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The Coral of Alghero: all about the red gold of the sea

The Coral of Alghero

The Coral of Alghero is known all over the world for its value and its particular workmanship, which is linked to ancient traditions.

We’re going to tell you everything about the precious “red gold” of Alghero: what is its peculiarity, why it is called this way, how it is worked and, above all, where to find the real thing.

History of Alghero coral

Do you want to know how coral came to be?

Of course we now know that corals are exoskeletons of colonies of sea creatures, but here’s an interesting story about how coral came to be according to ancient peoples.

There are actually several legends about it, but the best known is the one written by Ovid.

The Roman poet spread the belief that coral, with its intense red colour, was born from the blood of the Gorgon beheaded by Perseus.

The Gorgon had the power to literally turn anyone who met her eyes into stone.
So, at the moment of decapitation, the blood ended up dyeing some seaweed red and petrifying them.

A fascinating story, as fascinating as the uses and processing of coral.

Medical uses of coral and amulets

Yes, coral has been used medicinally since Roman times. In particular, coral powder was used to prevent epileptic seizures and nightmares.

Then the rite of the Rosary spread, and coral was used for the production of red beads because of the analogy with the mystical roses of the Marian garden.

Durante il Medioevo il corallo era considerato ancora un amuleto efficace, tuttavia anche questa usanza subì una trasposizione in chiave cristiana e fu adattata al culto come tanti altri elementi della cultura pagana.


Simply said, the cruciform appearance of the branches made it associated with the cross of Christ’s passion, so it was considered a powerful mean of warding off the devil.

Then the rite of the Rosary spread, and coral was used for the production of red beads because of the analo17gy with the mystical roses of the Marian garden.

mediacal use of coral and amulets

An interesting story indeed.

Over time, coral began to be fished in large quantities and could also be used as an ornamental element for valuable everyday objects and jewellery.

Considered precious and endowed with important symbolism, it was called “the red gold of the sea”.

Would you also like to know the history of the Red Gold dispute?

In Sardinia, the precious coral colonies were disputed between Sardinian fishermen and those from Tuscany, Liguria and even Spain!

During the 19th century the Sardinian seas were crowded because of this dispute and Sardinian fishermen’s ships were far outnumbered by those from other regions.

The School of Coral

school of coral in alghero

Abundant fishing and the demand for ornaments and sacred objects made from red coral parts led to the establishment of schools for working with this material in southern Italy.

In Alghero, the School of Coral was officially founded in the 1950s, but the city continues to train young craftsmen specialised in working with this precious material.
For example, the State Institute of Art still has a dedicated course.

Coral artefacts can be very expensive, both because of the workmanship, which requires a great deal of skill and care, and because it is a very special material.

This is why it is considered so valuable:

The characteristics of Alghero Coral

There are two main ones:
The compactness and the colour.

First of all, this coral has a particular compactness that makes it resistant and improves the yield during processing.
It can therefore be carved and engraved to create objects and jewellery with intriguing shapes.

However, the processing steps require a lot of time and dedication on the part of the craftsmen to be carried out in the best possible way.

As for the colour, the main peculiarity is that it is an extremely intense, almost hypnotic red.

But there is more.

It is true that the corals of Alghero are all a beautiful red, but there are differences in shade.

Finding corals of the exact same colour point to create a piece of jewellery, for example, is extremely difficult.

This is why a coral necklace can cost an insane amount of money!

The Alghero Coral Museum

Alghero coral Museum

In Alghero, red coral is a symbol of the city, its culture and traditions.

So much so that in Villa Costantino there is a beautiful Coral Museum where you can trace the history of coral processing, its impact on local culture and also admire amazing temporary exhibitions.

If, on the other hand, you want to visit shops and workshops, you can find many of them strolling through the streets of the city centre, perhaps while on holiday.

Where to stay to visit Alghero

The ideal place for a holiday in Sardinia is one that allows you to visit several cities thanks to its favourable location.

Domus 81 villa sardinia

Surrounded by unspoilt greenery, Domus 81 Luxury Villa is just 10 minutes away from the historic centres of Sassari and Alghero.

It also allows you to reach in a short time many tourist resorts, the most suggestive nuraghi of north-western Sardinia, sports facilities and of course the beautiful beaches of the Sardinian Barceloneta!

Find out more about Domus 81

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