This relatively short itinerary in the northwest of Sardinia touches some of the main highlights of Sardinian prehistory. The northwest is characterized by the plain of the Nurra, a fertile area with dense human activity since the neolithicum and the rise of agriculture. On the north and the south side the plains are accessible from sea and it is not unlikely that it was part of trading routes in the northern Mediterranean, connecting the south of France, Corsica and the Italian mainland. More recently, in the Middle Ages, Alghero was founded as a catalan colony, which explains why until today a catalan dialect is spoken in this part of Sardinia.
Alghero has become one of the main destinations for tourists in Sardinia, not only because the airport is nearby but also thanks to it's characteristic old center with it's medieval bastions overlooking the bay. The town has many hotels and nice restaurants, beautiful beaches and the famous Grotte di Nettuno. Alghero is the starting point of this itinerary.
The first leg goes to the nuraghe and settlement of Palmavera at the foot of a hill, overlooking the bay. This Bronze Age settlement is a fine example of the numerous prehistoric remains of the era of the nuraghi that are present everywhere on the island. The central monument, a two tower building with a courtyard, is surrounded by a pentagonal wall with the remains of other towers on almost each corner, and with a large hut of the Assembly. Around it are visible the remains of a number of huts that were part of a village that must have been much larger. A ticket to visit the site can be combined with the necropolis of Anghelu Ruju, the destination of the next leg in the itinerary.
The destination of the second leg, the necropolis of Anghelu Ruju, is to be found on the road from Alghero to Sassari, not far from the airport. The necropolis consists of a large number of gravechambers cut in the rock, these date back to the neolithic and calcolithic, but most graves have also been reused in the Bronze Age or even as a home in more modern times. There are different types of gravechambers and some of these have interesting details like bulls horns in relief. A visit to the site may take an hour.
The third leg goes to a very particular monument, the prehistoric altar of Monte d'Accoddi. Some have called it a piramid, others see in it a mesopotamian ziqqurat, but archaeologists agree that it is neither. The monument dates back to the Copper Age and around it are several burial sites like that of Anghelu Ruju, indicating that this monument probably played an important part in the religious life of the people that lived here. Therefore it is considered a prehistoric altar with a long ramp, next to it standa a tall menhir and to the other side a stone table together with a mysterious oval shaped stone. In the entire western Mediterranean area there does not seem to be a similar monument from the Copper Age.
The last leg goes to Sassari, the capital of northern Sardinia. Sassari was founded in the Middle Ages and was an independent town (Comune). Later it became the capital of the province of Sassari that initially included all of northern Sardinia. Sassari has the second university of Sardinia which explains that since the nineteenth century the archaeological museum G.A. Sanna possesses a rich collection of important finds from archaeological digs from the entire northern part of Sardinia. The collection includes the finds from Monte d'Accoddi and other major sites, like burial sites and nuraghi. There is also a large bronze table of the roman period with incised a Roman law regarding the borders between to rival tribes, found near Esterzili.
As an important provincial town Sassari has a lot of possibilities for shopping and for spending a pleasant evening in a restaurant. In the evening and at night the central square and the streets are much alive. Once a year Sassari is the center of a very popular event, the Cavalcata Sarda.
Circumstances in reality can be different due to specific situations or changes on the roads. See also the disclaimer
The prehistorical altar of Monte d'Accoddi was built in two phases at the time of the Culture of Ozieri (4000-3200 BC) and the culture of Filigosa and Abealzu (3200-2700 BC). It has the aspect of a piramid or ziqqurath with an access ramp. Around it there is a large village (not excavated). Interesting features are the menhir, the large stone table and the perfectly oval stone.
This archaeological museum is perhaps with that of Cagliari the most important in Sardinia. Here every important find in northern Sardinia has been gathered, from the earliest prehistory to the middle ages it shows the changes through time in pottery, metal and stone objects that have accompanied the Sardinians in their past.
The prehistoric necropolis of Anghelu Ruju is one of the largest in northern Sardinia. There are about 38 prehistoric graves similar to Domus de Janas, artifical rock cut chambers. The necropolis is situated near the airport of Alghero in the middle of the historic and fertile region of the Nurra.
Nuraghe Palmavera is a complex nuraghe surrounded by a nuragic village. It is located at the foot of the mountain, near the sea along the road from Alghero to Porto Conte. It is one of the famous nuraghi of Sardinia where extensive archaeological research has been performed.
Alghero is called Alguer in the local catalan dialect which is still spoken in that part of Sardinia. It has preserved much of the historic walls, the narrow streets and the fishermans port, retaining much of it's characteristics and attractiveness as a mediterranean town.