One of the oldest churches in Sardinia, the Basilica di San Saturnino is a striking example of Paleo-Christian architecture. Based on a Greek-cross pattern, the domed basilica was built over a Roman necropolis in the 5th century, on the site where Saturninus, a much-revered local martyr, was buried. According to legend, Saturninus was beheaded in AD 304 during emperor Diocletian’s anti-Christian pogroms.
In the 6th century San Fulgenzio da Ruspe, a bishop in exile from Tunisia, built a monastery here. In 1098 this was reworked into the current Romanesque church by a group of Vittorini monks from Marseille. Since then the basilica has undergone various refurbishments, most notably after it was stripped in 1662 to provide building material for the Cattedrale di Santa Maria and, more recently, after it sustained severe bomb damage in WWII.