Neighborhoods of Cagliari: how many are there and why visit them?
The destinations we choose for our vacations hold many secrets and are rich with stories about men and women who have walked along paths and streets like those of Cagliari, a city now in great evolution with a cosmopolitan core.
There are four neighborhoods in the historical center of Cagliari, the modern part of the city is divided into 20, plus the 7 belonging to the municipality of Pirri, making Casteddu, the Sardinian name of Cagliari, the 26th most populated municipality in Italy with a total of 31 neighborhoods.
According to writer Gaio Giulio Solino, son of Apollo and huntress Cirene, Cagliari was founded by Aristaeus, who left Boecia in XV BC and reached the coasts of Sardinia bringing peace among the populations living there as well as introducing agriculture and hunting and also founding Caralis.
Caralis o Carales is a Latin toponym identifying the city of Cagliari which was called Krly by the Phoenician-punics. According to Max Leopold Wagner, one of the most important Sardinian linguists, Karali comes from proto Sardinian language with Nurargic origins during the period extended from the Bronze Age to the second century AC. In more recent times, Cagliari derives from the Spanish pronunciation Callari, and the Sardinian name Casteddu which refers to the ancient fortified neighborhood of Castello built by the Pisans.
Castello is one of the many districts of Cagliari, let’s now discover the history and characteristics of each area which together form the Sardinian capital.
Neighborhoods of Cagliari: from the historical center to the modern city, history, and characteristics
History, culture, tradition and contemporaneity, you can find it all in the neighborhoods of Cagliari, discover the characteristics of the different areas of Casteddu and explore from the heart of the historical center past the gates into the modern city.
The neighborhoods in the old town of Cagliari
- Castello: was founded by the Pisans in XIII, who also made the fortifications, built walls, towers and bastions. Castello is the main district of the historical center of Cagliari, it resides on a hill given by Giudicessa Benedetta to Lamberto Visconti di Eldizio, more or less 100 m above sea level. The Pisans used it as location for civil power, military and religious, it was also used in this manor during the Aragonese and Spanish rule and that of the Piedmontese until the end of the Second World War. The entrance to the fortress is through the medieval gates, nowadays Castello hosts some of the most important institutions including the Prefecture, the Assembly room of the Metropolitan City of Cagliari in the quarters of the royal palace and the Università degli Studi di Cagliari – Cagliari University.
- Marina: north of this neighborhood is Castello, the southern part is aligned with via Roma, east with Viale Regina Margherita and west with largo Carlo Felice. Like Castello, also Marina was founded by the Pisans in XIII so to have storage spaces and homes for the working class of the nearby port of Cagliari. Marina initially called Lapola or La Pola, increased during the Aragonese invasion and even more so during the Spanish one, becoming one of the city’s busiest areas, home of merchants and fishermen and center of local markets. It was here that the first hotels of the city were built, hosting people of importance like French writer Honoré de Balzac, poet David Herbert Lawrence, writer and painter Carlo Levi and Antonio de Curtis in art named Totò.
- Stampace: Giovanni Spano, priest, archeologists, and university professor wrote about the neighborhood, also founded by the Pisans, name’s origin: “ We don’t know about the origin of the name. There are opinions it is named after an area in Pisa, or a street, or perhaps a neighborhood of the city”. Of the fortress remains only the Sperone tower, beside the homonyms church, meanwhile the crypt of Santa Restituita was used as a refuge during the bombings in 1943. The procession of Sant’Efisio, one of the most important religious celebrations of Sardinia, starts in Stampace, also the Cùcurus Cory’s day, “day of the hot headed”, name given to the inhabitants of Stampace because of their stubbornness, takes place here.
- Villanova: or Biddanoa in Sardinian, is the neighborhood where farmers of Campidano, the plain in the south-western part of the island, lived in the past before they decided to move to be closer to Cagliari. Here, from 1616 to 1680, lived Italian painter and sculptor Giovanni Angelo Puxeddu. Today in Villanova reside two important Arch-confraternities which are active mostly during the rituals of the Holy Week.
The neighborhoods of the modern town
- Sant’Avendrace: the district located near the Cagliari Pond, one of the most important humid areas of Europe, owes its name to saint Avendrace, the fifth bishop of Cagliari who was martyred. Here there is also the cave of the Vipera, a funerary hypogeum from the Roman Empire.
