Castello (Casteddu de Susu in Sardinian, in Italian Castello Superiore) is the main of the four historic districts of the city of Cagliari. It rises in a predominant position, on a limestone hill, about one hundred meters above sea level.
The district was founded in the thirteenth century by the Pisans, who fortified it, providing it with walls, towers and bastions and transferred the headquarters of civil, military and religious power from the Judicial capital of Santa Igia, which they themselves had previously destroyed, decreeing the end of the Giudicato of Càlari.
Since then, under every domination, from the Pisan (XIII - XIV century), to the Aragonese-Spanish (XIV - XVIII century) and Piemontese (XVIII - XIX century), up to the second post-war period, the Castello district hosted the palaces of the power and noble residences, so as to identify with the city itself, which, in fact, in Sardinian is called Casteddu. The neighbourhood is still accessed through the ancient medieval gates, open in the walls that still surround most of the perimeter of the Castle, isolating it from the rest of the city.
The walls that run around the perimeter of the ancient Castello district include the Elephant tower and that of San Pancrazio.
The Castle currently houses important institutions, such as the Prefecture and the Council Hall of the Metropolitan City of Cagliari in the premises of the Royal palace, located in Palazzo Square.
The Parish of Castello is dedicated to Saint Cecilia and has its seat in the Cathedral Church, the main church of the Archdiocese of Cagliari, also in Palazzo Square.
The University of Cagliari also has its headquarters in the Castle, in the eighteenth-century building which houses the offices of the Rectorate.
The Castello district offers various reasons for a visit, both for the numerous historical and artistic testimonies that are found there, and for perhaps the most suggestive places, which are found along the narrow streets, the stairs, the small squares that open, like terraces , on beautiful views and overlook the dark hallways of the buildings, once sumptuous noble residences and today often with decadent charm.
By visiting the churches that are not even visible from the outside, you will notice interesting works of art inside them.
The Castello district is composed of civil and military architecture: fortifications such as towers, the Elephant Tower with the access door to the neighbourhood from Stampace; the Tower of Saint Pancrazio; the Tower of the Eagle, also from the beginning of the 14th century, incorporated today in the Boyl Palace, still constitutes an access to Castello from the south, from the Marina district, via the “Arcade of the Graces”.
In addition there are the Bastion of Saint Remy, which, through its monumental staircase, directly connects Castello and Villanova and incorporates the ancient Bastions of the Mint and Saint Caterina’s; The former Saint Carlo’s barracks, an area known as the "Jewish Ghetto"; the Buoncammino Prison, the district house of the city throughout the twentieth century, until the end of 2014; the historic buildings of the main Sardinian authorities and noble families, including: the Palazzo Regio; the former City Palace; The Archiepiscopal Palace; the “Palazzo delle Seziate”, the University Palace; the Conservatory of the Daughters of Providence, formerly a college for nobles and in the nineteenth century the seat of a charitable institution for orphans, its large neoclassical facade dominates the east side of Independence Square, abandoned since the end of the twentieth century; the Boyl Palace.
There also are numerous elements that make up religious architecture: Square Palace, view of the Cathedral, with the neo-Romanesque facade and the imposing thirteenth-century bell tower. There are currently seven churches in the district: the cathedral church; four churches of Castello, built in the 16th century, which testify to the Aragonese Gothic style: the church of the Purissima; the church of Santa Lucia; the church of the Madonna della Speranza, noble chapel of the Aymerich marquis of Laconi; the church of Saint Maria del Monte, formerly the oratory of the oldest confraternity in Cagliari, dissolved in the 19th century, now the seat of the military Sovereign Order of Malta.
In Baroque style, however, we have: the basilica of Saint Croce, of the Order of Saints Maurizio and Lazzaro and the church of Saint Giuseppe Calasanzio, formerly the church of the Piarists.
Some remains of the church of the monastery of Saint Caterina are still preserved, destroyed at the end of the 19th century to make room for the present elementary school of the same name. Under the school building, the crypt of the monastery should still be found, where the nuns used to bury the deceased sisters. Not far away, under the pavement of the terrace of the bastion of Saint Caterina, following recent excavations for maintenance works, rooms have been found, probably referable to a church building dating back to the thirteenth century.
Finally, we recall the two vast complexes of the Jesuit College, at the Basilica of Holy Cross, an eighteenth-century building partly used today by the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Cagliari and the “College of the Scolopi”, a nineteenth-century building now home to the State Art School.
Most of the museums of Castello and Cagliari itself are currently housed in the premises of the modern museum complex known as the Citadel of Museums; in this complex of constructions, built in the seventies of the twentieth century on the area that hosted the Royal Arsenal, there are:
The Archaeological Museum.
The National Picture Gallery.
The Clemente Susini Museum of Anatomical Waxes.
The "Cardu" Museum of Siamese Art.
Furthermore, the Citadel of Museums organizes interesting temporary exhibitions and other cultural events.
In addition, in the renovated rooms of Fossario street, near the Cathedral, there is the Museum of the Cathedral, which houses the Treasury of the Cathedral, while the Sardinian Luigi Piloni Collection is housed in the University Palace.
Enchanting and fascinating there are numerous streets and squares not to be missed, both for their historical-artistic value and because they are part of the famous shopping streets.