The legend says that when God created land and sea, he flung the last boulder he had into the sea and trod on it. Then he threw some colours and a piece of the best things he created elsewhere and completed Sardinia. That’s why the island has a shape of footprint (called ichnusa in the Sardinian language) and that’s why it seems to be a little continent itself. It contains every kind of landscape - green meadows, colorful flowers, emerald sea, white beaches, mountains and deep valleys.
The Sardinian history starts back in the pre-Christian era. The island has been inhabited since the Stone Age. The most ancient sights are the tombs carved into the rocks called domus de janas or houses of the fairies or houses of the witches (for example Anghelu Ruju in Alghero). The best known are probably nuraghes. They were a kind of megalithic, usually tower shaped fortresses made of huge and smaller granite stones. There were about 7000 nuraghes in Sardinia during the most developed period of the nuragic civilization (about 1800 BC - 450 BC). One of them – nuraghe Barumini – has been included into the list of the cultural heritage of UNESCO. Close to the nuraghes often were built the giants’ tombs – the word giants in this case means the most important people of each community. The nuragic civilization was in contact with other Mediterranean civilizations – in 700 BC it was Phoenicians, later on Carthaginians and Romans.
The Romans left many traces in Sardinia: amphitheatre in Cagliari, Roman town and bridge in Porto Torres, the Roman town Nora and the Roman acqueduct in Olbia or the Roman ships found during the excavations in Olbia and now exhibited in the local museum.
After a short domination of the African Vandals it was turn of the Byzantine empire. In Siligo there is a temple of Mesumundu from this period. As during the Roman period, even during the Arab domination the Sardinians moved into the hinterland. From the 705 for more than a hundred years Arab (first from Africa, then from Spain) kept attacking the southern and the western coast of Sardinia. Nobody was really interested in helping the Sardinian people so at the end they had to organize the defense on their own and gradually defeated the Arabs. Sardinia became the border between Islam and Christianity in the Mediterranean.
Gradually the island passed from the Byzantine domination to the four local administrative units so-called giudicati (11th – 14th century), guided by judges. During this important period also women played an important part in the political life in Sardinia. Just to name some of them: Adelasia judge of Porto Torres, Elena de Lacon judge of Gallura, Eleonora d’Arborea. Even in this period the incursions of another invaders did not stop, let’s mention Pisans or Genoeses.
On the western coastline the influence of the Catalans was very strong. In Alghero the dialect spoken nowadays is the language spoken in the past. The most important cultural heritage from the Middle Ages are the magnificent Romanesque churches built from the tenth century onward like Trinità di Saccargia in Codrongianus and San Pietro di Sorres church and monastery in Borutta – the two magnificent churches built in white limestone and black trachyte and remembering the Pisan architecture. The Catalans left in Sardinia some examples of their architecture like Santuario di Bonaria in Cagliari or the historical center of Alghero.
After the Spanish domination the Kingdom of Sardinia (founded by the pope Bonifacio VIII in 1297 and existed until 1861 when the island became a part of the Kingdom of Italy) the island passed to the Savoyards.
The fact is that Sardinia was occupied by many foreign conquerors, but the Sardinian people never gave up their own language and traditions. Nowadays Sardinia is an autonomous region of Italy with focus on tourism. However, the traditions help the local people to go on – typical pecorino cheese or excellent wines like Sella&Mosca, Argiolas and others are exported into the whole world.
There are also some high technology facilities: Tiscali (operating in the field of internet), telescope in San Basilio (the biggest one in Italy), DNA research is done on the long life expectance of the Sardinians.
Yet, the island is well known as a summer holiday destination with its almost 2000 km of the coastline and incredibly clean water.