Cagliari, the beautiful Sardinian capital, a city that faces the centre of the Gulf of the Angels, the southern part of the island, spreading out around the hill of the historic district of Castello, bordered to the north by the hills and plains, and to the south by the sea.
What it has in common with Rome, Lisbon and Istanbul is the fact that it was built on seven hills that identify as many city districts: Castle, Tuvumannu/Tuvixeddu, Monte Claro, Monte Urpino, Colle di Bonaria, Colle di San Michele, Calamosca / Devil’s Saddle. The city is in characterized by hilly areas where the city’s historic population lived and todays Cagliari Old Town still remains, there is also the low-lying areas , where most of the neighbourhoods sprung up since the nineteenth century. Cagliari is the political , economic and cultural centre of Sardinia , but it is also an important and popular tourist city : lively and vibrant during the day, with a steady stream of people meeting in cafes or just walking the ancient streets, continuing into the night as they visit the multitude of clubs, bars, restaurants and nightclubs. A city that also offers secular parties and festivals , full of museums and monuments, restaurants with traditional cuisine , craft shops and antique stores . The sea is crystal clear and transparent, its popular beach being Poetto with kilometres of white sand, lagoons and nature reserves unique in Europe. From Cagliari you can easily travel to the multitude of beaches and Villages where some of Sardinia’s most spectacular white beaches can be found, the likes of Chia, Costa Rei, Villasimus, Geremeas, Sant Elmo, and Torre Delle Stelle.
TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN CAGLIARI
What to see in Cagliari in Sardinia? What are the places of interest to visit? What to see in particular? Here are the 10 things to see in and around Cagliari and each one is not to be missed!
Bastione di Saint Remy
Built to honor the first Piedmontese Viceroy, the Baron of Saint Remy, the Bastion is one of the most loved attractions of Cagliari. It is not only a monument of high historical value, but also one of the most beautiful points from which to admire the entire city.
Torri dell’Elefante e San Pancrazio
The twin towers of the Elephant and San Pancrazio tower over the area of the Old City of Cagliari. They were built by the Pisans in the first decade of 1300 to counter a potential attack by the Aragonese. Both made of white limestone by Bonaria, they are characterized by their impressive heights. The tower of San Pancrazio extends to the sky for 36 meters and protected the north side of the Castle; that of the Elephant which is 30 meters high, covered the south-western side.
Parco Molentargius – Saline
When you first set foot inside the very famous Molentargius – Saline Park, you could be forgiven for thinking that you were on some mysterious but fascinating island, a humid area of extremely high environmental importance that extends over 1,600 hectares (many of which are composed of basins of fresh water and others with different degrees of salinity).
A very delicate but efficient ecosystem, inside which there are many protected plant and animal species, among which you can find the famous pink flamingos. To fully enjoy the experience inside the Molentargius Park – Saline, rent a bike or take advantage of the skills of a tour guide.
Spiaggia del Poetto
Despite some renovations altering the composition of its white sand, the Poetto beach is still one of the most beautiful beaches on the coast of Cagliari. An unmissable destination in the summer months, the beach preserves its charm all year round.
Santuario di Nostra Signora di Bonaria
Built in Gothic-Catalan style at the behest of Alfonso di Aragona, the sanctuary dedicated to the Patrona Maximima di Sardegna is an attraction which has an interested history. On 25 March 1370, near the beach of Bonaria, a box was thrown into the sea by a Spanish sailing ship. After the friars of the Mercede managed to finally open it, they found inside a Statue of the Madonna with Child, holding a lit candle in his right hand. Starting from 1704, work was carried out to extend the Sanctuary; in 1926, the location obtained its consecration in Basilica Minore.
The monumental Palazzo Civico of Cagliari, made of white limestone and overlooking the famous port of the Sardinian capital, is a triumph of different architectural styles, but well mixed together. Inside, the building houses the municipal offices, the Council Chamber and the representative rooms; on the outside, the Palazzo Civico is striking for its two tall octagonal towers.
Cattedrale di Santa Maria
Dating back to the thirteenth century, the construction of the sumptuous church is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin and Santa Cecilia Martyr and became a Cathedral in 1258. The Pisan Gothic religious building, which over time has undergone several expansion works, was remodeled following the canons of Baroque architecture. In the twentieth century, further work on the Cathedral uncovered two important chapels dating back to medieval times: the Pisan chapel and the Aragonese chapel of the SS. Sacrament dedicated to the Holy Thorn.
The interior of the Cathedral of Santa Maria is home to numerous artistic treasures, such as the wooden sculpture depicting the Madonna and Child of the Venetian school (dating back to the second half of the fourteenth century) and the four lions of the XII century, located at the foot of the presbytery steps. Inside the Cathedral there is also a crypt-sanctuary, built to celebrate and bury the Sardinian martyrs on the orders of Archbishop Desquivel.
Cittadella dei Musei
In the district of “Castello”, between the “Porta Cristina” and the Piazza Indipendenza, there is the ancient headquarters of the Regio Arsenale – now home to the most important artistic treasures of the city, gathered in the museum collections of the National Archaeological Museum and the National Art Gallery , which through the Nuraghic bronzes and Sardinian and Catalan retabli of the fifteenth century retrace the history of the island. The complex also houses the Collection of Anatomical Waxes and the Siamese Museum of Art.
Sella del Diavolo
The Sella del Diavolo (Sedd’e on Diaulu in the Sardinian language) is the promontory that rises in the southern area of Cagliari and separates the Poetto beach from that of Calamosca. Here you can discover a new way to observe the Sardinian capital and you will come across small archaeological masterpieces, such as the remains of a fort World War II and the Tower of Sant’Elia.
Castello di San Michele
You can’t leave Cagliari without spending some time in the park and, above all, in the nearby Castle of San Michele, an architectural masterpiece dating back to the Byzantine era (10th century). Inside the manor are hosted many exhibitions (some of which are paid). The complex has three towers and a moat surrounding the structure. The most important period of the Castle is undoubtedly between 1350 and 1511, when it was inhabited by the Carroz Family, a noble Spanish family.