Oristano was previously known by the Byzantines as Aristanis. It acquired importance in 1070, when, as a result of the frequent Saracen attacks, Archbishop Torcotorio made it the seat of the bishopric, which was previously in the nearby coastal town of Tharros. It also became the capital of the giudicato (“judiciary”, equivalent to a Duchy or Kingdom) of Arborea.
In medieval times Oristano vied for power over the whole island of Sardinia, and therefore waged wars against the other Sardinian kingdoms which culminated in the attempt to conquer the whole island during the reign (1347–75) of Mariano IVand that of his son Hugh III (1376–1383) and his daughter Eleanor (1383–1404). The giudicato of Arborea held out to be the last Sardinian kingdom (Giudicato) to cease to exist in 1420, about 10 years after the battle of Sanluri.
The main sight of the city is the Tower of St. Christophoros, otherwise known as Tower of Mariano II, was built in 1290, is 19 metres (62 ft) tall and the most striking remaining evidence of the old walls built at the time of the Giudicato, as it was one of the main gates thereof.
Also important are the St. Mary’s Cathedral (1130) which was rebuilt during the reign of Mariano II after being destroyed in a siege and the Church of St. Francis of Assisi which was built around 1200 and is currently in neo-classical style.
The main event of the city is Sa Sartiglia.
The beautiful beaches of the Sinis can be reached with a quick drive.
Also noticeable is the town of Cabras, few kilometres north of Oristano