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Saint Julian’s church

In a welcoming garden with olive trees, berries and aromatic herbs, lies the small and charming Church of San Giuliano. It was built in Romanesque style probably by the Vittorini monks between the XII and the XIII centuries over a pre-existing structure which dates back to the ancient Roman period.

The entrance has a 1600s porch with three arcades with marble columns, capitals in Corinthians style (I century B.C.) and side pillars carved with flower motives and likely reused from old nearby roman bathhouses. On the left side, a glass floor protects a medieval tomb discovered during the archeological investigations of the 1980s. The archeologists also found additional tombs and funereal artifacts dating back to different ancient periods. The most important artifact found is the Signa Apostolorum, a lead plaque carved with the images of the Saints Peter and Paul. This artifact is very unique and the only one of this kind found in Sardinia.

The entrance porch has a lunette with two small images of an ox and a ram carved in stone. Past this, there is an intimate space with columns and capitals laid out in a very harmonic way.

The church has a longitudinal plan with three naves. The central nave has a pitched timber roof with two sloping planes and carved juniper wood. The two side naves have a straw pitched roof.

Some interior walls are decorated with hunting scenes painted with red colors. It is thought that originally this artwork created a longer sequence that was running all along the central nave. This may help in confirming the dedication of this church to Saint Giuliano.

The apse at the back of the church is decorated with a single arch window carved with a pelican bird, which the early Christians adopted to symbolize the sacrifice of Christ.

Most of the church’s sacred artifacts were lost, except a holy water stoup dated back to 1664 and three wood sculptures of a sacred cross (XV or XVI century), a Madonna with Child (possibly the same one mentioned in a church document of 1604) and a XIX century statue of San Giuliano riding a horse.

The adjacent house of the Collu family features a large oil canvas painted in 1785 by the artist Michele Medici. It portrays the Virgin Mary with Child and a group of angels giving a rosary to Saint Domenic and San Julian while six repentant members of the Confraternity of the Rosary look on. Since the 1600 the church became the headquarters of the Confraternity as depicted by the silver emblems of the Majorales in the left nave. These was adorned by the images od Saint Julian and the Virgin of the Rosary.

The exterior part of the apse show some traces of red paint, probably what remains of an original artwork painted on the exterior stone. The side walls are decorated with double arches supported by capitals carved with geometric figures, animals and plants. Two of these figures represents a man with three legs (in Sardinian: “s’omini a tres gambas”), an ancient pagan symbol of fertility and a falcon, which in the mediaeval times was a symbol of pleasure and hunting, thus symbolizing a lifestyle contrary to the traditional monastic vows.

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