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Thought was populated since prehistory (the first human settlements date back to 6.000 - 5.000 B.C.), Sardinia never elaborated a unitary association form. The trace of the settlement is therefore extremelyfragmentary, as lots of little villages throughout the island witness.Villages, which are expression of a civil-social order, organized in communities and tribal groups of modest entity.The age of the nuragic civilization was a period of independence, but also of relative isolation from the big cultural movements in the Mediterranean area. The Nuraghe with its peculiar architectural structure is the most representative sign of that past. A typical character of Sardinian archaeology is the disposition of the monuments and architectural works, spread all over the countryside, making up a harmonious whole with the natural environment.
The Nuraghi as well as other evidences of the past, such as Domus de Janas, holy wells and temples, the giants tombs, the big stones fixed in the ground (betili or menhir of the megalithic architecture) make of Sardinia a kind of "open-air museum".
These signs are very frequent. On the whole island there are, in fact, about 7.OOO Nuraghi and hundreds of archaeological monuments.


Sardinia is one of the most ancient lands in Europe, visited way back the Palaeolithic period though inhabited permanently by man only much later, in the Neolithic age, around 6000 B.C.

The first men to settle in Gallura and Northern Sardinia probably came from the Italian mainland and, in particular, from Etruria. Those who populated the central region of the island around the salt lakes of Cabras an S. Giusta, arrived it seems from the Iberian Peninsula by way of the Balearic Islands. Those who founded their settlements around the gulf of Cagliari were never was one single peopling but really several peoples.

As time passed, the Sardinian peoples became united in language and customs yet remained divided politically into various smaller tribal states. Sometimes they banded together, while at others they were at war with one another. Tribes lived in villages made up of round thatched stone huts, similar to the present day pinnate of shepherds.

From about 1500 B.C. onwards the villages were built at the foot of a mighty truncated cone fortress (often reinforced and enlarged with embattled towers) called nuraghe.

The boundaries of tribal territories were guarded by smaller lookout nuraghi erected on strategic hills commanding a view of the enemy. Today some 7000 nuraghi dot the Sardinian landscape.

Ancient history

Around 1000 B.C. the Phoenicians began to land on the shores of Sardinia with increasing frequency. Setting sail from Lebanon, on their trade routes as far as field as Britain they needed safe anchorages for the night or to weather a storm.

With the local chieftain's consent the more common ports of call were those later named as: Caralis, Nora, Bithia, Sulcis, Tharros, Bosa, Torres and Olbia. They soon became important markets and after a time real towns inhabited by Phoenician families who traded on the open sea and with the Nuragic Sardinians inland.

In 509 B.C., in view of the Phoenician expansion inland becoming ever more menacing and penetrating, the native Sardinians attacked the coastal cities held by the enemy who, in order to defend themselves, called upon Carthage for help.

The Carthaginians, after a number of military campaigns, overcame the Sardinians and conquered the most mountainous region, later referred to as Barbarian or Barbagia.

F or 271 years, the splendid Carthaginian or Punic civilization flourished alongside the fascinating local Nuragic culture.

In 238 B.C. the Carthaginians, defeated by the Romans in the first Punic War, surrendered Sardinia which became a province of Rome. The Romans enlarged and embellished the coastal cities and with their armies even penetrated the Barbagia region, thereby bringing down the Nuragic civilization. The Roman domination in Sardinia lasted 694 long years and was often opposed by the Sardinians fro, the mountains who, netherless, adopted the Latin language and civilization.

Medieval History

In 456 A.D., when the Roman Empire was sinking fast, the Vandals of Africa, on their return from a raid Latium on the mainland, occupied caralis along with the other coastal cities of Sardinia.

IN 534 the Vandals were defeated at Tricamari - a place some 30 km from Carthage - by the troops of the Eastern Emperor Justin Ian and Sardinia thus became Byzantine. The island was divided into districts called merèie, governed by a judge residing in Caralis (Cagliari) and garrisoned by an army stationed in Forum Traiani (nowadays Fordongeanus) under the command of a dux. Along with the Byzantines and the Eastern monastivism of the followers of St. Basil, Christianity spread throughout the island, except in the Barbagia regions. Here, towards the end of the sixth century, a short-lived independent domain re-established itself, with Sardinian-heathen lay and religious traditions, one of its kings being Ospitone.

From 640 to 732 the Arabs occupied North Africa, Spain and part of France. In 827 they began their occupation of Sicily. Sardinia remained isolated and was forced to defend herself; thus, the judge provincial assumed overall command with civil and military powers.

The continual raids and attacks by the Islamised Berbers on the Sardinian shores began in 710 and grew ever more ruinous with time. Their inhabitants abandoned one by the coastal towns and cities. The judge provincial, in order to afford a better defence of the island, assigned his civil and military powers to his four lieutenants in the merrier of Cagliari, Torres or Logudoro, Arborea and Gallura. Around 900, the lieutenants gained their independence, in turn becoming judices (in Sardinian judikes means king) of their own logo or state.

Each one of these four Sardinian states called judicative constituted a sovereign kingdom, not patrimonial but independent since it was not the property of the monarch. But they were at the same time democratic since all the most important issues of national interest were not for the king (or giudice) himself to decide but were a matter for the representatives of the people gathered in assembly called corona de logu. Each kingdom manned its own fortified boundaries to protect its own political and trading affairs, its own parliament, own laws (cartas de logu), own national languages, own chancelleries, own state emblems and symbols, etc.

