Ottana is a small town (about 2300 inhabitants), located near the mountains of the province of Nuoro. The main activity of the past was sheep farming; in the last centuries agricultural, handicraft and industrial activities have also developed.

The tradition

We arrive at Ottana almost by chance, during a travel in central Sardinia and we found, along the road from Bolotana, a curious monument… It is a statue, over 3 meters high, which represents the two most famous local masks, of the agro-pastoral tradition. On one side there is the figure of the Boe, which represents the ox and, more generally, the animals; on the other the one of the Merdule, which represents the guardian of the animals.

Ottana, Boe and Merdule statue

These masks appear in the village shows, during the carnival period, and we have already met them also during other parades in Sardinia; in fact, we saw them parading at the Orani Carnival and the Sardinian Cavalcade. In Ottana, however, there is another monument much older and extremely fascinating… A little treasure that we meet a few hundred meters ahead…

The treasure of Ottana: the ex-cathedral

The church of San Nicola stands on a beautiful grassy hill in the center of the village, which is accessible thanks to a staircase. It was a cathedral until the year 1503, dedicated to San Nicola di Mira and characterized by a dark brown color, deriving from the use of the trachytic stone. Undoubtedly it is a splendid church, silent, simple and suggestive, in Romanesque style, with a single nave.

Ottana, the church upon the hill
Ottana, the ex-cathedral
Ottana, Church of San Nicola images

Inside the church are the beautiful wooden crucifix of the sixteenth century, a pulpit with Romanesque capitals and, in the north transept, the painting called the “Pala di Ottana” or “Pala dei Santi Francesco d’Assisi e Nicola di Bari”. This work was realized on a table with a golden background, probably by the “Maestro delle Tempere Francescane”, Neapolitan painter of the fourteenth century; The painting depicts scenes of life of St. Nicholas and St. Francis.
We have led you here and… this is the start of the exploration! Here below, thanks to the virtual tour, you can move around the church and discover it… So, have a good tour!

virtual tour

The Author

Explorer and discoverer in the island of Sardinia. Author of the travel blog Sardinia 4 Emotions, to share emotions and experiences of this magic land.