If you only see one of Sardinia’s nuraghi (ancient stone dwellings) you should make it the biggest and most famous: Su Nuraxi, between Cagliari and Oristano. The majestic UNESCO-protected complex is a compelling sight, surrounded by the brown hills of the interior, and a good taste of the primitive grandeur of the island’s only indigenous civilization.
Su Nuraxi’s dialect name means simply “the nuragh”, and not only is it the largest Nuraghic complex on the island, but it’s also thought to be the oldest, dating probably from around 1500 BC. Comprising a bulky fortress surrounded by the remains of a village, Su Nuraxi was a palace complex at the very least – possibly even a capital city. The central tower once reached 21m (now shrunk to less than 15m), and its outer defences and inner chambers are connected by passageways and stairs. The whole complex is thought to have been covered with earth by Sards and Carthaginians at the time of the Roman conquest, which may account for its excellent state of preservation: if it weren’t for a torrential rainstorm that washed away the slopes in 1949, the site may never have been revealed at all.