Alghero

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Alghero (l'Alguer [ɫəɫˈɣe] in Catalan and S'Alighèra in Sardinian), is a town of about 44,000 inhabitants in Italy. It lies in the province of Sassari in northwestern Sardinia, next to the sea.

Contents

History

The area of today's Alghero has been settled since pre-historic times. The so-called Ozieri culture was present here in the 4th millennium BC while the Nuraghe civilisation was present in the area around 1500 BC, as traces of Phoenician buildings have been found not far from the city.

Due to its strategic position in the Mediterranean Sea, Alghero was built around a fortified port, founded around 1102 by the Genoese Doria family. The Doria ruled it for centuries, apart from a brief period under the rule of Pisa (1283–1284). In 1353 it was captured by the Aragonese under Bernardo de Cabrera, and could later grow thanks to the arrival of Catalan colonists. In the early 16th century Alghero received the status of King's City (ciutat de l'Alguer) and developed economically.

The Catalano-Aragonese were followed by the Spanish Habsburgs, whose dominion, ending in 1702, brought some stylish elegance to the city. In 1720 Alghero and Sardinia were handed over to the Piedmont based House of Savoy. Around 1750 a wide channel was excavated to improve the defensive position of the peninsula. In 1821 famine led to a revolt of the population, which was bloodily suppressed. At the end of the same century Alghero was de-militarised and, during the Fascist era, part of the surrounding marshes was reclaimed and the suburbs of Fertilia and S.M. La Palma were founded. During World War II (1943) Alghero was bombed, and its historical centre suffered heavy damage. The presence of malaria in the countryside was finally overcome in the 1950s.

Since then, Alghero has bacome a popular tourist resort.

Language

A minority of people in Alghero speak a Catalan dialect, introduced when Catalan invaders repopulated the town after capturing the city from the Genoese in 1353 and subsequently expelling the Sardinian population. Catalan was replaced as the official language by Spanish in the 17th century, then by Italian. The most recent linguistic research conducted showed that 22.4% of the population speak Algherese Catalan as a first language and around 90% have some understanding of the language.

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