The Town of Cagliari, Italy

Cagliari (164,249 inhabitants) is the largest city in the Sardinia Region. About one third of the total one and a half million inhabitants on the Island live in its outskirts and in the communalities within its province.

Located at the southernmost tip of the Campidano plains, at the centre of the namesake gulf and featuring important wetlands both in the east and in the west, Cagliari spreads along the coast and on its nine limestone hills. Some of these are of significant landscape and naturalistic value, such as Mount Urpinu (the hill of San Michele with its mediaeval castle) and the promontory of Capo Sant’Elia (included by the European Community into the SCI – Sites of Community Interest). The town was founded between the VII and VI century B.C.E. by the Phoenicians. Since then, it has represented the gateway to Sardinia, and all peoples who reached the Island established here their headquarters: Punics, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Pisans, Aragonese, and Piedmontese.

The traces of history are evident in the urban structure: the Phoenician-Punic necropolis of the Tuvixeddu hill, the Roman amphitheatre carved into limestone rock, the cathedral of Pisan origins, the Royal Palace which, for a short time, was headquarters to the Sabaudian court. It was the Pisans who, by fortifying the hill of Castello in the XIII century and favouring the formation of its branches (Stampace, Marina, and Villanova), impressed upon the town the contour that would remain unchanged until the beginning of the last century. The quarter of Castello is the symbol of Cagliari.

WHAT TO SEE IN CAGLIARI

The town’s gonfalon features the two Pisan towers of the Elephant and of Saint Pancras built in the XIV century to counteract the siege by the Aragonese. The Sardinian name of the town is Casteddu, which testifies to how the town in the past was identified in the quarter of Castello. The historical quarters of Cagliari are rich in churches, noble palaces, and archaeological remnants. The following are worth visiting: the cathedral of Santa Maria and the Bastion of Saint Remy in Castello, the underground archaeological complex of Santa Eulalia in the Marina, the Baroque church of San Michele in Stampace, and the Gothic-Catalan church of San Giacomo in Villanova. The fair of Sant’Efisio is held in Cagliari every year on the first day of May. This is the most celebrated and popular on the Island because of the lively procession of hundreds of people wearing the traditional dress.

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