St. Antioco of Bisarcio
The Basilica of St. Antioco of Bisarcio is located on a hill, along the SS 597 from Oschiri to Ploaghe. It was a cathedral until the year 1503 and then a bishopric. The construction work began in 1080 in the Romanesque-Pisan style, and were suspended several times. Workers that took part in the construction were from Pisa, Lombardy and Middle East, but the construction was completed until between 1170 and 1190 by French Burgundy carpenters, who worked on behalf of St. Bernard of Chiaravalle and the Cistercian monks. The church is entirely built with red-brown trachyte. Some parts of the exterior walls, such as the section between the bell tower and the apse, date back to the original construction of the year 1000. It has three naves, with trussed ceiling; the central nave has a semi-circular apse, while the aisles have cross vaults. The three naves are separated by two rows of five columns each, plus a pillar. What we see today is the result of the reconstruction made by the Aragonese in the sixteenth century, when, after the collapse of the left side, it was rebuilt in an asymmetrical way. Among other things, two curiosities: the facade built at the end of the work, was placed against the old Romanesque façade, and the upper part of the tower which is positioned at the end of the right flank, was destroyed by a lightning, and of the majestic square bell tower remains only the lower part.
In our journey through Sardinia, after talking about the Church of Saccargia (see post), we could not forget the many other churches that are part of the cultural heritage and history of this island. In particular, we will talk about Romanesque architecture, which here has had a remarkable development from the earliest origins. In the island in fact, we can find examples of Romanesque style by unprecedented results and with numerous forms, due to the settlement of many religious orders from various Italian regions and from France during the era of Sardinian Giudicati(districts, literally: judgeships). In consequence of that, in the churches of the time, we can recognize the influence of Pisa, Lombardy and Provence in addition to traces of the passage of workers of Arab culture, arrived in Sardinia during the Spanish dominizione. In the Early Middle Ages Sardinia was divided into four kingdoms or Giudicati, ruled by a king or judge, who was the local representative of the Byzantine Emperor, but due to the decline of empire, the island fell out of the sphere of its influence, became independent and the territory was divided into four kingdoms, Cagliari, Arborea, Torres and Gallura, in turn divided into curatorie (main administrative, electoral, fiscal and judicial divisions of Sardinian Giudicati).
Also the territory of the Church was divided and the vast dioceses of the Byzantine era were divided into new ecclesiastical districts: archdiocese and diocese ruled by archbishops and bishops, which ruled the parishes. It was in this context that the judges, through donations, gave stimulus to the revival of culture under the protection of the Holy See, facilitating the arrival in the island of Benedictine monks from various parts of Italy (from Monte Cassino, St. Victor of Marseilles, Camaldoli, Vallombrosa, Citeaux), who here built their monasteries. The increasingly stable and rooted presence of the Republics of Pisa and Genoa often interfered in the political and determined the end of three Giudicati(Cagliari, Torres and Gallura, which after the year 1250 fell into the hands of the lords of Pisa and Genoa) and contributed to the circulation of new artistic currents in the island that left the most important traces in the architectural activity, especially ecclesiastical. Clearly this is only a brief reference to the history of the Sardinian Giudicati, without pretending to be anything more. Our intention is to stimulate your interest in the hope that you will join us on our journey to discover the wonders, whether they are culinary wonders, cultural, scenic and natural wonders of this incredible land, yet to be discovered.
GPS Coordinates: 40.64464, 8.892504
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