The kingdom or "giudicato" of Cagliari was politically pro-Genoese. It was brought to an end in 1258 when its capital, S. Igia, was stormed and destroyed by an alliance of Sardinian-Pisan forces. The territory then became a colony of Pisa.

The kingdom of Torres, too, was pro-Genoese a came to an end in 1259, on the death of the "giudicessa" Adel Asia. The territory was divided up between the Dorian family of Genoa and the Bas-Serra family of Arborea, while the city of Sassari became an autonomous city-republic.

The kingdom of Gallura ended in the year 1288, when the last "giudice" Nino Visconti a friend of Dante's, was driven out by the Pisan who occupied the territory.

The kingdom of Arborea was almost always under the political and cultural influence of the powerful marine republic of Pisa. It lasted some 520 years, with Oristano as its capital.

In 1297, Pope Boniface VIII in order to settle diplomatically ghee War of the Vespers, which broke out in 1282 between the Angevins and Aragon's over the possession of Sicily, established mote propriety a hypothetical "regnum Sarduniae et Corsicae". The Pope enfeoffed it to the Catalan Jaume II the Just, king of the Crown of Aragon (a confederation made up of the kingdoms of Aragon and Valencia, plus the peasants of Catalonia), promising him support should he wish to conquer Pisan Sardinia in exchange for Sicily.

In 1323 Jaume II of Aragon formed an alliance with the kings of Arborea and, following a military campaign which lasted a year or so, occupied the Pisa territories of Cagliari and Gallura along with the city of Sassari, naming them "kingdom of Sardinia and Corsica".

In 1353, for reasons of state survival, war broke out between the kingdom of Arborea and the kingdom of "Sardinia and Corsica", part of the Crown of Aragon.

In 1354 the Aragon's seized Alghero and reshaped it into an entirely Catalan city, which still today displays its Iberian origins.

In 1353 Pere IV of Aragon, called "the Cerimonious", granted legislative autonomy (a parliament) to the kingdom of "Sardinia and Corsica" which was followed in due course by self-government (Viceroy) and judicial independence (Royal Hearing).

From 1365 to 1409 the kings or "giudici" of Arborea Mariano IV, Ugone III, Mariano V (assisted by his mother Eleonora, the famous giudicessa regent) and Guglielmo III (French grandson of Eleonora) succeeded in occupying very nearly all Sardinia except Castle of Cagliari (today Cagliari and Alghero).

In 1409 Marti the younger, king of Sicily ad heir to Aragon, defeated the judicable Sardinians at Sanluri and conquered once and for all the entire land. Shortly afterwards he died in Cagliari of malaria, without issue, and consequently the Crown of Aragon passed into the hands of the Castilians Trastàmara - and in particular Ferran I of Antequera and his descendants --with the Coòpromise of Caspe in 1412.

Modern History

In 1479, as a result of the personal union of Ferran II of Aragon and Isabel of Castile (the so-called "Catholic king and queen"), married ten years earlier, was born the Crown of Spain. Even the "kingdom of Sardinia" (which in the new title was separated from Corsica since that island never was conquered) became Spanish; with the state symbol that of the Four Moors. Following the failure of the military ventures against the Mulsumen of Tunis (1535) and Algiers (1541) Carlos V of Spain, in order to defend his Mediterranean territories from the pirate raids by the Africa Berbers, fortified the Sardinian shores with a system of coastal lookout towers.

The kingdom of Sardinia remained Iberian for approximately four hundred years, from 1323 to 1720, assimilating a number of the Spanish traditions, customs, linguistic expressions and lifestyles, nowadays vividly portrayed in the folklore parades of S. Efisio in Cagliari (May 1st)by the Cavalcade on Sassari (last but one Sunday in May) and by the Redeemer in Nuoro (August 28th).

In 1708, as a consequence of the Spanish War of Succession, the rule of the kingdom of Sardinia passed into the hands of the Austrians who landed on the island.

In 1717 cardinal Alberoni, minister of Felipe V of Spain, reoccupied Sardinia.

In 1718, with the Treaty of London, the kingdom of Sardinia was handed over to the Dukes of Savoy, princes of Piedmont, who rendered it perfect from imperfect attributing it the summa potestas that is the authority to stipulate international treaties. The kingdom was then italianised.

In 1799, as a consequence of the Napoleonic wars in Italy, the Dukes of Savoy left Turin and took refuge in Cagliari for some fifteen years.

In 1847 the Sardinians spontaneously renounced their state autonomy ad formed a "fusion" with Piedmont in order to have a single parliament, a single magistracy and a single government in Turin.

In 1848 the Wars of Independence broke out for the Unification of Italy and were led by the kings of Sardinia for thirteen years.

I n 1861 the kingdom of Sardinia was transformed into the Italian state founded.

Contemporary Age

In 1946 by popular referendum Italy became a Republic. Sardinia - administered since 1948 by special Statute - is today one of the twenty Italian regions, with 1,700,000 inhabitants spread out over the provinces of Cagliari, Sassari, Oristano and Nuoro, retracing more or less the territories of the four ancient and glorious judicable states.

[Source: Esit Sardinia]




Interactive map

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Top Destinations

Pula South Sardinia
Golfo Aranci Only 18 km north of Olbia
Stintino Northwest Sardinia
Torre delle Stelle Southeast Sardinia between Cagliari and Villasimius
Palau Northeast Sardinia