Sardinia is a very interesting Italian island with a long and complex history. Whereas Sicily has long been at the crossroads of history, Sardinia has typically been tucked out of the way of it. One of the most notable pieces of history on Sardinia today are the remains of the ancient Nuragic culture and around 7,000 Nuragic towers on the island.
Another of Sardinia's attractions is its stunning white sand beaches, and the sand is very white. If one does go there, don't remove any of the sand as it is strictly protected (there is an issue of the beaches disappearing from people stealing the sand). People can be fined as much as $3,000.
Sardinia's Prehistoric Nuragic Civilization
The Nuragic civilization was an ancient culture in Sardinia that lasted from around the 18th century BC (or Bronze Age) to the Roman age. The Romans colonized Sardinia in 238 BC (which heralded the end of the long-lasting civilization).
- Nuragic Civilization: Lasted Approx. 18th Century BC to 238 BC
- Colonized: 238 BC By Rome
The dates are disputed; some claim that the civilization started as long ago as the 23rd century BC and lasted as long as the 2nd AD or even long after Roman times to the 11th century AD in some areas like Barbagia. No written records of this civilization have been discovered, with all written information about them coming from classical Greek and Roman literature. Much of this information may be more myth than actual history.
The Greeks were so impressed by these tower fortresses that they even tried to claim the Nuraghe as one of their own works.
The Nuragic Tower Fortresses of Sardinia
The name "Nuragic" comes from the many tower fortresses on the island called "nuraghe". They were built by the ancient Sardinians, and there are still over 7,000 of them dotting the Sardinian landscape today. Some archeologists believe there could have originally been more than 10,000 of them - some have even claimed the number could be as high as 20,000 to 30,000 towers.
They are ancient megalithic edifices from the Nuragic Age (between approx. 1900 and 730 BC).
- Built: Between 1900 BC and 730 BC
- Number: Around 7,000 Are Found Today
- Total Built: Believed To Be Over 10,000
They are typically on the tops of hills and occupy strategic positions. Their exact function remains a matter of debate. Only a few of the nuraghe have been scientifically excavated and studied. They likely had different uses - including for defense. It is also thought that the Nuraghe people also slept and lived in the towers - they could also have stored food in them. They may also have been status symbols.
- Purpose: Remains A Topic Of Debate
They were constructed with dry stone with no bonding material used. They remain one of the Brochs - the ancient skyscrapers of Scotland that one can still see today.
Exploring The Nuragic Towers In Sardinia Today
Today they have become the symbol of Sardinia, and while they are found across Sardinia, they are more concentrated in the west. There is a Nuraghe for every five square kilometers, and they are hard to miss as one travels through the Sardinian countryside.
One will see them from the roadside and from the trains. The best way to see them is to hire a car and drive around the island to visit different sites.
- Height: Up To 30 Meters or 100 feet
They were designed with a central tower surrounded by an outlying wall. Sometimes they had an accompanying settlement. The tower could be up to 30 meters high.
Notable Nuragic Towers In Sardinia
Some notable Nuraghe to visit are:
Su Nuraxi, Barumini:
A complex that consists of a central tower or keep and four corners that are connected by a bastion. These are surrounded by a labyrinth of 50 huts, cisterns, and wells. The keep is the oldest tower and was originally 18.5 meters tall. It's made of basalt - volcanic stone.
- Location: Near Giara in Central-Southern Sardinia
- UNESCO-Listed: The Only Sardinian Site UNESCO Listed
Nuraghe Santu Antine, Torralba:
This Nuraghe is considered one of the most sophisticated dry-stone constructions in the world. It is the most impressive one in the valley of the Nuraghe (one of the places with the greatest concentration of prehistoric buildings on the island).
- Built: Between The 16th Century and 9th Century BC
- Location: Valley Of The Nuraghe
Nuraghe Losa, Abbasanta:
Has three towers of incredible size and complexity. It stands on the basalt plateau of Abbasanta, around 5 km or 3 miles from the small Sardinian town of Oristano. Walk around this massive structure and admire what the ancient civilization must have been like.