- Tuvixeddu/Tuvumannu: this neighborhood is named after the two hills on which it resides, here there are also important archaeological sites like the necropolis of Tuxiveddu, the largest Punic necropolis still existing.
- Mulinu Becciu: this area is in the north western zone of Cagliari, in Sardinian the name means “old mill”. This hilly area used to be made of fields planted with vines and many mills, it was developed at the beginning of the 1980’s.
- Bingia Matta: this neighborhood near the park of castle San Michele, is mostly residential, it was developed at the beginning of the 1970’s.
- San Benedetto: in the 1930’s, east of Cagliari, were constructed the first habitations of this neighborhood. Like many other areas, San Benedetto rapidly spread after the Second World War resulting in the polygonal shape of today.
- La Vega: this area was built in 1930 and resides in the central north part of the city. The name, meaning “vegetable garden”, has Spanish origins, it used to be an open farming area but now it’s home to student housing, the Literature Faculty, Engineering Faculty and the Geology and Mineralogy Institute of the Cagliari University.
- Fonsarda: Fonsarda is a residential and commercial area built in the second part of the 20th century by will of the municipality’s administration who made building public housing a priority for those without a home after the Second World War.
- CEP: the horizon of this neighborhood has five skyscrapers, the neighborhood was built for public housing in mid 1960s with a national concept of civil housing.
- Quartiere Europeo: this neighborhood had borders with Genneruxi, Fonsarda, Pizza Giovanni XXIII, CEP, viale Marconi, hospital San Giuseppe convent, the medieval church of Sant’Alenixedda and also the consulate of Principality of Munich, a seat of the Rotary Club and the Municipal Police.
- Sant’Alenixedda: in this area there is the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari and the Conservatorio di Musica Pierluigi Palestrina, it has borders with Giovanni XXIII square, via Ottone Bacaredda and viale Marconi.
- Genneruxi: built at the bottom of Monte Urpinu at the beginning of the 1970s. History tells the name of the district comes from a small handcrafted metal door that led to an ancient cemetery or church. This residential area is formed by mansions, villas of various sizes and wide green spaces including San Giuliano.
- Monte Urpinu: here is one of the most famous urban parks of Cagliari and resides on the homonymous hill. The Tribunal was built during the fascist age but the rest was developed from the beginning of the 1950s and later in the 1970s.
- Bonaria: named after the hill on which it is built, this neighborhood was inhabited by the Punics, the Carthaginians also built a necropolis which was later used by the Romans as a cave. Bonaria is home of the San Bardilio church, built during the Middle Ages, the fortified citadel built in between 1324 and 1326, was the first capital of the Sardinian kingdom. The name Bonaria has Catalan origins: bon ayre, meaning “good air”.
- Monte Mixi: this neighborhood is built on Monte Mixi, it has borders with Bonaria, Monte Urpinu, La Palma and Sant’Elia.
- La Palma: It rises among the fascinating salt pans and the famous beach of Poetto, here there is the little old Chiesetta of the salt pans and new church of SS.Nome di Maria, built at the beginning of the 1980s. This area is seat of the 5th district of the city that includes seven other neighborhoods.
- Quartiere del Sole: built in the 1970s and 1980s, this neighborhood is near La Palma and is delimited by Poetto, San Bartolomeo and Sant’Elia. Before being transformed into a residential area, it was an area of work for many inhabitants of Cagliari who extracted salt.
- San Bartolomeo: this neighborhood is divided in to a recently built higher zone, which includes via Francesco Alziator, via Loddo Canepa, via Renato Prunas and via Rafaelo Delogu, the lower and more ancient zone includes via San Bartolomeo, via Vergine di Lluc and San Bartolomeo square where there used to be a penal colony in the XIX century. San Bartolomeo has a border with the neighborhoods of Sant’Elia, La Palma and the Quartiere del Sole, it also is seat of the church dedicated to the homonymous saint, built in XVII century.
- Poetto: or Poettu in Sardinian, is the district famous for the homonymous beach in Cagliari. Extended from the Sella del Diavolo until the Quartu or Poetto di Quartu where it changes name because of its four kilometers of length. Poetto is built in between the beach and the old salt pans of Cagliari.
- Pirri: is the municipality of Cagliari, it includes seven districts of Baracca Manna, Villa Doloretta, Monreale, San Giuseppe-Santa Teresa-Parteolla, Is Bingias-Terramaini, Monteleone-Santa Rosalia,Is Campus-Is Corrias.