Stairway of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Bonaria

PlaceCagliari, Piazza Bonaria, 2

Author: Adriano Cambellotti, Lucio Cambellotti

Chronology: 1960 | 1967

Itinerary: Architecture for the community

Use: urban public space

Our Lady of Bonaria’s stairway is the result of a competition announced in 1960 and won by the Roman architects Adriano and Lucio Cambellotti. The stairway goes up the hill on which stands the Basilica of the same name, a place of popular devotion that overlooks the sea. The church’s history dates back to the time of the Aragonese rule in Sardinia; given her great popularity, the Madonna di Bonaria was elected Patrona Maxima of Sardinia.

The Cambellotti brothers’ project refers to the landscape of Sardinian coasts, characterized by an uninterrupted kaleidoscope of shapes sculpted by wind and water on the emerged rocks. The architects built a real palimpsest that replicates the material through a concrete conglomerate mixed with granite and limestone chips, used to build the retaining walls that separate the long marble steps from the green islands through which rises the path to the Basilica.

The construction started in 1962 and the stairway was opened to the public in 1967, after some interruptions. An extension project in the late eighties included a larger area, stretching up to Viale Colombo and down to the sea.

The stairway is impressive, long and plastic. Rather than resorting to a mirrored symmetry, it is articulated in masses. When ascending it, we find gardens and paths that, with their rhapsodic progress allow a constantly varied reading and a gradual discovery of the Basilica façade.

The path system that departs from the main ramp ideally connects the church to its surroundings, also opening in descent to unprecedented relationships with the surrounding urban landscape.

Text Donatella Scatena
Photos by Stefano Ferrando