Situated on the top of a hill is a religious sanctuary known for its art, architecture and important icon of the Virgin Mary.
Pilgrims come from across the globe to worship at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Bonaria. This hilltop shrine is part of a large religious complex that also includes a monastery, museum and basilica. Learn about the legend of its origins, involving a storm at sea and the appearance of an iconic statue, now on display here.
Enter the complex by climbing the wide staircase to the top of the hill. Relish the superb view of the sea and port from this vantage point. Then go to the basilica for its frescos and paintings, including a depiction of the Sacred Family.
Stroll through the cloister to the museum. See models of ships and a golden crown that belonged to Carlo Emmanuel I, a 16th-century duke. Discover insights into the history of the sanctuary. According to legend, a sailing ship lost all its cargo at sea during a violent storm. However, as soon as one wooden crate hit the water, the bad weather ceased. The case washed up at the port of Bonaria and was opened by some friars. Inside, they found a statue of the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus in one hand and a lighted candle in the other.
Go to the 14th-century shrine to see the statue. The icon is carved out of wood and is situated in the apse behind the high altar. Look at the statue of the Madonna of the Miracle that has been here since 1325, when the shrine was constructed. Observe the ivory boat hanging above the altar. This is one of the sanctuary's many ex-votos, an offering made to a saint.
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Bonaria is less than 2 miles (3 kilometers) south of the center of Cagliari. The shrine is next to the Special Agency International Trade Fair and a large military center. Take the tram to the Repubblica stop, which is just a few blocks north of the church.
The complex is open every day, from morning to evening, but is closed for a few hours in the middle of the afternoon. There is no admission fee, although the basilica accepts donations.