce artistic worth. 
In a neglected state, too, was the Tower of San Filippo, adjacent to the residential palace of the medieval sovereigns, located in the proximity of the present town prison. Horsemen’s race starts right from the area in front of the jail. They will be riding in the attempt to spear a star suspended to a green ribbon, stretched under the 14th-century bell tower of the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Oristano. 
Inside the church, dedicated to the Virgin of the Assumption, a number of chapels and fine statues reveal the various historical phases of this significant building, whose farthest origins date back to the Byzantine age. The ancient Gothic chapel of the “Madonna del Rimedio” (lit. the Virgin of the Remedy) contains a polychrome stone sculpture. The 14th Century statue of Our Lady of the Annunciation was sculpted by Nino Pisano. The chapel of the martyr Archelao, patron Saint of the town, and that of Farmers’ Guild, built in Baroque style, with decorations in pure gold, are but a few gems guarded in this religious monument, considered among the most solemn ones in the whole Island.

Saint Francis’s church and convent look onto the track of the star joust, being located on a challenging bend that riders are expected to take bravely at a high speed. Today the church appears in a neo-Classical style, although its origins date back to the 13th-century. It jealously guards a wooden Crucifix, known as ‘of Nicodemus’, portraying the tragic, painful type of Christ suffering on the Cross. A masterpiece of Rhenish inspiration, it has been attributed to workers from Valenza and dates from the 14th century. The work has been kept in Oristano since ancient times, standing as one of the most important monuments to religiousness and culture, not just of Sardinia.
The gallop of horsemen trying to catch the star – riding past the church of Sant’Antonio, the chapel of an ancient medieval hospital, and the small church of the Holy Spirit, of Byzantine origin – ends in the square in front of the church of San Mauro. 
Following the route towards the street where the ‘pariglie’ will show their performances, the horsemen parade reaches Piazza Eleonora. This square is dominated by a 19th-century statue sculpted by the artist Ulisse Cambi in the honour of Eleonora of Arborea. The sovereign regent of the medieval Kingdom of Arborea lived at the end of the 14th century. Her name is linked to the promulgation of a revision of the ‘Carta de Logu’, a code of laws making the basis for the kingdom law. 'Palazzo degli Scolopi' ('Piarists’ Palace'), once a convent, now hosting the offices of the municipality, looks onto the square, like ‘Campus Colonna’ Palace, dating from the 18th century; here the Mayor and the town Council have their seat. 
Corso Umberto – a street better known as ‘via Dritta’ – connects piazza Eleonora to piazza Roma, another landmark of the town. ‘Arcais’ Palace looks onto via Dritta. Now a state seat hosting a few offices of the provincial administration of Oristano, it was raised in the second half of the 18th century by the nobleman Don Damiano Nurra Conca, Marquis of Arcais. He also wanted to build a convent to donate to the Order of Carmelites, which now hosts a few academic courses of the regional Universities, as well as a church built in typical Piedmontese Baroque style.

A powerful tower raised by Mariano II of Arborea at the end of the 13th century dominates piazza Roma. In that period, the sovereign wanted to enhance the fortification system of the medieval town: therefore, walls were built and fortified with 28 towers, with three main access gates. The tower of Mariano, also known as ‘tower of San Cristoforo’ or ‘Porta Manna’ (‘big door’), represented the northern, most important entrance to the town. Built in sandstone blocks, it measures 28 metres. On the top storey, it hosts a bronze bell of the 15th century, a rare example of a bell meant for civic purposes. 

Following the above-mentioned route, the cortege goes beyond an imaginary line traced along the fortified town to reach via Mazzini, a street once running along the town walls. From the church square of San Sebastiano, of 17th-century origins, it runs exactly where a ditch formerly encircled the defence circuit. Overlooking this street, the setting of the riding performances, the tower of Portixedda (‘small door’), which can be visited inside, stands as one of the towers that made part of the mentioned fortification system of the town. As it appears today, it is the result of the modification occurred during the centuries of Spanish domination over the Island.





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