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Pack Your Shovel! Digging Around For Sardinia’s Ancient Sites

This blog post was updated on October 3, 2018.

Coming upon a lone temple or prehistoric settlement in Sardinia is not a dream. It is just an everyday occurrence for a traveler in search of ancient sites on the island. The second largest island in the Mediterranean sprinkles in the ancients, from those isolated temples to prehistoric defensive towns. Pack your shovel, Indian Jones hat and dig around Sardinia for these ancient sites. Without the crowds of many of Italy’s popular archeological sites, no imagination is necessary to fathom what life was like in ancient Sardinia.

Nora: The ancient city of Nora sits just 30 kilometers west of Cagliari and in close reach of the town of Pula. While in ruins today, some believe this spot to be the first town on the island, founded by the Phoenicians in the 9th century B.C. In fact, the name Sardinia first appeared at the site on a Phoenicians stone. Nora would fall under Carthaginian and Roman rule after the fall of the Phoenician settlement. Today, much of what visitors see are of Roman origins. Set up right on the coastline, you can see thermal bathes, an open theater and a patrician villa complete with intact mosaic flooring. Some of Nora’s remains are even underwater. On a clear day you can spot them beneath the glassy surface.

Fonte Sacra Su Tempiesu: Something straight from a fairytale, Fonte Sacra Su Tempiesu is a nuraghic well. It is its keyhole shaped entrance that lends the feeling of unlocking a secret well. Perched on a hill near Orune, a staircase leads down to the well’s bottom. It remains so intact for a landslide buried it during the Iron Age. The site dates back to 2000 B.C.

Su Nuraxi: Also known as the Barumini Nuraghe, Su Nuraxi is one of Sardinia’s most famous ancient sites. Nuraghi are Bronze Age megalithic towers found all over Sardinia. Many of these towers would surround nuraghic villages like the one in Barumini. Su Nuraxi rests just 65 kilometers north of Cagliari. Named as a Unesco World Heritage site, the ancient settlement is made up of circular defensive towers in the form of truncated cones. Circular residences flow out from the main central tower. The central tower itself is thought to be of 2,000 B.C creation. The remarkable form of prehistoric architecture is said to be unique to Sardinia and presents an otherworldly view of life in prehistoric Sardinia.

Tempio Antas: Just outside of the town of Fluminimaggiore on Sardinia’s southwestern coast, a lone temple stands in splendid isolation. Tempio Antas is a first century B.C. Roman temple, dedicated to Sardus Pater Babai. The Antas Valley was a prized place of worship for both the Carthaginians and the Romans. At the Tempio Antas site, you can get right up on the temple and play god or goddess. A walk on site also leads to the Roman quarry where the rocks used to build the temple were extracted.

Necropoli di Anghelu Ruiu: If you prefer to take your ancient sites underground, you shouldn’t miss the Necropoli di Anghelu Ruiu, just seven kilometers north of Alghero. The ancient burial chambers make up a series of passageways you can wander. There are 38 in total, stemming from 2700 B.C. to 3300 B.C.
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