Near Paulilatino along the ss131 lies the archaeological site of Santa Cristina. The site consists of a nuragic sanctuary near a christian church dedicated to Santa Cristina and a nuraghe with settlement. Central to the nuragic sanctuary is the waterwell with a staircase that has been built with smooth walls and mathematical precision unseen elsewhere. The continuity of the sacred character of the place is clear from the presence of the small church and houses, only in use a few days during religious festivities. Nearby there are the remains of the nuragic settlement with a nuraghe and several huts built by shepherds in more recent times.
The archaeological site of Santa Cristina has three distinct area's in the setting of a natural park created by the town of Paulilatino. It can be easily reached by a separate junction of the strada statale 131 Carlo Felice between Oristano and Abbasanta, just above the plains surrounding the Bay of Oristano.
The main area can be found around the nuragic sanctuary of the well. This well is a jewel of architecture, although the upper part has disappeared completely and only the underground structure is still intact. The well itself is a tholos shaped perfectly round structure, 6.9 meters high that can be reached through a triangular shaped entrance with a staircase. The walls, the staircase and the well itself are built with elaborated mathematical precision giving the whole structure it's awesome appearance, very much unlike the rough basalt structures of the nuraghi. At the bottom of the well several votive statues and ceramics have been found that indicate the use as water sanctuary. The site probably was founded in the eleventh century BC.
Next to the well lies the hut of the reunions (assembly) and the foundations of what has been interpreted as structures used during festivities and could have sheltered all sorts of stands with religious articles and workshops.
The second part consists of the more recent church of Santa Cristina and the small houses (cumbessias) where several times a year the people gathered for religious ceremonies and feasts that could take days. Therefore some of the families built a small house to stay overnight.
The third part is the nuragic village, several hundred meters away from the well, around a single nuraghe (nuraghe monotorre). Of particular interest are the long huts built completely in stone of which the function is still unknown. These would not have been part of the original nuragic village but from much later date.
The landscape around the site is of particular beauty, typical of that zone.
1. Lilliu,G. 2003: La civiltà dei Sardi dal paleolitico all'età dei nuraghi, Nuoro
2. Moravetti, A. 2003: Il santuario nuragico di Santa Cristina, Sassari
3. Santillo Frizell, B. 1992, Phoenician Echoes in a Nuragic Building in: Sardinia in the Mediterranean: A footprint in the sea, ed. R. H. Tykot and T.K. Andrews, Sheffield, p. 262-270
Tel: 0785 55438/686/623.
Website: Coop Archeotour Paulilatino
Opening times: 8:30 until sundown.
Prices: Euro 5,00 , Euro 3,50 (reduced for groups), Euro 2,50 (6-13 years) including free entrance to the museum at Paulilatino.
The information has been updated for 2018 but prices and opening hours may vary.