The Gems of Central-Western Sardinia

From the Nuragic Temple of Santa Cristina to the Giants of Cabras and the quartz beaches of the Sinis peninsula, this beautiful corner of Sardinia is a veritable treasure trove

  • The Gems of Central-Western Sardinia
  • The Gems of Central-Western Sardinia
  • The Gems of Central-Western Sardinia
  • The Gems of Central-Western Sardinia

Among the many traces left in Sardinia by the Nuragic civilization, that ruled on the island between the Bronze Age and the 2nd century BC, the megalithic constructions to which it owes its name (and whose function still remains uncertain) certainly are the most famous.
Nevertheless, besides the Nuraghs, the island is scattered with plenty of other fascinating and perhaps even more mysterious remains, such as the enigmatic Temples of Holy Water and the sandstone Statues of the Giants.
To discover some of these treasures, you need to get off the most popular tourist routes and head to the western part of the island, and particularly to the province of Oristano and the peninsula of Sinis, where the inland is scattered with exceptional archaeological sites and the coastline is dotted with bays and beaches of pristine beauty.
The Nuragic Shrine of Santa Cristina
On the basaltic plateau of Abbasanta, in the province of Oristano, at the end of the nineteenth century Sardinian archaeologist Giovanni Spano discovered one of the first "sacred wells" ever found on the island. Built around the 11th century BC, this deep hole surrounded by a fence and preceded by a trapezoidal hall is one of the best-preserved, almost intact examples of its kind.
Its original function is uncertain, but it presumably hosted cults and ceremonies devoted to water, the Mother Goddess and femininity, or, according to a less widespread theory, served as an astronomical observatory.
The fact remains that this hypogeal construction appears to the eyes of a contemporary observer as something truly extraordinary, and even more fascinating because it is wrapped up in mystery. Nearby are also some Nuraghs and the village church of Santa Cristina, to which the site owes its name.
The Giants of Mont'e Prama
It was the year 1974 when, in the fields at the foot of Mont'e Prama’s hill, not far from the Cabras pond on the Sinis peninsula, some farmers accidentally came across what would turn out to be the most important archeological discovery of the late 20th century in the Mediterranean.
It was a burial ground dating back to the 8th century B.C. above which over 5,000 arenaceous limestone sculptural fragments were scattered, which were later reconstituted through a long restoration process and turned out to be part of some huge statues, around two meters high, and carved out of unique blocks that could weigh up to 400 kilos from a local quarry.
Buried underground for 2,800 years, the "Giants" were partially rebuilt and turned out to be boxers, archers and warriors - and most likely the oldest in-the-round statues in the Mediterranean Basin, part of a funerary monument of unrivalled majesty in Italy.
While the excavations in the site continue revealing new surprises on a daily basis, the reconstructed statues can now be admired at the Civic Archaeological Museum of Cabras, where they are housed inside a special room enriched by multimedia technology, and at the Archaeological Museum of Cagliari.
The Sand and Quartz Beaches
In addition to its fascinating archaeological sites, this part of Sardinia also offers beaches of unmatched natural beauty. The coast of the Sinis peninsula houses some of the most beautiful quartz beaches of the island, particularly Is Arutas, Mari Ermi and Maimoni, characterized by pebbles resembling rice grains in the shades of white, pink, green and silver and washed by a crystal-clear sea. This peculiarity is the result of a natural process that took hundreds of millions of years, the gradual erosion of the granite rocks of which the coast was originally formed, of which quartz represents the very heart.
Mari Ermi is a gently sloping two-and-a-half-mile-long beach along the Cabras coast, enclosed by sand dunes and sheltered by a large pond populated with pink flamingos. Just in front is the small island of Mal di Ventre, also dotted with magnificent beaches.
A little further south, the Is Arutas "twin" beach has a deep seabed, clear waters and a truly remarkable marine fauna - the ideal combination for snorkeling.
Further south you will find another quartz beach, Maimoni, near the archaeological excavations of Tharros, an ancient Phoenician city founded on a pre-existing Nuragic settlement.
Maimoni is a a wonderful two-kilometer beach loved by surf enthusiasts and it can be reached via a long dirt road immersed in the Mediterranean scrub and ending on a small promontory; it owes its name to the Sardinian and Phoenician god of water and rain.
Among the other famous beaches of the area are those of Sa Mesa Longa, in the northern of the peninsula, and that of San Giovanni di Sinis, in the south. Sa Mesa Longa, the "long table", is a large yellow beach with a pink shore and dark rocks facing it. San Giovanni di Sinis, near Tharros, is one of the most renowned beaches in Sardinia; it owes its name to an early Christian church and it is a strip of white sand and rocks dominated by an impressive Spanish tower.

Author : The Slowear Journal


Sardinia  | nuragic civilization  | giants  | sinis  | cabras  | beaches  |

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