The Church of Santa Maria represents the heart of the traditions of Sassari. On August 14th, after a long and exhausting procession carrying huge decorated wooden pillars representing candles, members of the Gremi (Guilds) enter the church proudly, with their votive candles. A religious observance since the Middle Ages, this is the festival of the Candlesticks, which fulfills a promise made to the Virgin Mary of the Assumption for having saved the city from the plague.
The simple facade of the structure on the outside hides the magnificent art and historical richness that lies inside the Church. Founded in the Roman Age, with the arrival of Franciscan monks during the thirteenth century it was extended, adapting it to the new Gothic Cistercian canons typical of the area around Tuscany and Umbria. After the Aragonese conquest, the nave and on the short transept of the church was enlarged and a series of little side chapels were added. The construction of a new dome led to the transformation of the church in the first half of the nineteenth century. The monastery complex was built a couple of years later and filled with exquisite architectural and decorative elements, still visible today. It's impossible to ignore the fourteenth century polychrome Catalan wooden statue of the Virgin of Bethlehem, also called Virgin of the Rose.
From the sacristy you can access the cloister, dating from the thirteenth century, in which you can admire the fountain known as the Brigliadore.References:
Roman Walls of Lugo are an exceptional architectural, archaeological and constructive legacy of Roman engineering, dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. The Walls are built of internal and external stone facings of slate with some granite, with a core filling of a conglomerate of slate slabs and worked stone pieces from Roman buildings, interlocked with lime mortar.
Their total length of 2117 m in the shape of an oblong rectangle occupies an area of 1.68 ha. Their height varies between 8 and 10 m, with a width of 4.2 m, reaching 7 m in some specific points. The walls still contain 85 external towers, 10 gates (five of which are original and five that were opened in modern times), four staircases and two ramps providing access to the walkway along the top of the walls, one of which is internal and the other external. Each tower contained access stairs leading from the intervallum to the wall walk of town wall, of which a total of 21 have been discovered to date.
The defences of Lugo are the most complete and best preserved example of Roman military architecture in the Western Roman Empire.
Despite the renovation work carried out, the walls conserve their original layout and the construction features associated with their defensive purpose, with walls, battlements, towers, fortifications, both modern and original gates and stairways, and a moat.
Since they were built, the walls have defined the layout and growth of the city, which was declared a Historical-Artistic Ensemble in 1973, forming a part of it and becoming an emblematic structure that can be freely accessed to walk along. The local inhabitants and visitors alike have used them as an area for enjoyment and as a part of urban life for centuries.
The fortifications were added to UNESCO"s World Heritage List in late 2000 and are a popular tourist attraction.