Witches, legends and what not – castles in Sardinia will have you intrigued.
Are you planning your getaway trip to the magical Italian island of Sardinia? Or are you just hankering for more information on this dream vacation spot so you can jot down notes in your travel to-do-and-to-see list? Either way, learning more about the castles in Sardinia only provides more fodder for your Sardinia travel plans— whether the trip happens sooner or later!
Sardinian history is brimming with notable events and turbulent times. The castles in Sardinia have a fascinating history, and each has its own story to tell. While I struggle to pick my favorite castle in Sardinia, I have no problem telling you about my top 19 favorite castles.
Wouldn’t it work better if I had a list of top 20? It would, but then it wouldn’t be my honest list! There are 82 castles in Sardinia, nearly all built during the Middle Ages. These are my hand-picked favorite castles in Sardinia— all are symbols of Sardinia, and all are where time stands still.
Ready to be lost among the vestiges of the past? Here is my list of the best castles in Sardinia that I hold near and dear to my heart.
Table of Contents
19 Must Visit Castles In Sardinia
Castello di Acquafredda – Siliqua
Aquafredda is one of the most famous castles in Sardinia.
The Castle of Acquafredda goes by another name for the locals— Ugolino della Gherardesca. While that may sound like a mouthful, it refers to the Divine Comedy written by Dante, as he mentioned a Tuscan nobleman.
The nobleman Ugolino, who resided in the castle for years, was rumored to be that same Tuscan nobleman from Dante’s comedy. However, the castle takes its real name from the spring flowing from the rocks right on the hillside.
Today, the Castle of Acquafredda is still a stunning monument sitting atop a hill in Siliqua with volcanic origin. Here in the southwest of Sardinia, from sunrise to sunset, you can watch the shadow of this castle shrink and grow along the valley.
The castle is located about 4 km from the center of Siliqua. It is open daily and there is a small fee to visit. You can also join one of the guided tours that depart regularly from the castle itself.
For a guided tour of Acquafredda Castle departing from Cagliari, click here.
Castello dei Doria – Monteleone Rocca Doria
The Castle of Doria lies in Monteleone Rocca Doria, in northwest Sardinia and was commissioned in the late 12th century or early 13th century for the prestigious Doria Family of Genoa. This family was seeking to consolidate their presence in the northwest of the island of Sardinia; they did so by erecting a network of castles, as well as impressive fortified residences.
It is estimated by archeologists that the fortified wall around the castle continued for nearly 800 meters and that there were ten circular towers built for guards to be stationed as lookouts.
Under siege in the mid-1400s by the Crown of Aragon, the castle was destroyed. Today, the Castello dei Doria is in ruins; however, there are still some gorgeous stone walls and an archway to look at.
The castle lies at a minute walk from the tiny village. It is free to visit.
The Doria contributed to the construction of more castles in Sardinia. The one in Chiaramonti is particularly impressive. It was built between the 12th and the 13th century, bought by the Aragonese in 1348 and once again became property of the Doria in 1350. it is located in the highest part of the village at 465 meters above sea level. Casteldoria is located in Santa Maria Coghinas.
Castello della Fava – Posada
The Castle of Fava is one of the most well-preserved castles in Sardinia. Lying in the northeast of Sardinia, this medieval fortress sits on a hill looking over the town of Posada.
There is a wonderful story about how the Castle of Fava—named after fava beans— got its name. As the story goes, in the year 1300, a Turkish fleet laid siege on the fortified village of Posada. Once the villagers ran out of food, they fed their last bag of beans to a pigeon so that no one would fight over the last morsels.
However, the bird couldn’t fly far and actually fell into the enemy’s camp with a swollen and full stomach. The Turkish enemy assumed that the villagers had bountiful resources and could outlast them, so they picked up and left! Ergo, the Castle of Beans! Ah, what a fun story.
Regardless of the name, the Castle of Fava is one of the most beautiful in Sardinia. Constructed out of barely-worked stones, this castle is stately and striking.
The castle is open daily from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm and from 3:00 to 6:00 pm. There is a small fee to visit.
You should also read my post A Quick Guide To Posada, Sardinia.
Castello San Michele – Cagliari
This is one of the castles in Sardinia I have the fondest memories of – I was just a child the first time I visited.
