Nuraghe Santu Antine
Nuraghe Santu Antine can be considered one of the most fascinating bronze age constructions of Nuragic Sardinia. The nuraghe consists of one central tower and three additional towers, long corridors and a central courtyard with a waterwell. Around the nuraghe lie the remains of a nuragic village, occupied well into roman times.
In central Sardinia, in the historical region of the Meilogu, lies a highland plateau with so many bronze age towers that it is called the Valle dei Nuraghi, the Valley of the Nuraghi. The most impressive of these nuraghi is the majestic Nuraghe Santu Antine. This complex nuraghe can be found not far from the highway ss131 Carlo Felice, at the exit of Torralba. The name of the nuraghe has been given in honour of the popular Saint Constantine, in fact Antine in Sardic, the late roman emporer who made the christian faith a state religion. The locals called the grand nuraghe simply Sa Domu de su Re, the house of the king. The complex nuraghe is surrounded by the remains of huts dating back to the bronze age and roman times.
The great nuraghe was one of the first to attract the attention of scholars back in the 18th and 19th century, for example Giovanni Spano. One of the first drawings was made in 1774 by Francesco Cetti and the first photograph was taken in 1901 by Giovanni Pinza. In the twentieth century archaeologists like Antonio Taramelli, Giovanni Maetzke, Giovanni Lilliu, Ercole Contu and Alberto Moravetti studied the area extensively and this lead to many publications on the bronze age building.
The archaeological site is now maintained by the municipality of Torralba.
The main tower
source: Contu 1988 p 12
(Kind permission from Carlo Delfino editore)
The nuraghe has a central tower with three towers positioned around it connected by massive walls which gives the entire building a triangular shape with rounded angles. In front of the central tower there is a courtyard which is protected by the wall that connects the two lateral towers on each side. The main entrance on the southside is made in a section of the wall that is broader, leaving room for a small corridor and guardroom inside. The short corridor opens to the courtyard where a large waterwell and a number of seven doorways can be seen, the one straight in front leading to the central tower.
The main tower, built probably in the 16th century BC, is still 17,55 meters high and has two storeys left. The third storey has virtually disappeared. When entering the central tower through the short corridor on the left an opening can be seen that leads with a staircase to the upper floors. The large central room on the groundfloor of the main tower has a false cupola (tholos) ceiling 7,93 meters high. Once inside the impression is not that of a massive construction because of the presence of a circular corridor all around the central room sustained by pillars. Inside the chamber right above the entrance there is a niche at 2,9 meters. Niches are a common feature in nuragic architecture. In the circular corridor, which does not span the entire 360 degrees there is a second smaller well dug out in the floor.
As with many nuraghi the staircase leading to the upper floors is incorporated in the thick walls, at the lower end broader and towards the top smaller and narrow. The circular staircase winds around the central room and opens to the second floor with another large chamber exactly above the first one and this too with a tholos ceiling. There is a window that opens to the courtyard opposite the entrance to the room. Inside the chamber there is a niche and a circular bench that reminds of the so-called huts of the assemblies in the nuragic villages.
The staircase leads further to the second floor, now reduced to a mere terrace. From this terrace there is a magnificent view of the countryside and a good view of the surrounding bastions and the remains of the village.
Apart from the entrance to the central tower and the exit from the nuraghe there are six more doorways that from the courtyard lead to other parts of the nuraghe. The two outermost doorways lead to two lateral towers, the central doorways lead to corridors, while the two innermost doorways lead with stairs up to the first floor of the bastions. The architecture seems symmetrical but it is not perfect. There is no admittance to the central tower from the bastions or the three secondary towers which points at a later date of construction of the surrounding complex compared to the main tower.
The lateral towers once had two storeys, what remains are the chambers on the ground floor with broken ceilings open to the sky. From both towers a corridor leads to the northern tower. The two large corridors are intersected by the two corridors that depart from the courtyard, which makes the entire plan of the building a kind of labyrinth. In the outer wall of the corridors there are loopholes, even though the term loophole does not mean these were used as such, they could have had the function of letting in air and some light. Just before opening to the northern tower both corridors are connected by a lateral corridor intersected by a third opening to the northern tower. In the northern tower there is a third well, covered with stones. The well is positioned beneath the level of the floor. The northern tower also has a doorway that leads outside, currently barred.
The upper floor of the bastions can only be reached through the staircases which can be entered from the courtyard. Large parts of the upper storey of the bastions have disappeared in the course of the centuries because the stones have been reused as building material. It gives the ramparts the appearance of a medieval castle when walking around the upper corridors. The plan of the upper floor is similar to that of the ground floor; two lateral corridors connect the front towers to the northern tower. The three towers are not accessible but there are other chambers built into the massive walls that are still visible. The view of the environment, the village below and the courtyard is extraordinary.
The village and the surroundings
All around the nuraghe only a small part of what must have been a much larger nuragic village has been uncovered and examined. The round structures are from huts dating back to the bronze age (13th century BC), very similar to the pinnettas, the huts still used by the shepherds in the mountains. The rectangular structures belong to houses of the roman age, probably part of a roman villa. The site has been inhabited for a long time because of it's strategic location along the north-south route accross the island, later the course of the roman road.
The fertile valley counts a large number of nuraghi. In the direct vicinity of nuraghe Santu Antine there are nine more nuraghi, one of these nuraghe Oes next to the railroad in the territory of the municipality of Giave.
Address: ss131 exit Torralba along the SP21 to Bonorva
Openingtimes: 09:00 to sunset
Prices: Euro 3,00 (0,50 Euro discount for a visit to the necropolis of Bonorva or the monastery of San Pietro di Sorres)
Tel. : 079 847145/298
Web site: Nuraghe Santu Antine