Bastion of Saint Remy: a symbol of Cagliari in the heart of the ancient city
The bastion of Saint Remy is one of the symbolic monuments of Cagliari, an imposing and beautiful building facing Piazza Costituzione at the intersection of the two commercial streets of Via Garibaldi and Via Manno, connecting Castello with the lower part of the ancient city of Casteddu.
Saint Remy is between two of the historical districts of Cagliari Villanova and Castello, built between 1896 and 1902, and is one of the most important forts in Sardinia.
Commonly referred to as “Il Bastione”, it was built at the end of the XIX century on the ancient walls of the medieval city, connecting the three Spanish pre-existing bastions Zecca, Sperone, and Santa Caterina. Saint Remy joins the district Castello with the two lower ones: Villanova and Marina.
The majestic monumental complex owes its name to the first Piedmontese Viceroy Filippo-Guglielmo Pallavicini, Baron of Saint Remy.
The splendid covered promenade and the scenic terrace Umberto I, built on the old bastion of the Spur, were designed in 1896 by the municipal engineers Giuseppe Costa and Fulgenzio Setti on an idea presented already in the mid-nineteenth century by the architect Gaetano Cima.
The long double-ramped staircase, which starts from Piazza Costituzione, marks the entrance to the covered promenade that develops along with Viale Regina Elena. Here the rooms, with bright and cheerful colors, are wide and bright and protected by large arches with fixtures placed only in 1985.
Under the large arch dominating the building, there is another staircase characterized by two circular ramps leading to the famous Umberto I Terrace from which you can enjoy a panoramic view without compare of the city and the beautiful Sardinian sea.
From the large square, two more ramps lead to the bastion of Santa Caterina, where once stood the convent of the Dominicans and a theatre destroyed in 1800 by a fire during the Spanish government. The conspiracy led to the death of the Marquis of Camarassa, Viceroy of Sardinia.
It was July 21st, 1668 when Camarassa was returning home with her family after accepting the invitation of the Marquise of Villasor to attend the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmine. At the height of Via dei Cavalieri, today Via Cannelles, the Viceroy was shot by rifles from the house of the merchant Antioco Brondo.
The culprits were captured and sentenced to death. After the execution, their heads were exposed for many years in a cage that was hung at the Torre dell’ Elefante.
Bastion of Saint Remy: from the beginning of the 20th century to today
Alongside being one of Cagliari’s most representative monuments, it’s also an elegant and glamorous exhibition space in the city center.
The building was inaugurated in 1901 and is an example of neoclassical architecture with capitals in Corinthian style and columns in Pietra Forte, a particular white and yellow limestone found in abundance in the surrounding area.
During the second world war, February 1943, the staircase and the arch of Triumph were severely damaged by the America B-17 bombers which also destroyed other historical and religious buildings, including the Torre dell’ Elefante, the churches of San Giuseppe and Sant’Anna, the Palazzo Valdès and Palazzo Vivanet, the Teatro Civico, the Municipal Library, the Palazzo Civico on the side of Via Crespi, the city market, the Palazzo Villamarina, headquarters of the police station, and the railway station in Via Roma.
Cagliari, along with Naples, was the most bombed Italian city during the Second World War. About 70% of the damaged cultural heritage, over a thousand victims, and more than 40,000 people left homeless.
The stairway and the triumphal arch of the Bastion of Saint Remy were rebuilt after the war, and the covered promenade, inaugurated in 1902, was used in different ways during the twentieth century.
In the beginning, it hosted elegant banquets with the outbreak of the Great War and transformed into an infirmary. During World War II, however, it became the refuge of displaced people who had lost their homes due to Allied bombing.
After the war, the covered walk became the stage of the first Fair of Sardinia.
Today, after a careful restoration, the covered promenade is a cultural space that mainly hosts art exhibitions.