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Inside Sardinia - Ancient Stone Towers: The Nuraghi

Part 2: Ancient "hollow heaps" called Nuraghi are unique to Sardinia

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nuraghe sardinia

A Nuraghe in Sardinia.

James Martin
Nuraghi Quick Facts:
  • There are over 7000 examples of Nuraghe on Sardinia.
  • The Megolithic Towers belong to a Bronze Age Culture that lived about 3000 years ago.

The Nuraghi in Sardinia

A nuraghe (plural: Nuraghi) is a monumental tower made of huge stones roughly worked. A nuraghe might stand as a single tower like the one above, or several nuraghi might be joined together as a complex of many towers with connecting structures and walls. Either form might show remnants of a village in the immediate vicinity.

The name "nuraghe" derives from the word "nur" meaning "hollow heap." The earliest form of nuraghi were corridor nuraghi, and from the outside resembled a pile of rock, but the insides had been removed to make a habitation area.

Many tower nuraghi have several floors. In this case, there is usally a staircase running around the interior, and each floor is topped with a corbeled dome (a rounded dome made by stacking rocks in circular courses, each course becoming smaller as it inches inward, until it all comes together at the top. For a photo of a Nuragic corbeled dome taken from below, click here.)

A nuraghe may have many niches in its walls, and there are secret rooms in some, usually near the entrance, giving rise to the idea that they were being used for passive defense. But there's hardly anything written to let us know just what they were used for exactly, except a single paragraph by the Romans refering to how difficult it was to win a battle with people who had managed to get inside a nuraghe and were ready to defend it.

How You Can Visit a Nuraghe

Nuraghi dot the Sardinian landscape. You can often just get out of a car and visit one. But unexcavated Nuraghe are often burried quite deep, no matter how tall they appear (see the pictures below), and you might not want to crawl in and see the insides. A better bet is to go to one of the excavated examples where you'll be able to see complex tower complexes with village remains. A good example of one of these is found at Su Nuraxi di Barumini, whose central tower was constructed around 3500 years ago.

Su Nuraxi di Barumini is accessible by car, 60km north of the Southern Sardinian city of Cagliari. Nuragic, Punic, and Roman artifacts have been found there.

Santu Antine, just outside of the city of Torrialba in the Sassari province near the road to the train station, is a complex formed around a central tower surrounded by three other smaller towers.

Sardinian Nuraghi Pictures

Visit our gallero of Nuraghe Pictures.

Next page> How to Visit the Best Nuragic Villages > Page 1, 2, 3

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