(Photo by sardiniapost.it)
On the left bank of what is the largest Sardinian river, the Tirso, near its mouth rises the town of Oristano. The origin of its name is uncertain: some attribute it to the word "arista" (ear), because of its rich soil suitable for cultivation, some others to the alteration of the word "auristatmnum" and some to the meeting of the Greek paola "oros" and pond, of which the fertile plain is rich. Or it probably took its name from the princess Aristana who moved there from Tharros and founded the colony.
It was transformed from a small village into an important center when in 1070 it was elected capital of the Giudicato d'Arborea after the now-decayed Tharros was abandoned due to Saracen raids. The new town was in fact more protected due to natural barriers such as the ponds of Santa Giusta and the bifurcation of the Tirso River, which pass one to the north and one to the south of the town. During the Middle Ages there were numerous wars between the Arborensians and the other Sardinian kingdoms; between the 13th and 14th centuries the city's fortifications were improved by raising the city walls by fifteen meters and building some 28 towers.
It was acquired by the Aragonese in 1420, who turned it into a marquisate. The title of marquis of Oristano still belongs to the King of Spain.
Like the rest of the island from 1720 it passed into the hands of the Savoy family.
THINGS TO SEE
Around Oristano, various sites of archaeological interest include Tharros and the giants of Monte Prama in the municipality of Cabras, the tombs of the giants of Goronna, the Lugherras nuraghe and the Sanctuary of Santa Cristina in Paulilatino, the nuraghe of Elighe Onna, Zuras and Losa in Abbasanta, and the hot springs of Fordongianus.
Numerous, on the other hand, are the civil architectures such as the city walls with their defensive towers and 28 four-sided towers; among the most important are the Tower of Portixedda and the Tower of Mariano II or Tower of San Cristoforo, which was one of the four gateways to the city. It is 19 meters high and built with sandstone bricks from Tharros. There are also many important buildings such as the Palazzo Giudicale (former prison), Eleonora's House along Parpaglia Street, Palazzo d'Arcais now the seat of the Province, and in Piazza Eleonora we find Palazzo Carta, the Casa della Ciudad and Palazzo degli Scolopi now the seat of the municipality.
In the square of the same name you will also find the Statue of Eleonora d'Arborea inaugurated in 1881. An important visit to the Antiquarium arborense museum, which preserves archaeological artifacts from the nuraghi in the area and the city of Tharros and important Spanish handicrafts from the 15th-16th centuries.
In Baroque-Rococo style is the church and cloister of the Carmine while the Church of St. Francis is in neoclassical style. The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta houses some medieval sculptures. It was destroyed during a siege, and of the original structure the chapel, apse bases and bell tower remain. The Gothic cathedral was torn down in 1700 to make way for a Baroque one.
The beaches of Maimoni and San Giovanni di Sinis and Torregrande are particular. In the direction of Cuglieri we find the beautiful S’Archittu beach beach famous for the splendid arch carved by the sea.
On the last Sunday and Shrove Tuesday, the Sartiglia equestrian joust takes place, organized by Oristano's two oldest Gremi: the peasants who ride on Sunday and the carpenters on Tuesday. Through selections, 40 pariglie composed of 120 riders participate. "Su Componidori" is the head runner. His peculiarity lies in the fact that from the moment he wears the special mask, it cannot touch the ground until the end of the event. According to tradition, a fall from his horse would bring misfortune and famine. Each horseman takes a run-up along the cathedral street "seu de Santa Maria" and with his sword he runs up to a star hanging from a ribbon, placed about halfway along the route, with the intention of stabbing it. The greater the number of stars conquered, the better the auspiciousness of luck and fertility of the fields in the new year.