Cagliari travel guide

Cagliari is the capital of the province of the same name as of the whole island of Sardinia. The most beautiful parts of the city are the picturesque medieval district of Castello and the harbour district of Marina with a wide variety of eateries. There is also a beautiful beach, called Poetto, and several interesting monuments. The city’s main square is Piazza Matteotti.

Cagliari travel guide

Useful information

Tourist information office: Piazza Matteotti (+39 070669255; April to September from 08.00 to 20.00, October to March from 09.00 to 14.00 and from 15.00 to 18.00, July and August on Sundays only from 08.00 to 14.00) and Stazione Marittima (+39 070668352; from 08.30 to 13.30 and from 15.00 to 19.00).

Town hall: Via Roma 145 – 09124 Cagliari (phone: +39 070 6771).

Public transport: Both the port and the main bus and train stations are close to Piazza Matteotti..

Nearest airport: The nearest airport is the Aeroporto Internazionale Mario Mameli in nearby Elmas. The airport has a direct train connection to Cagliari and to the other main cities on the island.

Police: Via Amat, 9 (tel. +39 070 492169). Post office: Piazza del Carmine (from 08.15 to 18.40; Saturday from 08.15 to 13.20; closed on Sunday). Hospital: Ospedale Brotzu, Via Peretti (tel. +39 070 543266).

Tourist attractions

Cagliari
Cagliari

Castello district

The Castello district is bordered by a large white brick wall. Two watchtowers from the time when Sardinia was part of the Republic of Pisa are still standing. Entering the district from Piazza Costituzione via the Bastione San Remy, one has a beautiful panorama of the city.

Santa Maria Cathedral

Santa Maria Cathedral (Piazza Palazzo, 4; +39 070663837; 08:00 to 12:30 and 16:30 to 20:00) was originally built in the 13th century. The current version is the result of a Baroque facelift in the 17th century. Between 1933 and 1938, attempts were made to restore the original facade. Highlights include the bell tower, which does date from the 13th century, and two stone pulpits on either side of the entrance. These were donated to the city by Pisa in 1312 and were made by Guglielmo da Pisa.

Torre di San Pancrazio

The San Pancrazio Tower (Piazza Indipendenza; April to October from 09:00 to 13:00 and from 15:30 to 19:30 and November to March from 09:00 to 17:00; closed on Saturdays; admission free) stands to the right of the northern city gate. It is one of two Pisan towers still standing. After serving as office space, the tower was converted into a prison in the 17th century.

Citadella dei Musei

The Citadella dei Musei is the name for a group of four museums within the city walls that frame the Castello district. These are located in Piazza dell’Arsenale, where the city’s Arsenal used to be.

Museo Archeologico Nazionale

The National Archaeological Museum (tel. +39 070684000; Tuesday to Sunday 9am to 8pm) has a collection that starts before Nuragic culture and ends in the late Roman period. The highlight of the collection is a number of bronze figurines made by the Nuraghian people. The figurine representing the chief is especially impressive.

Pinacoteca Nazionale

The Pinacoteca Nazionale (tel. +39 070684000; Tuesday to Sunday 9am to 8pm) displays local Sardinian paintings from (mainly) the 15th to 17th centuries. It includes four paintings by Pietro Cavaro, considered the island’s most important painter.

Raccolta di Cere Anatomiche

The Raccolta di Cere Anatomiche (Tuesday to Sunday from 09:00 to 13:00 and 16:00 to 19:00) is exactly what the name says, a collection of anatomical wax models.

Museo d’Arte Siamese

The Museo d’Arte Siamese (tel +39 070651888; from June to September from 09.00 to 13.00 and 16.00 to 20.00 and from October to May from 09.00 to 13.00 and 15.30 to 19.30; closed on Mondays) has an eclectic collection of Asian art and utensils.

Torre d’Elefante

The Torre d’Elefante is named after the carved elephant at the base of this tower. It stands at the end of Via Universit√† and was built during the Pisan rule.

The Marina district

Marina is the port quarter of Cagliari. Apart from the many hotels, the district is mainly characterised by the large number of restaurants and trattorias. The biggest tourist attraction is the Sant’Eulalia Church, to which a museum is attached.

Museo del Tesoro e Area Archeologica di Sant’Eulalaia

The “Treasury and Archaeological Area of Sant’Eulalia Church” are particularly interesting because of the ruins of ancient Roman roads found during honour restoration of the church. (Vico del Collegio, 2; +39 070663724; from July to September from 10am to 1pm and from 5pm to 11pm and from October to June from 10am to 1pm and from 5pm to 8pm).

Stampace district

The Stampace district is a working-class neighbourhood. There are a number of beautiful churches in this district.

San Michele Church

The San Michele Church (Via Ospedale, 2) was built in the rococo style. Habsburg King Charles V once delivered a flaming speech here before going to war against Arab pirates.

Roman Amphitheatre

The Amphitheatre (from April to October from 10am to 1pm and from 3pm to 6pm and from November to March from 10am to 4pm; closed on Mondays) is one of the few reminders of the Roman presence in Sardinia. Unfortunately, the vast majority of this monument was later used as building material for newer constructions. Concerts are often staged there in summer.

Galleria Comunale d’Arte

The Galleria Comunale d’Arte (Viale Regina Elena – Giardini Pubblici; +39 070490727; 9am to 1pm and 5pm to 7pm; closed on Tuesdays.) is entirely dedicated to the Ingrao Collection of 19th- and 20th-century art.

The district of Villanova

The new Villanova district is located north and east of the historic centre. Here there are mostly flat blocks, among which there are nevertheless some interesting attractions.

San Saturno Basilica

Built in the 6th century, the San Saturno Basilica (Piazza San Cosimo; 09:00 to 13:00; closed on Mondays) is one of Sardinia’s oldest churches.

Exma

Like the Roman MACRO Testaccio, Cagliari has converted an old slaughterhouse into an exhibition space. The Exma (Via San Lucifero, 11; +39 070666399; from June to September from 10am to 2pm and 5pm to midnight and from October to May from 9am to 8pm) has ever-changing exhibitions.

Nostra Signora di Bonaria Basilica and Monastery

The Nostra Signora di Bonaria Complex houses a statue of the “Madonna and Child” that was washed up on the beach in the 14th century.

Annual events

The Festa di Sant’Efisio has been celebrated every year in May since the 17th century.

A brief history of Cagliari

Thanks to its central position in the Mediterranean Sea, Cagliari was already a kind of a hub for many peoples, before Rome became the major power. The Phoenicians and the Punic people were the first to establish a base on the island, which became an economic center in the 6th century BC.

The Romans conquered the island in 238 BC and established a port, which they used to transport salt, metals and other commodities from Sulcis (the southernmost part of Sardinia).

In 46 BC, the settlement became a Roman municipality.

After the Romans lost power, the Vandals took over. The Vandals were succeededby the Byzantines, which led to more trade with Africa.

In the 8th and 9th centuries pirates raided and in 1015 even conquered the city.

At the same time, relations with other maritime powers, such as Marseille, Pisa and Genoa intensified.

In 1324, the House of Aragon took power and in 1479 it was the turn of the Spanish rulers.

1720 saw the arrival of the House of Savoy.

In 1991, part of the city was moved to the newly formed municipality of Monserrato.

How to get to Cagliari by car

You can reach Cagliari by ferry from Civitavecchia, Naples, Savona and Palermo.

Cagliari, Sardinia

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