Alghero is the third university center in the island, coming after Cagliari and Sassari. It hosts the headquarters of the Università degli Studi di Sassari’s Architecture and Design department. In 2012 it was the 10th most visited city by tourists in Italy.
A dialect of Catalan is spoken in Alghero, introduced when Catalans settled in the town. Catalan was replaced as the official language of the Island by Spanish in the 17th century, then by Italian. The most recent linguistic research showed that 24,1% of the people have Algherese Catalan as a mother tongue, which is habitually spoken by 18,5% and taught to the children by 8% of the population, whereas 88,2% have some understanding of the language. Since 1997 Catalan has had official recognition and national and regional laws grant its right to be used in the city. Currently, there has been a revival of the arts in Algherese Catalan, with singers such as Franca Masu performing original compositions in the language.
Following a rural exodus from the surrounding villages towards the city, much of the population speaks or has some proficiency in Sardinian, in addition to Italian and Catalan. Historically, the spread of Catalan was limited to the city and part of the coast, as the surrounding countryside has always been populated by Sardinian-speaking people.
Moreover, the ancient part of Alghero shows many characteristics of Catalan medieval architecture. The ‘algueresos’ (Alghero inhabitants) usually refer to their city as ‘Barceloneta’ – little Barcelona – because of their ancestry and fraternity with the Catalan capital.
The many historical dominances occurred in Alghero have created a rich variety of monuments, buildings and sights. Back from the Neolithic period from which many settlements remain, up to nowadays, in the last decades Alghero has become a touristic main point not only because of its coast and natural beauties but also because of a fairly well preserved patrimony.
Several archeological sites out of the urban area: the Anghelu Ruju necropolis, the Santu Pedru hill, the Villa Romana of Santa Imbenia or even the Purissima. Many nuraghi in some other points as Palmavera are also well preserved and open to visit.
The first ramparts system looks back to the 13th century and was imported from the Genovese system. In 1354 the city was occupied by Catalans, who restored and expanded the defensive system, back then in bad condition. Some features from the old walls were respected, but Ferdinand the Catholic, who wanted to grant more protection to the city, built the majority of them in the 16th Century. Along the walls 7 towers and 3 forts are found.
The coral of Alghero, is known as among the finest in the Mediterranean and the world for the particular reputation of quantity, quality, compression and the ruby red color, much to remember one of the most important economic aspects of the territory, also called the Riviera del Corallo, and have in his coat of arms a branch of the precious red coral on a foundation of rock. For the particular combination with the jewelery and goldsmith craft is also called red gold so much so that it is sold at the same price of the precious metal.
Another of Alghero features is its landscape. It has several beaches, bays and natural parks on the shoreline. Capo Caccia promontory and its lighthouse are landmarks.
Alghero is well-connected. Roads lead to Sassari, the province’s capital. The main port for passengers is 30 kilometers away and Alghero – Fertilia airport has national and international flights.
Strada statale 127bis Settentrionale Sarda, leading to Porto Conte (north) and Sassari (east). Strada statale 291 della Nurra, from Fertilia to Sassari. Strada provinciale 42 dei Due Mari, reaching the port in Porto Torres. Strada provinciale 105 Alghero-Bosa, panoramical road, it starts in the southern part of Alghero and goes along the shore to Bosa. Strada statale 291 dir del Calich, assuring the connection to and from the airport.
Alghero has a train station in the Pietraia neighborhood, Sant’Agostino, with daily trains to Sassari.
There is a pleasure and fishing port in the heart of the city. Passenger traffic is handled by Porto Torres, some 30 kilometers north. There are ferry services from there to Genoa, Barcelona and Civitavecchia.
The Alghero-Fertilia "Riviera del Corallo" Airport is 10 kilometers from the centre near Fertilia. It’s the principal connection with the rest of Italy and Europe. There is hourly bus service to Fertilia and the centre of Alghero.
In the 1930s the Swedish writer Amelie Posse Brazdova wrote a book entitled Sardinia Side Show, where she told the complete story of two years she spent "interned" in Alghero old town during World War I.