The Castle of San Michele is situated right on the hill of San Michele in the capital city of Cagliari. It has been lovingly restored and stands tall in its majestic glory.
The Castle of San Michele was built in the 10th century as a private residence for a noble Aragonese family, and as a place of protection and defense from enemies. More than once throughout the centuries, it did serve as a hospital for the sick. Now, the Castle of San Michele is privately owned. Surrounded by a pine forest, it has a lovely garden to tour.
The Castle of San Michele hosts many arts and cultural events and exhibits throughout the year and is an elegant place to catch a show! Need a date night option? Amp up the romance by catching a show in a real-life, true-blue castle.
The castle is open from 4:00 to 9:00 pm Mondays to Friday and from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and from 4:00 to 9:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. There is a small admission fee to visit.
Check out my post 15 Great Things To Do In Cagliari, Sardinia.
Castello Serravalle – Bosa
Of all the castles in Sardinia, this is the one that has the best views.
Perched atop of the Serravalle hill lies the Castle of Serravalle— also called the Castle of Malaspina—which has protected the village of Bosa since 1112. After several renovations, only the walls and towers remain today, as well as some beautiful frescoes seen in the palatine chapel that was built in the 14th century. The view from the top is stunning as well, as this castle was built 81 meters above sea level.
The castle is open daily though opening times vary with the season. There is a small fee to visit.
Consider joining this guided tour of Bosa departing from Cagliari.
Make sure to check out my post What To See And Do In Bosa Sardinia.
Castello dei Doria – Castelsardo
The Castle of Doria was constructed in 1102 and has a total of 17 towers. It was built for the Genoese Doria family and has been perfectly preserved. Situated in Castelsardo on the northern coast of Sardinia, Castello dei Doria houses the Museum of the Mediterranean Weave. This is one of the must-see castles in Sardinia! It’s a true fairy-tale castle, although there are few ruins left of the fortress.
The infamous tower has been well preserved. It still stands 20 meters high and is constructed in a pentagonal layout.
According to local legend, there was a maze of underground tunnels below the castle that have many rumors around them. These tunnels were said to be where the Doria family minted coins and stored their gold!
The opening times vary seasonally from either 9:00 or 10:00 am to 5:00 and 7:30 pm and even midnight in the summer months. There is a small admission fee which includes tickets to the adjoint museum.
For more information, read my post A Quick Guide To Castelsardo.
Castello di Burgos – Burgos
The Castle of Burgos dwells right in the heart of Sardinia. It proudly stands atop of a 647-meter high granite hillside. On top of this hill, only three walls and a stark tower remain. In my opinion, hiking up to the Castle Burgos makes for a perfect activity. You’ll get your heart pumping and bask in the sweeping views of the Sardinia landscape below.
The castle is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm and from 2:30 to 6:00 pm. There is a small admission fee and you can get a combined ticket to also visit the nearby Castles of Sardinia museum.
You should also read my post The Ultimate Guide To Burgos, Sardinia.
Castello di Monreale – Sardara
The Castle of Monreale sits atop a hill in the Campidano plain. From this castle, you’ll have a view that reaches all the way to Cagliari! For reference, the hill itself is 280 meters high.
Built in a pentagonal shape, the Castle of Monreale was once encompassed by a few round and square towers. Today, only the external walls and the ground floor are visible. The ruins of the village that once lay at the foot of the hill can still be seen and explored.
The Castle of Monreale is one of the best spots in Sardinia to catch a sunset. If you’re in the mood to witness a painting brought to life, with velvety vivid hues of crimson, peach, and lavender, then head over to Castello Monreale.
The castle is located a bit outside of Sardara. It is free to visit.
Castello di Sanluri – Sanluri
Out of the 82 castles in Sardinia, the Castello di Sanluri is the only one still habitable! This castle was built during the 14th century and is situated 50 kilometers north of the capital city of Cagliari.
Castello di Sanluri is visually arresting. Each side of the quadrangular castle stands 26 meters high and has four crenelated towers. The inside of the castle is a testament to Sardinia’s past. There are multiple rooms to visit styled in grand renaissance decor, including a hunting room and the queen’s room. This castle has been turned into a museum and has rooms dedicated to relics, wax models, and paintings.
The castle is open daily from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and from 4:00 to 7:30 pm. There is a small admission fee to visit.
