Venture down into the subterranean crypt beneath this majestic church to see where many Catholic martyrs are interred.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria sits above an extraordinary site, a crypt containing the relics of nearly 200 religious martyrs. Venture inside the church to see ancient burial sites, frescos and many other notable works of art.
As you study the building’s exterior, note the mix of architectural styles. There is neo-Romanesque façade, which is based on Pisa Cathedral and baroque additions from 17th and 18th-century renovations. Study the features that date back to its founding, including the steeple and Romanesque side doors.
Appreciate the skill and artistry that went into the making of the cathedral's artworks. Admire the two sculpted pulpits, which were originally made for Pisa Cathedral. Look up at the many frescos adorning the ceiling and stand before the towering and ostentatious mausoleum of Martin I of Sicily. He ruled the island in the late 14th and early 15th centuries.
See the 15th-century panel painting of Pope Clement VII and examine the four marble lions at the foot of the presbytery. View sculptures that depict scenes from the New Testament.
Make your way down the steps by the side of altar. They lead to the fascinating crypt in the cathedral’s basement. Inside the walls are niches containing the remains of 179 martyrs. Spend some time studying the portraits of the deceased and the elaborate carvings on the ceiling.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria is on Piazza Palazzo, close to many bus stops and fascinating landmarks in Cagliari’s historic center. They include San Domenico Church, the San Giuseppe Calasanzio Church and the Royal Palace.
The cathedral is open every day, from morning to evening and admission is free. Be aware that the building closes for a few hours at lunchtimes. After your visit, stop for a drink at one of the cafés on Piazza Palazzo. If you stay until dark, you will see the cathedral bathed in light.