Santa Croce’s Basilica

La Basilica di Santa Croce

When you walk along the bastion of Santa Croce, leaving the Tower of the Elephant behind, you can’t help being attracted by the wonderful bird’s eye view of the city of Cagliari.

As you approach the ghetto of the Jews, you might hardly notice Santa Croce’s basilica, hidden as it is in a tight widening surrounded by houses concealing it to the eyesight of careless tourists.

It’s not easy to take a picture of the whole facade, as you can only move a few steps away. When you go up the six steps which lead to the forecourt, you realize you are in front of a stately Church, and once you are inwards you will be surprised by the wide size of the interior which contrasts its less visible outside, set among the houses of the Jewish quarter.

The story of this basilica is linked to the history of the area where it is situated. The church was built on an ancient synagogue. In 1492 Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabel of Castile decided to issue a decree of expulsion for all the Jews and Muslims who would not accept to convert their belief to Christianity. Then the Jews were sent away from Cagliari and the synagogue, that stood in the so called  “giudaria” (jewish area) of the Castle, was soon converted into a catholic church and was dedicated to Santa Croce.

Although this episode might be considered in the negative, five centuries later some inhabitants of the area of Castello, recall it in a positive way, that is they think this holy place is the symbol of the integration of two different religions.