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History and Legends of Sardinia: What to Know Before a Visit!

What to know before a holiday in Sardinia: history, myths and legends of an island rich in beauty and mystery.

Sardinia, with its breathtaking landscapes and emerald coastline, has always attracted visitors from all over the world. But in addition to its natural beauty, the island hides a rich heritage of history and legends that makes every visit even more fascinating.

A bit of history

The history of Sardinia goes back millennia. The island has seen the passage of numerous peoples, each of which has left its mark. The oldest testimonies are the nuraghi, mysterious and imposing stone towers. Built during the Bronze Age by the Nuragic civilisation, these monuments are scattered throughout the Sardinian territory and represent one of the island’s peculiarities.

The most interesting sites near our village are certainly the nuraghe Su Entosu right in San Teodoro (few remains but a breathtaking sea view!), the nuraghe Cabu Abbas in Olbia (still intact and with a view of Olbia) up to Arzachena with the best preserved nuraghi such as Albucciu and the Prisjiona. In addition to the nuraghi, very interesting are also the tombs of the giants such as those near the Pedres castle in Olbia or in Arzachena.

The Romans also left their mark on Sardinia. Numerous archaeological finds, such as the amphitheatre in Cagliari, testify to Rome’s long rule on the island. During Roman rule, Sardinia became an important centre of trade and production, especially for wheat.

Legends and Myths

Sardinia is not only history and archaeology, it is also a land of legends and tales. One of the most famous is that of the Janas, small fairies who lived in caves and nuraghi. It is said that they were skilled weavers and loved to dance under the full moon. The domus de janas were actually underground burial cities of the pre-Nuragic period built by the people of the Ozieri culture, peaceful people dedicated to agriculture and religion very close to that of the Cycladic islands.

Another very popular myth (and very topical given the recent discovery) is that of the Giants of Mont’e Prama, huge stone statues dating back to the Nuragic age, who according to some popular tales were the guardians of the island. Mont’e Prama is a very important Nuragic necropolis and the statues represent young soldiers wearing armour, shields, swords, bows and arrows.

The Tradition of the Sea

Sardinia, being an island, has always had a special bond with the sea. Numerous legends tell of mermaids, fishermen and sea gods. Among the many, the most famous are that of the fisherman Salvatore, who fell in love with a mermaid so much that he followed her into the abysses of the sea, and that of Ichnusa, or imprint: one day the god of the sea became furious and decided to submerge the Sardinian continent with the seas until he had second thoughts and saved a portion of land, Ichnusa, Sardinia, with one foot.