The town is located in the plain of the Tirso River valley, and is on the border of the Barbagia of Ollolai.
The area of Ottana is rich in archaeological findings dating back to early human settlements, as evidenced by the presence of the Domus de Janas, Nuraghi and Tombs of the Giants.
The origins of the town, therefore, date to the initial period of large settlements in central Sardinia, when the Paleo-Sardinian and the Nuragic civilizations were established.
The thermal spa facilities remain from Roman period.
The village developed in the Middle Ages and in the Judicial period, when, as the seat of the “curatoria” or administrative headquarters of the Judicature of Torres by the same name, was at the center of a very populated area.
From 1500, following the relocation of the bishopric until the mid-twentieth century, Ottana had a long period of decline and poverty.
In the 70s, the Ottana area traditionally devoted to agriculture and pastoralism was selected by ENI and other groups, thus becoming the cornerstone of the rising industrialization, hosting large-scale plants for the production of plastics and synthetic fibers.
Today, because of the failure of industrial companies, there is a return to agricultural and handicraft businesses, while at the same time, developing tourism activities.
Not far from the historic center of Ottana, there is a church of significant interest: San Nicola, once an important Cathedral and bishopric of the diocese of Ottana, with jurisdiction over Marghine, Goceano and Dore.
The church dates back to 1150 and has a structure of Romanesque style of blocks of black and purple trachyte, and has apparent Pisan influence. San Nicola houses a crucifix from the sixteenth century and a fourteenth-century altarpiece of Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Nicholas of Bari, which dates back to between 1339 and 1344.