Wednesday, 14 March 2012



Cagliari  is the capital of the island of Sardinia, a region of Italy. Cagliari's Sardinian name Casteddu literally means castle. It has about 156,000 inhabitants, or about 480,000 including the outlying townships. An ancient city with a long history, Cagliari has seen the rule of several civilizations. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Sardinia (which in the 1861 became the Kingdom of Italy) from 1324 to 1720 and from 1798 to 1815. Seat of the important University of Cagliari and the Primate Roman Catholic archdiocese of Sardinia, the city is an important regional cultural, educational, political and artistic centre, known for its diverse Art Nouveau architecture and several monuments. It is also Sardinia's economic and industrial hub, having one of the biggest ports in the Mediterranean sea. 

Under the name of Karalis it was established around the 7th century BC as one of a string of Phoenician colonies in Sardinia. It passed, with the rest of the island, first to the control of Carthage and then to Rome in 238 BC when the Romans defeated the Carthaginians. 

Cagliari is the entry point to Sardinia for many people who come for their holidays and has something to offer visitors with widely different interests. Besides its crystal-clear sea water and one of the most beautiful and longest beaches in the Mediterranean, Cagliari offers an unspoiled natural environment consisting of lagoons, bird sanctuaries and wildlife reserves which are unique in Europe.

Cagliari offers museums and monuments, architecture and archaeological wonders which the different cultures that passed through or occupied Cagliari throughout its history have left behind. The Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals and the people from Byzantine, Pisa, Genoa, Aragona, Catalan, Spain and Piedmont have all left their mark on this ancient city.

There are many different routes that a tourist can follow to discover Cagliari. The route chosen will depend on how much time the visitor has, on the type of transport the visitor uses but most of all on the visitor's personal interests and preferences. For a brief tour a walk along via Roma and a visit to Castello in the historic old town, while people who are interested in art, architecture and archaeology can linger at the various sites along the route and visit the National Picture Galleries.

If you walk around the old historical quarters of the city, preferably with a good guidebook, you can easily identify the traces of the civilizations and rulers who, throughout the centuries, held sway in Cagliari. In the museums and churches one can find fascinating evidence of these influences.

Poetto Beach
Numerous open air archaeological sites and unspoiled natural environments allow unusual routes, rich in charm and beauty, between art and nature. 

The main beach of Cagliari is the Poetto. It stretches for about eight kilometers, from Sella del Diavolo (the Devil's Saddle) up to the coastline of Quartu Sant'Elena. Poetto is also the name of the district located on the western stretch of the strip between the beach and Saline di Molentargius (Molentargius's Salt Mine). Another smaller beach is that of Calamosca near the Sant'Elia district. Cagliari is close to other beautiful seaside locations, such as Maddalena Beach, Chia or Villasimius, still relatively unspoilt by tourism. 

Besides a cultural life rich in theatre, opera, concerts and exhibitions, Cagliari offers a gastronomy which is rich in both sea food and meat dishes which is guaranteed to satisfy and delight even the most demanding palate. Visiting Cagliari means discovering a rich and varied style of cooking. 

Bastione St Remy

A Sardinian meal always begins with an appetizer: wild boar ham, sausage lamb or veal trotters, clams or mussels cooked alla marinara with white wine, garlic, and parsley,burrida (dogfish marinated in a walnut and garlic sauce), bottariga (salted, dried and pressed roe of tuna or mullet) served in paper thin slices with lemon and olive oil. The traditional Sardinian meats are spit-roasted suckling pig, baby lamb, and kid. 

The more adventurous might want to try sa cordula, cleaned lamb intestines sauté ed with peas, or knotted into an intricate braid with variety meats and oven or spit roasted. Another specialty issanguinaccio, a pork-blood sausage sweetened with raisins and sugar, served boiled or roasted.

