Exploring Sardinia’s Treasures: Su Nuraxi and the Giara of Gesturi
Embark on an extraordinary journey through Sardinia’s rich history and natural wonders, starting with a visit to the iconic Nuraghe of Barumini, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Mystical Nuraghe of Barumini
Nuraghe, the iconic symbols of Sardinia, were constructed during the 2nd millennium BC, and the Nuraghe of Barumini is among the most renowned. This ancient structure comprises a central tower, or keep, which once stood nearly 20 meters tall. The keep is encircled by a fortified courtyard and is flanked by four additional side towers. Entering this monument is a thrilling and adventurous experience as you navigate the ancient corridors and pass through its formidable walls. Beyond the third circle of towers, you’ll discover the surrounding village, which boasts circular houses constructed over a span of at least ten centuries.
Casa Zapata: Uncovering Hidden Secrets
Your journey continues with a visit to Casa Zapata, a noble house dating back to the Spanish Period. During restoration work, a remarkable surprise awaited—the discovery of another Nuraghe beneath the palace’s foundations. Footbridges have since been constructed above this hidden treasure, affording you a unique opportunity to admire a Nuraghe from an elevated perspective.
The Enigmatic Giara Plateau
The term “giare” refers to basaltic highlands in Sardinia, formed by volcanic activity during the Oligocene period. These highlands feature steep cliffs and are found within the Marmilla and Sarcidano regions. While there are three giare in total—Gesturi, Serri, and Siddi—their influence extends across multiple municipalities. The largest and most famous of these is the Giara of Gesturi, measuring 12 kilometers in length and 4 kilometers in width, with a total area of 45 square kilometers.
The Giara of Gesturi boasts a remarkably even terrain, occasionally punctuated by shallow depressions that collect rainwater during the wet season, creating small pools known as “paulis.” This highland is blanketed in lush vegetation, comprising dense cork oak forests and Mediterranean shrubs, including myrtle, rockrose, strawberry trees, lentisk, heather, and spurge. Additionally, it hosts endemic species like “s’erba ‘e oru” (Morisia Monantha), a paleo-endemic plant found only in Sardinia and Corsica—an ecological treasure akin to the Lepidurus apus, a small crustacean inhabiting the highland’s wetlands.
Perhaps the most famous residents of the Giara are its small horses, a unique equine breed measuring between 110 and 120 centimeters at the withers. These horses, with their distinctive almond-shaped eyes, are the last remaining wild horses in Europe, with a population of around a hundred individuals. The Giara is also a haven for birdwatchers, boasting 64 bird species year-round and an additional 22 species during the summer.
Beyond its natural wonders, the Giara holds significant archaeological importance. Along the plateau’s perimeter, you’ll find 24 Nuraghi, with even more scattered at its base. Researchers believe that this region served as a natural fortress for Nuragic populations, making it an archaeological treasure trove.