Sites and events San Salvatore

San Salvatore

San Salvatore

Cabras (OR)

San Salvatore is a small hamlet around a church. Each year around august an event takes place where the statue of the saint is brought from San Salvatore to Cabras, the Corsa degli Scalzi. The small church itself is built on top of a prehistoric underground sanctuary, a hypogeum. The sanctuary can be visited and on the walls there are several drawings and paintings left behind in the course of the centuries. Next to the village are the remains of roman baths called Domu 'e Cubas

San Salvatore

On the road from Oristano to Tharros, near the lagoon of Cabras, lies the small hamlet of San Salvatore, maintained in it's original state because of the historical value of this place. Central to the hamlet is the small church dedicated to San Salvatore, built in the seventeenth century AD on top of a much older hypogeum that served in it's latter days as an underground church. Around it are the cumbessias, small houses in use when religious celebrations are held.

The first inhabitants of the peninsula of Sinis came in the fourth millenium BC to this area. Traces of human presence have been found in the nearby site of Cuccuru Is Arrius. During nuragic times several nuraghi were built around San Salvatore, most are now in a state of decay. North of San Salvatore, not far away, the most important archeological finds of the late nuragic times have been uncovered; the large statues of Monti Prama in sandstone representing warriors and princes. These are to be considered unique for the whole of prehistoric Sardinia.

layout of the hypogeum
layout of the hypogeum

The hypogeum was created as a sanctuary in neolithic times. In the nuragic era a well was dug and it became a water sanctuary. Next to a small menhir venerated in the further room, the water of the well was considered to have healing powers. The punics continued to use the sanctuary to venerate the god Sid, Sardus Pater, and the romans dedicated it to Asclepius, the god of healing. Just as with other sanctuaries in christian times it was transformed into a church, first underground, and in later centuries a new church was built on top of the hypogeum.

The hypogeum itself is partly carved out of the rock and has five rooms and a central space with the quadrangular well. The walls have been plastered and through the centuries drawings, paintings and writings have been applied to the walls. Some show ships, human figures, animals and even a greek alphabet was written. Because of the bad state of the plaster not all drawings are very clear.

The hamlet itself is very small but worthwhile walking through. Many have made their second home of the small houses there, the traditional cumbessias. Once a year the hamlet is the center of an event that commemorates the incursions of the Arabs in medieval times. Young men dressed in white and barefoot carry the statue of the saint running through the countryside to the town of Cabras as if fleeing for the Arabs and thus saving their holy statue. The event is called the corsa degli scalzi and is held on the first saturday of september.

Next to the village lie the ruins of a roman bathhouse, Terme di Domu' e Cubas, that could have been part of a roman villa. Unfortunately the town of Cabras does not dedicate attention to this structure and it is much overgrown.

The village of San Salvatore was once used to shoot spaghettiwesterns. For that purpose a saloon in wood had been built on the square in front of the church. However one day it burned down completely and it was never rebuilt. Nowadays there is a new bar next to the village where one can have a drink.


Donati, A. and R. Zucca 1992, L'ipogeo di San Salvatore, Sassari

Address: San Salvatore

Openingtimes: The church can be visited, however opening hours are dependant on the presence of volunteers and may vary.

Price: Free entrance, your voluntary contribution or donation can be done to the church

Out of respect for the religious nature of the site please wear appropriate dress.

Last updated 13/05/2016

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