Tuvixeddu Necropolis: the history of a symbol of Sardinia
The necropolis of Tuvixeddu is one of the most important archaeological sites in Sardinia, one of the landmarks of Cagliari along with the Sella del Diavolo and the beach of Poetto.
Cagliari, like Rome, Lisbon, Prague, and Istanbul, was built on seven hills and is on the Tuvixeddu hill where there are the remains of the largest Punic necropolis in the Mediterranean: the necropolis of Tuvixeddu.
The name Tuvixeddu means “hill with little holes” and comes from the Sardinian word tuvu “cavity”, or “emptiness” or “hole”, referring to the numerous tombs dug into the limestone.
The necropolis within the ancient city of Casteddu must be visited if you travel to Cagliari and surroundings. It’s between the district developed along Viale Sant’Avendrace and Via Is Maglias and originally included an area of about 80 hectares from the lagoon of Santa Gilla to Via Is Maglias and from Viale Sant’Avendrace to Viale Merello.
Archaeological research over the years has brought to light tools in flint and oxidania, ceramics, the base of huts dating back to the Ozieri culture, wall paintings, burials, and grave goods.
Numerous historical documents have been recovered due to the continuous attendance of the site since prehistoric times, however, the clandestine activity of the grave robbers, combined with constructions and investigations often conducted hastily and chaotically, caused the loss of many artifacts and useful information to reconstruct the history of the archaeological area.
It was the Carthaginians who chose Mount Tuvixeddu as the burial ground of their deceased, between the sixth and third centuries BC, thus creating the largest Punic Necropolis in the entire Mediterranean. The burials were reached through wells of two and a half up to eleven meters deep, dug into the limestone rock.
Inside the wells, there is a small opening allowing access to the finely decorated funeral chamber, also called the burial cell, where precious amphorae and ampoules called lacrimatoi, were preserved which contained fragrant essences.
The most interesting Punic tombs are the Tomb of the Urea, the Fighting Tomb, or Tomb of the Sid, and the Tomb of the Wheel.
At the foot of Tuvixeddu hill, there is also a Roman Necropolis that houses the funeral hypogeum of Attila Pomptilla, a tomb known as the Cave of the Viper. The monument was discovered and saved from destruction by scholar Alberto Della Marmora during the construction of the royal road Cagliari-Porto Torres in 1882.
Necropolis of Tuvixeddu: discovering the ancient archaeological area
In 1258 the Pisans, together with their Sardinian allies, destroyed the capital of the Judicate of Cagliari: Santa Igia, part of the population fled to the city of Villa di Chiesa (Iglesias) while another part took refuge in the tombs of the necropolis of Tuvixeddu which were used as homes. Even today, signs that testify the use of caves for housing purposes are visible in some funeral rooms.
During the Second World War, the tombs were used as air-raid shelters and, again, as homes mostly by older people, so they didn’t have to run into the hills at the sound of air-raid sirens.
More evidence of the residential use of Tuvixeddu is the villa Mulas dating back to the early twentieth century and surrounded by a park in which there are various species of trees, including pines and cypresses.
At the end of the Second World War, the Tuvixeddu hill became a cement quarry of Italcementi, and to facilitate the passage of trucks transporting the extracted rock between 1953 and 1956, an internal road connecting via Is Maglias to via Falzarego was built. The work led to the formation of two different areas of the hill: Tuvixeddu, on the side of Viale Sant’Avendrace, and Tuvumannu, overlooking Via Is Maglias.
Many graves and traces of the past were destroyed due to mining activity and the urbanization of Sant’Avendrace district.
The Necropolis of Tuvixeddu opened to the public for the first time in 1997 in occasion of the Open Monuments first edition, an event created so to promote and enhance the cultural heritage of the island.
The interest of the Cultural Voluntary Association “Friends of Sardinia”, which at its own expense made it possible to open the site, more than 5,000 people who visited the archaeological area in a single weekend.
The site was finally opened to the public in 2014 and can be visited every day of the year at the following hours:
- January and February: from 07.00 to 21.00
- March: from 07.00 to 21.30
- April: 06.00 to 22.00
- May: 06.00 to 22.30
- June: 05.30 to 23.00
- July: from 05.30 to 24.00
- August: from 06.00 to 24.00
- September: 06.30 to 24.00
- October: 07.00 to 22.00
- November and December: from 07.00 to 21.00
Starting from August until October, guided tours are available:
- Saturday 8th August
- Tuesday 11th August
- Thursday 13th August
- Wednesday 19th August
- Saturday 22nd August
- Monday 24th August
- Wednesday 26th August
- Wednesday 2nd September
- Thursday 3rd September
- Saturday 5th September
- Monday, 7th September
- Wednesday, 9th September
- Friday 11th September
- Monday 14th September
- Wednesday 16th September
- Friday 18th September
- Tuesday 22nd September
- Thursday 24th September
- Tuesday 29th September
- Wednesday, 30th September
- Friday 2nd October
- Saturday 3rd October
For more information and reservations, two telephone numbers are active: 349 493 22 96 or 388 980 63 51.
Due to the Covid-19 containment legislation and the current rules on social distance, visits are available for a maximum of 40 people per day.