Eleonora Giudicessa d’Arborea and her churches

In 1376, the eldest son of Mariano IV, Ugone III de Bas-Serra, rose to the Arborean throne. A valent man of action, he gave proof of remarkable legislative skills, issuing several ordinances for the city of Sassari and exacerbating some penalties contained in the Carta de Logu.

Ugone III was assassinated in 1383 during a riot, together with his only daughter Benedetta. Following the incident, she was called to govern her sister, Eleonora de Bas-Serra, who around 1376 had married the Genoese Brancaleone Doria. Two sons were born from the marriage with nobleman Doria, Federico and Mariano. Eleonora reigned as “regent” Giudice and not by right, as foreseen by the Sardinian medieval legislation, in the name and on behalf of the minor children.

The Itinerary

The itinerary includes a visit to the places that testify to the glorious Giudicale Middle Ages of Oristano. Starting from the Church and Hospital of Sant’Antonio, belonging to the XIV century, continuing to the Church of San Francesco, at the turn of the XIII-XIX centuries, the Cathedral Church of Santa Maria Assunta, dating back to the XIV-XVIII centuries, the Church of Santa Chiara, from the 14th century, the Piazza de Sa Majoria, from the 13th century, that is the current Piazza Manno, where the Giudicale Castle, the Tower of San Filippo and the Porta Mari were located and the Church of San Martino, from the 13th century extra muros, it is possible to recall facts and characters of one of the most prosperous ages of the city. Evidence of the Giudicato period carved in the stones of the churches, such as the tombstone of Filippo Mameli in the Cathedral and the epigraph of Costanza di Saluzzo in the church of Santa Chiara, join the medieval symbols represented by the walls and towers still intact.


Church and Monaster of San Francesco

📍 Via Duomo, 10

The convent of San Francesco, mentioned in the will of the Giudice of Arborea Ugone II of 1335, witnessed important historical moments in the political and religious life of the Giudicato of Arborea. Indeed, the highest authorities of the Arborean kingdom used to meet in the refectory of the friars, and in the same hall, the peace treaty was signed in 1388 between Eleonora and the Catalan-Aragonese king. Within the church finds shelter a famous crucifix, known as Nicodemus, a polychrome sculpture, believed to be mostly of the Valencian school and certainly of Rhenish inspiration, dated 1300.


Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta

📍 Piazza Duomo 

A fine specimen of suburban Cathedral, built on a pre-existing Byzantine church dedicated to the Archangel Michael, the Duomo della Vergine Assunta now also features part of the funerary area annexed to the ancient church. The first document certifying the existence of this church dedicated to Santa Maria is dated February 20th, 1192. The current Duomo, built within it according to the customs of elegant Piedmont Baroque in the years 1729-1745, houses the chapel with the relics of Sant’Archelaus, patron of the city and of the diocese.


Church of S. Chiara

📍 Via Santa Chiara

The Santa Chiara church and convent complex, built in 1343 by King Pietro III of Arborea, was built on the pre-existing church of San Vincenzo. Within the church, an important Latin epigraph documents the burial of Costanza di Saluzzo, widow of sovereign Peter III, who died on February 18th, 1348. The apse and plenty of remains of its sides and of the ancient monastery, in their Gothic form, are stored within the church. Within the arch of the apse, emblems of the ruling family (the eradicated tree) alternating with state symbols (the poles of Aragon) are still evident. Inside there is a fragment of a fresco reproducing Mariano IV, placing his eldest son Ugone III under the protection of the Saint, as well as the reused marble plaque where the aforementioned funerary epigraph is carved.



Piazza de Sa Majoria

📍 Piazza Manno

This is where the Arborense kings of Oristano once resided. The royal palace was divided into different sectors, one of which was reserved exclusively for the private residence of the Giudice and his family, and another for representation and offices. From the comparative examination of documentary material, it is clear that the piazza de sa Majoria was accessible through two doors, one below the tower of San Filippo and another one, Porta Mari, not far away, along the curtain wall headed north-west. The door located under the tower of San Filippo allowed for direct communication with the castle of the judges. The castle and the adjacent Porta Mari, later used as barracks and prison, were demolished in the early 1900s in order to make way for judicial prisons in the current Piazza Manno.



Church of San Martino

📍 Via San Martino

The church, of medieval origins as indicated by the Giudicati coats of arms, showing the Aragon poles next to the uprooted Arborea tree carved in a capital, appears for the first time in a donation deed dated 1228 by the Giudice of Arborea Pietro II and his wife Diana. On March 29th, 1410, this sacred building welcomed the drafting of the Treaty of Peace of San Martino, with which the Kingdom of Aragon, winner in the bloody battle of Sanluri in 1409, decreed the de facto end of the Giudicato of Arborea. The church is located next to what used to be a Benedictine convent, later a Dominican, and probably also a school and then a hospital with the order of the Hospitallers. Inside is the chapel of the Madonna del Rosario, which in ancient times, housed those sentenced to death the night before their execution.


Eleonora's House

📍 Via San Martino

The current Via Parpaglia is the location of “Casa di Eleonora” (Eleonora’s House), a building that owes this name as it is traditionally believed to date back to the Giudicato period. Actually, it is one a rare example of civil architecture erected at the end of the sixteenth century, and particularly significant one, as it is linked to a moment of building stagnation, which saw Oristano in a phase of unstoppable decline. Its long façade is crossed by a projecting frame articulated on two different levels, with the windows of the main floor set on it with exhibits carved in green trachytic stone. Those in the lower area have slender semi-columns, with a carving that repeats vase-shaped knots faced with one another and decorated with pods, similar to those of the triangular tympanum resting on phytomorphic capitals.



Statua di Eleonora d'Arborea

📍 Piazza Eleonora 

The most representative square of the Arborean city, located in the heart of the historic center, has a classicist imprint typical of the first half of the nineteenth century. Some of the most significant buildings in the city overlook it. Such as the complesso architettonico degli Scolopi (now used as the Civic Palace) at the north, the elegant palazzo Corrias-Carta at the Corso Umberto I corner, and the former municipal building (now used as the seat of the municipal technical office). On the opposite side stands the eighteenth-century Palazzo Mameli, worthy of a mention due to its refined wrought iron balconies. The center of the square is populated by the monumento a Eleonora d’Arborea, an academic and celebratory work from two Florentine artists, sculptor Ulisse Cambi and architect Mariano Falcini. The statue of the Giudicessa was inaugurated on May 22nd, 1881.