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Exploring Ancient Sardinia - Holidays Among the Ruins

Author: Lisa Jeeves
by Lisa Jeeves
Posted: Jul 22, 2014

In 238 BC, after their decisive defeat in the Second Punic War, the Carthaginians surrendered some of their possessions to Rome, including the island of Sardinia. Holidays to this lovely Italian island provide the opportunity to see the ruins left behind by the centuries of Roman control, as well as the preceding Carthaginians and Phoenicians. Top sites include the city of Cagliari, the ruins at Nora and Tharros, and the thermal baths at Fordongianus. The Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Cargliari and local museums around the island display the artefacts found at the ruins and help to complete the picture of an ancient land.


Cagliari (Casteddu) is a city testament to the longevity and change of the human occupation of Sardinia. Holidays to the city, whether using it as a base or taking a day trip in from elsewhere, are highly recommended. The site has been continuously occupied for at least five thousand years. Under the control of Carthage, it became important — the Carthaginian necropolis of Tuvixeddu remains as evidence of their presence. Under Roman control, the city gained an amphitheatre, an aqueduct, public buildings and further building works. The remains of these are well worth a visit, especially in summer, when open-air concerts are performed at the amphitheatre.


Nora, near the town of Pula, is another site with a long history. Founded by prehistoric peoples, it was colonised by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans in turn, and is an exemplar of the turbulent ancient history of Sardinia. Holidays to Cagliari can easily encompass this nearby site, which has a theatre and baths in good condition, as well as the low remains of walls near the sea. The museum in Pula holds finds from the site, while the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Cargliari holds the Nora Stone, a Phoenician inscription found at Nora in the 18th century.


A visit would not be not complete without a trip to Tharros, attested to in Roman itineraries as one of the most important settlements on the island. In a now-familiar pattern, it was founded by Phoenicians on a prehistoric site, and subsequently taken over by Carthaginians and Romans. Most of the ruins at the site are Roman, including the baths, the temple foundations and an area of artisan workshops and houses. Of particular interest is the tophet, an open-air sacred space seen in several Phoenician settlements in the western Mediterranean.


Fordongianus (Fordongiani) was known in Roman times as Forum Trajani, in honour of the Emperor Trajan. It is said that he ordered the building of several notable works that remain to this day, such as a bridge and a magnificent complex of thermal baths. There are multiple surviving pools and surrounding arches. A nearby modern spa brings the ancient legacy to today’s Sardinia. Holidays here are sure to impress and relax.

Helen Forbes is from Essential Italy, a company specialising in Italian holiday villas, apartments and hotels. If you’re looking for the perfect villas in Sardinia, holidays can be made so much easier with our help. Our handpicked villas offer distinctive Italian qualities, great comfort and convenience.

About the Author

Writer and Online Marketing Manager in London.

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Author: Lisa Jeeves

Lisa Jeeves

United Kingdom

Member since: Oct 18, 2013
Published articles: 4809

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