The archaeological site of Su Nuraxi at Barumini is one of the most famous bronze age costructions of Sardinia largely thanks to the work of the archaeologist Lilliu. The nuraghe is on the list of world heritage of the UNESCO as a representative of all the nuraghi of the island. The archaeological site consists of the nuraghe itself, a complex building with a main tower and bastions with four additional towers that enclose a courtyard with a waterwell, and the settlement with simple and complex huts that was inhabited from the bronze age until well into the roman period.
At the foot of the Giara di Gesturi, east of the Monte Arci, in the region of the Marmilla near Barumini lies the nuraghe Su Nuraxi. This nuraghe was the subject of one of the most important excavations under the direction of the archaeologist Giovanni Lilliu, the first post-war archaeologist to use the modern methods and who laid the basis of the knowledge on nuragic Sardinia. Lilliu himself was born in Barumini and was familiar with it's immediate surroundings including the hill that contained the remains of Su Nuraxi. The site can be visited with a guided tour and has been placed on the list of world heritage of the UNESCO because of it's exemplary status it obtained through the work of Lilliu.
Because of it's location Su Nuraxi provides a beautiful panorama of the surrounding fertile lands and the valleys between the hills stretching towards the Campidano and the Monte Arci. It gives a sense of the strategic position the nuraghe and the village had.
The central tower of the nuraghe was built in the bronze age, between 1500 and 1300 BC. It has been estimated that the tower measured 19.5 metres high and had three floors. The whole structure has been entirely built from blocks of stone without the use of any cement.
In a second phase, between 1300 and 1100 BC, the nuraghe was enhanced with four towers and a central court. The court contained a waterwell. The four towers are positioned approximately in the four cardinal directions: north, south, east and west of the central tower. In the third phase between 1100 and the eight century BC the complete structure was enforced with a large wall, making it an impenetrable bastion with an entrance several metres above the ground. Around this structure a wall with a number of secondary towers was built, probably acting as an extra defensive measure. From this phase are also the oldest foundations of huts. With the arrival of the Phoenicians and the Punics, families built their houses around the nuraghe, using also the space between the nuraghe and the outer wall, a sign of the decreasing importance of the nuraghe as a defensive bastion. The nuragic village became more important.
To enable visitors easy access a staircase has been placed to reach the main entrance. Narrow corridors and stairways lead through the thick walls up to the battlements and down again to the central court. The central court contains a waterwell, covered to avoid falling in. One of the large stones used to create the overhanging terrace has been placed there. All towers are reachable from this central court, including the entrance of the second phase afterwards closed by the thick walls. The upper corridors are not accessible due to the perilous condition of the ruins. After all the nuraghe is built without cement and the uppermost stones can get displaced.
The central tower is really impressive with it's large round chamber and tholos formed (false cupola) ceiling. It contains two niches. Three of the towers have their entrances facing the courtyard. On the inside the loopholes of the second phase are still visible, later these were closed by the outer wall. Once these loopholes provided a source of light. The northern tower is reachable through a narrow corridor running alongside the outer wall of the central tower. It is a very dark space illuminated only by the artificial lights placed there to illuminate the corridor. Within the chamber of the northern tower there is a second well of which the exact function is unknown.
The nuragic village
Most of the structures and foundations of the nuragic village, especially those between the outer wall and the central nuraghe, are dated back to Punic times. Several rooms formed one housing structure where a family would live. The lower towers also have loopholes, facing outward (see photo). Just on the outside of the outer wall, facing the entrance of the nuraghe is the hut of the assemblies with it's circular bench in stone.
In front of the hut in later times a sort of antichamber was added. In two of the housing structures a peculiar room has been found containg a circular bench and a bassin in the middle. It is thought that this room was dedicated to religious functions. Next to it half round openings have been found that have been indicated as ovens or heating places.
Large stones that have been used to create the overhanging platforms or terraces of the nuraghe have been placed side by side on the edge of the site. Many of these stones were found at the foot of the large nuraghe but also near many other nuraghi.
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Opening times: summer may-june 9:00-19:00, july-august 9:00-19:30, september 9:00-18:30; winter: october 9:00-17:30, november 9:00-16:30; december-february 9:00-16:00, march 9:00-17:00, april 9:00-18:00
Prices: 12,00 euro ; 9,00 euro groups and students; 7,00 euro children from 6 to 12 years (tickets include Su Nuraxi and the Casa Zapata)
Su Nuraxi can only be visited with a guide every 30 minutes
Website: fondazione barumini
The information has been updated for 2018 but prices and opening hours may vary.