Castello Siviller – Villasor
The Castello Siviller in Villasor is an Aragonese Gothic castle, built in the early 1400s in the south of Sardinia. Unlike most of the Sardinian castles on my list, this one is not built on a hillside, but instead in the historic center of the town of Villasor.
As the Castle of Villasor is still in excellent condition, it hosts arts and culture events periodically throughout the year, especially in its courtyards. It was built as a complex with an internal and external courtyard, with two stories and many wings.
Its external appearance is still exceptionally medieval; however, the internal parts have been modified and updated dozens of times throughout the centuries.
Guided tours of the castle are available if booked in advance. You will have to send your request either via fax at +39 070 9647331 or via email to the Responsabile dell’Area Socio-culturale, D.ssa Bianca Maria Murtas [email protected] or [email protected]
Castello di Baratuli – Monastir
The Castello di Baratuli was built over a previous Nuragic settlement on top of Mount Oladri. Situated in Monastir in the north of Sardinia, the Castle of Baratuli was constructed in the middle of the 12th century; however, it was destroyed in 1308 by the Pisans. All that’s left now is lonesome rubble.
In recent years, the Castle of Baratuli has been the site of many excavations and restorations. When you visit the Castle of Baratuli today, you’ll only see the base of the castle – stones that reach no higher than a couple of meters. However, the hike up to see the ruins will provide you with romantic and sweeping views of the Sardinian countryside below. It’s well worth the trip up!
The castle is open daily from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and from 4:00 to 7:00 pm. There is no admission fee.
Castello Orguglioso o di Sassai – Silius
The Castello Orguglioso o di Sassai is lauded for its position in a highly strategic location, protruding from the hillside in such a way that it can monitor and guard the territories of Silius, San Nicolas Gerrei, Ballao, and Goni. That’s a lot of territory to cover!
Erected in the 13th century, the Castello Orguglioso only remained active for roughly 100 years, and the last 30 years was under Spanish Rule.
While much of the castle has fallen into disrepair over the centuries, an impressive stone structure remains relatively intact thanks to many restorations. There are even rooms that can be toured, as well as the perimeter and diving walls, a tower, and a kitchen. In fact, it is home to the only medieval oven in Sardinia!
Wondering how the castle got its name? There’s a legend that the countess died under a collapse of walls during a siege and still haunts the castle crying among the ruins.
Should you want to visit the castle, you will have to call in advance. The number to call is +39 070 959006
Castle of Gioiosa Guardia – Villamassargia
The Castle of Gioiosa Guardia juts out from the landscape in southwestern Sardinia in a yearning manner, protruding in the unmistakable way that only decrepit castles can. With a bevy of haggard stones, the Castle of Gioiosa Guardia has been left relatively threadbare.
That in no way, shape, or form detracts from its beauty. The Castle of Gioiosa Guardia is both stoic and lovely.
For a bit of background, this castle was likely built around 1250 and was occupied only for a short period during the late 1290s. In later centuries, the Castle of Gioiosa Guardia passed to Aragonese feudal lords.
Unfortunately there is no available information regarding the opening times and fees. Your best bet is to call the Comune di Villamassargia at +39 07817580204 and enquire.
Castello di Quirra – Villaputzu
The Castle of Quirra sits above the beach of Murtas, which is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the village of Villaputzu. It’s one of the lesser known castles in Sardinia and chances are if you visit you’ll have it all to yourself.
The castle is located at 296 meters above sea level, so you can expect magnificent coastal views from there. It was built in the first half of the 13th century and occupied by the Pisans until 1324 – that’s when the Aragonese, led by Francisco Carroz, conquered the castle.
While the Castle of Quirra once stood in splendor and glory, today, only the perimeter walls are left.
The castle is located outside of Villaputzu, a 25 minutes drive. It is free to access. You will have to follow a steep uphill road from the intersection where you can park your car.
Castello di Barumele – Ales
Castello di Ales goes by another name – the Barumele Castle. This medieval castle was built on the remnants of a Byzantine fortress and is one of the most intriguing castles in Sardinia.
Today, it appears to us as a single solitary tower, reaching just a few meters in height. This is actually part of a decagonal tower that is quite impressive architecturally! Decagonal? Who does that these days!
Moreover, there are just a few stones scattered around the hilltop that are the remains of the perimeter wall. While you don’t really picture a wall when you see a smattering of stones, they are reminders of the salient wall that used to be there.
