Cagliari started out as a Phoenician settlement and bishopric and was subject to various dominations before becoming the capital of Italy’s second island. Its province has magnificent inlets and beaches combined with protected naturalistic areas and ancient villages full of history and culture.


The city was first inhabited as a Phoenician settlement in the ninth century B.C., but it was only in the eighth century B.C. that the city developed due to the active presence of the Carthaginians who made Cagliari an important commercial base. In 238 B.C. it passed under Roman rule and in 48 Julius Caesar gave it city status. As a result of the spread of the Christian faith on the Island, in 314 Cagliari was given bishopric status. The Vandal occupation didn’t interrupt the city’s religious or monastic activities, and the subsequent Byzantine conquest took place in 534 by Giustiniano’s troops in a period of decline. Subsequently, the Pisans ruled the city and built large fortifications in a position that meant they could dominate the entire city. The Aragonese conquest took place in 1326 after a siege that lasted two years and subsequently the Austrians took over in 1708. In 1718 it was handed over to the Savoy family who made it the headquarters of its viceroy. In 1793 it resisted a violent French siege and from 1799 it became the official residence of the Sabauda family. In 1862 the walls and the city’s other fortifications were destroyed so the city lost its role as a stronghold.  During the Second World War it suffered heavy damage and was occupied by the allies in 1943.

The city and its monuments

Situated between beaches, hills and internal lagoons, Cagliari has always been the main city, both as a trading port, as a fortified area and as the centre of a long-range military system.  The city develops along the coast, edging into several low hill ranges between the Santa Gilla and Molentargius pools and is made up of eighteenth century quarters and those of the last century bearing the mark of Piemontese or Ligurian architecture. Amongst the most important monuments there is: the Bastione di Saint Remy, a spectacular belvedere from the 1800’s,built on the Spanish ramparts; the Castle built in the oldest part of the city and immersed in the 17th-18th century quarters; the Torre dell’Elefante, built by the Pisans in 1307, a typical example of eighteenth century construction; the thirteenth century Cathedral; the Museum district with the National Archaeological Museum, the National Gallery, the Siamese Cardu Museum and the waxwork Collection.  The following places are also worthy of mention:  the Roman Arena, one of Sardinia’s most important Roman constructions, almost entirely dug out of rock; the Tuvixeddu necropolis; the lower city with the churches of Sant’Agostino and San Domenico, Piazza Yenne, Piazza San Giacomo with its church of the same name and finally, San Saturno, one of the oldest and most important churches in Christian Sardinia.

The geographical area

Amongst the wonders to be found in the province we cannot forget the following: il Poetto, Cagliari’s beach, that stretches out along the inlet of the Gulf of Quartu and behind which there are the Molentargius salt mines and pools, a protected naturalist area where there are pool hawks, flamingos, avocets and egrets. Quartu Sant’Elena is an ancient suburb with the ethnographical Museum that exhibits the environments and objects of the Sardinian artisan and peasant life throughout the ages. The Santa Gilla saline is one of the largest in Italy and, finally, Assemini, Solianova and Pula, a village renowned for the Giovanni Patroni Archaeological Museum and for the nearby archaeological area of Nora. Villasimius, with its beautiful beaches is a well-known seaside resort whilst the island of Sant’Antioco has important inhabited centres such as Calasetta and Sant’Antioco. Lastly, Iglesias is the second city after Cagliari.