                                                        Cagliari’s Top 5:
  1. Cagliari Castle.  The Castle District is the oldest of the four historic neighborhoods of the city of Cagliari. Located in position on a hill, about a hundred meters above sea level. The Pisans founded this neighborhood in the thirteenth century, fortified, and with walls, towers and bastions, and there established the headquarters of the civil, military and religious. From then until after World War II, the Castle has always hosted the the palaces of power and mansions, as the premises of the main institutions of the Kingdom of Sardinia. The medieval quarter of Castello is the symbol and heart of the city of Cagliari, with its mighty walls that still surround much of the perimeter of the Castle, the imposing tower of Pisa and San Pancrazio dell'Elefante, the Bastion of Saint Remy and Porta dei Leoni, the Cathedral of Santa Maria, the narrow alleys and ancient buildings, such as the Royal Palace or Viceregio, the museum of the Citadel of Museums, antique shops and artisans.
  2. The Cathedral of Cagliari. The church was built in the 13th century in Pisane-Romanesque style, obtaining the cathedral status in 1258. In the 17th and 18th centuries it was renovated along Baroque lines. In the 1930s it finally received the current façade, in a Neo-Romanesque style, inspired to the Cathedral of Pisa.
    The church was built by the Pisans in their stronghold overlooking the city, Castel di Castro. It had a square plan, with a nave and two aisles, the latter having cross vaults, while the nave had a wooden ceiling. In 1258, after the Pisans had destroyed the capital of the Giudicato of Cagliari, Santa Igia, and of its cathedral, it became the seat of the diocese of Cagliari. In the 14th century the transept was built, by which the cathedral obtained a Latin cross plan, and the two side entrances. The façade also obtained a Gothic mullioned window and the bell tower was also modified. From the same period is the first chapel, in Italian Gothic style, in the transept's left arm. The right transept was completed after the conquest of Cagliari by the Aragonese, and two further chapels were built. 
     The old façade was demolished in the early 20th century, and replaced by a Neo-Romanesque one, along the same lines of the original design, during the 1930s.
  3. The Basilica of San Saturnino is a Palaeo-Christian church, mentioned for the first time in the early 6th century. This church had been likely erected near the burial place of St. Saturninus of Cagliari, who, according to the Passio sancti Saturni (a medieval document telling the saint's story), had been martyred in 304. In 1089 the giudice of Cagliari, Constantine II of Cagliari, donated the complex, including also a monastery, was given by to the Benedictines of the Abbey of St. Victor of Marseille. In the occasion the church was restored in Provençal-Romanesque style. The renewed basilica was consecrated in 1119.  In the following centuries the complex decayed. In 1614 the area was excavated in search of the relics of Cagliari's early martyrs, later brought in the city's Cathedral. In 1669 some material from San Saturnino were re-used for the Baroque renovation of the latter church. In 1714 the church was re-dedicated to Sts. Cosmas and Damian. In 1943 the church was damaged by Allied bombings. After World War II it was restored. In 1978-1996 the church remained closed for restorations. It was reconsecrated in 2004.
  4. Bastione St. Remy. The Bastion, which is adorned with palms, holm-oak, Aleppo pine and two different kinds of Washingtonia, was built on the oldest bulwarks of Zecca and Sperone. Its facade is made of granite and yellow and white marble. The terrace Umberto I and the Covered Walk (Passeggiata Coperta) were built in the early 1900s They were designed by the architect Giuseppe Costa. From the vantage point of Bastion of S: Remy the historical areas of Marina and Villanova, much of the new town, the plain of Campidano, the mirror surface of the pond of Molentargius and the mountains of Serpeddì and Sette Fratelli can be seen. The Covered Walk way is nowadays used as it was in the past for exhibitions and performances.
  5. The Roman Amphitheatre - Built in the second century, is the most important archaeological remnant of Roman Cagliari, and the most significant monument in existence in Sardinia. L 'amphitheater, located at the foot of a hill , was partially excavated from the rock and partly built using limestone blocks extracted from quarries nearby. The whole monument was covered with fine materials, as shown in the large amount of thin plates of marble found in the excavations. The amphitheatre, which could hold up to 10,000 spectators, can still be seen to this day in its elliptical steps, the cavea, fences and underground. The shows held  there were many including  gladiatorial games, pantomimes and executions.  Even today, the amphitheater, partly covered by a wooden structure, is home to concerts and shows during the summer season.

    The Basilica of San Saturnino

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