In Sant’Antioco in the old town is located the Basilica of Sant’Antioco. It is a must see in the island because of its beauty and to understand the story of the place. It is a quite complex building, built around a central core consisting of the primitive martyrium dating back to the fourth century.
Here were preserved and found the remains of Saint Antiochus, the Saint patron of Sardinia. The church was later restored by a certain Bishop Peter in the sixth century as a result of a collapse of the dome.
After the sixth and until the twelfth century there hasn’t been no historical information about the place due to lack of documents. The first news after this period of dark history, date back to 1089 when the Cathedral of Sant’Antioco was entrusted to the monks Vittorini by Pope Urban II. What is certain is that in 1102 the church was consecrated as evidenced in a parchment found under the sacred stone altar.
Today the basilica is incorporated by the former municipal building to the north and east and by the rectory to the east. It remains the nineteenth century facade that overlooks the square of the church. The current layout is derived from the work of restoration and enlargement by the monks Vittorini. The main facade, the stretch of the nave and smaller rooms for the first arch are additions dating from the eighteenth century, as evidenced by the different wall texture than the rest of the basilica.
The most interesting and fascinating parts are the inside and the Catacombs. Professional guides will lead you through the journey of the hidden world of Sant’Antioco’s church and its history. Even my 3 years old daughter was fascinated by the visit and asked for more details.
The catacombs of Sant’Antioco are unique in Sardinia. They were used from the fourth to the seventh century AD and built below the current basilica Sant’Antioco Martyr. The catacombs thus consist of pre-existing structures adapted, differently from what is typical for this type of places. The tombs were made up of several rooms all oriented in different directions. At the center of the entrance is the sarcophagus containing the remains of Sant ‘Antioco, discovered in 1615. Below the church there is another core catacomb, accessible by a small flight of steps near post to the right of the church. It is a small catacomb, consisting of two Punic tombs and a sarcophagi of Santa Rosa, other holy that was believed martyrised in Sardinia.
Don’t miss the visit and discover also the underground village of Sant’Antioco!