The castle is located 4 minutes drive south of Ales. It is free to access.
Castello Salvaterra – Iglesias
The Castle of Salvaterra has another name – the Castle of San Guantino. It was built in the 13th century for Count Ugolino. Sweeping upward on the Salvaterra hill, it stands in an elevated position over the rest of the town.
Castello Salvaterra underwent numerous renovations, and in the 19th century, it was joined with a villa and a glass factory!
The castle is open Monday to Saturday from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm and from 3:30 to 7:30 pm. You can get a combined ticket to visit the castle as well as other museums and mines in the area of Iglesias.
Castello di Medusa – Lotzorai
Surging upward from central Sardinia’s verdant landscape rests the ruins of a 4th-century castle. The Castle of Medusa is encompassed by hills, ravines, and stunning woodland. There are even limestone cliffs ridden with caves!
With a name like Medusa, I’m sure you’re a little curious about this castle, right? While not named after the Greek mythological figure with snakes for hair, there was an ancient Sardinian pagan goddess called Medusa, as well as a Princess Medusa.
According to legend, Phorco, a man who traveled from Africa, built this castle so he could proclaim himself the king of all of Sardinia. He had a daughter named Princess Medusa, who happened to be a witch who could manipulate the world with magic. When she was killed, it was said that her ghost could turn those who came to steal her treasure into stone. Or so the story goes….
Apparently, the Castle of Medusa was filled with ghosts, demons, and treasures! Locals still believe there is treasure to be found on the castle grounds, but they are protected by deadly demon flies.
The castle is located within easy walking distance from the center of Lotzorai. Access is free.
A castle by the same name exists in Samugheo, also in Sardinia.
Castello Giudicale – Las Plassas
Not far from Barumini, one of the most famous nuraghe in Sardinia, lies one of the lesser known castles in Sardinia.
On top of a nearly perfect conical hill in the south of Sardinia in the Marmilla region lie the fragments of the Castle of Giudicale, also called the Marmilla Castle. While the village of Las Plassas is one of the smallest villages in Sardinia, with only 250 citizens, it is a positively idyllic area to visit. Seeing the remains of this castle balanced on top of the conical hilltop is a once in a lifetime experience. It’s a vision!
The castle is located about 2 minutes drive (or 20 minutes walk) from Las Plassas. Access is free.
Castello Etzu – Cuglieri
The Castle of Etzu – often referred to as the Casteddu Etzu – translates to the “Old Castle” in Sardinian. It has been left in rubble and wreckage, with just enough stones remaining that you can see the shell of a castle.
There are the leftovers of towers, walls, and subterranean rooms. From the castle itself, you can take in incredible panoramic views of Sardinia’s western coastline below.
Originally built in 1186, there is a sad legend surrounding this castle. In the underground rooms, a noble child and his nanny stayed hidden while under siege for days – until they died. On windy nights, legend has it that you can hear lullabies being sung to the child. Yikes!
The castle is located about 7 minutes drive out of Cuglieri. Access is free.
Castello di Pontes – Galtellì
The Castle of Pontes dwells on the eastern coast of Sardinia, near the central region. Archeologists date the origin of this castle to 1070 as a Roman fortification, and there is evidence that the castle was inhabited up until the 15th century. All that remains today are sections of a ruined wall, a corner tower, and a few underground cisterns.
The remains are all jagged and jut out of the hillside irregularly. It’s almost as if the hilltop is barbed with these chunks of stone.
The castle is located 3 minutes drive outside of Galtellì. For information about visiting, get in touch with the tourism information office which is open Tuesdays to Fridays from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and from 3:30 to 6:30 pm at +39 0784 90150
Are you planning a trip to Sardinia? Make sure to read my other posts:
- Where Is Sardinia?
- The History Of Sardinia And Where To Discover It
- How To Get To Sardinia: Routes From Italy And Europe
- What You Should Know Before Traveling To Sardinia
- 10 Absolutely Unmissable Things To Do In Sardinia
- The Most Interesting Archeological Sites In Sardinia
- The Most Beautiful Churches in Sardinia
- The Nicest Small Towns And Cities In Sardinia
- The 15 Best Beaches In Sardinia
- What To See And Do In Alghero Sardinia
- Your Guide To The Astounding Island Of Asinara
- Where To Take The Best Pictures Of Sardinia