Sardinia is rich in archeological ruins, since it was inhabited since the dawn of times. From the most famous nuraghe and roman cities to the less-known Domus de Janas and menhir parks, there is no shortage of ancient remains to visit here.
One of my favorite, which I have only recently discovered, is the Tempio di Antas. This is actually a quite large archeological park, with ruins spanning time from the Nuragic era to the Roman Imperial ages. The area takes its name from its main attraction, the Temple of Antas, but it is full of other wonders that all deserve some of your time.
The archeological park is located about 10 km (6.2 miles) from Fluminimaggiore, a place where both Punic and Romans settled down thanks to the rich lead and iron mines in the area.
The Tempio di Antas itself is a sanctuary that was dedicated to a Sardinian deity, Sardus Pater Babai – identified with the Punic God Sid Addir – who was a warrior and farmer and thought to be the father and protector of all Sardinian people. The temple was quite famous and has been used throughout various eras and by several civilizations, from the local prehistoric tribes to the Punic and Romans later on.
Unfortunately, time has had a strong impact on the building: the temple we can visit and see now is 90% made of cement, a reconstruction made in 1967 by modern people. It nevertheless remains an incredible place to visit, beautifully immersed in nature, away from the crowds and ideal to spend a day away from the city. Curious to find out more? Continue reading, then!
Make sure to read my posts The Best Hidden Gems In Sardinia and The Most Interesting Archeological Sites In Sardinia.
The History Of The Tempio Di Antas
The Tempio di Antas is actually of Punic origins and it’s likely built over an older sanctuary where the Nuragic used to pray to their deities – many traces in the area point to the cult of the Sardus Pater, but also to the Water Goddess’ cults. It was built around 500 BC and then renewed in 300 BC – it’s highly likely that it was an important temple for the Punic people.
After the Punic were defeated and Sardinia was conquered – not effortlessly – by the Romans, the temple underwent another renovation cycle, under Augustus in the last few years BC and then again under Caracalla, in the 3rd century AD.
The ruins of the Tempio di Antas were firstly discovered in the 1960s by La Marmora, who was in charge of mapping Sardinia and entrusted the excavations – for which he didn’t have time, nor men available – to the Cagliari architect Gaetano Cima. Several rounds of digging have brought to light the temple remains, a Nuragic village, and countless relics and tools, especially coins and amulets.
What To See In The Tempio Di Antas Archeological Park
The Roman Tempio Di Antas
The Roman temple was built around 38 BC, under Caesar Augustus, and later renovated in the 3rd century AD. There isn’t much left from the original structure, except some columns’ bases, the two purifying basins, and a part of a mosaic on the floor. However, several trinkets, coins, and tools have been found all around the area. The temple that we can visit nowadays is a modern reconstruction made in the 1900s, to show how the temple would have looked in the past.
The Punic Temple
The Punic temple was built around the 5th century BC, dedicated to the Punic God Sid Addir Babai, which was a deity similar to the local Sardus Pater. There is not much left of this temple, except some stairs and part of the sacrificial altar – which was, however, rebuilt by the Romans.
The Nuragic Necropolis
What is left of the Nuragic Necropolis is most probably just a tiny part of the original one. There are three Roman tombs there, where people have been buried in a sitting – or kneeling – position, and a cenotaph, a tomb without a body that served as a storage place for tools and relics, necessary for the deceased’s afterlife. The necropolis structure is rare in Sardinia and resembles the Monti Prama necropolis, one of the biggest discoveries in Sardinian archeology.
The Nuragic Village
The Nuragic village has never been officially excavated, but researchers were able to make some deductions judging from what still lies on the surface. It was likely built around 1200 BC and again inhabited during Roman times. The houses all have a round base and were made of mud mortar. There are also some tombs in the area, suggesting another necropolis or a cemetery.
The Roman Quarries
This is where the Romans used to extract and refine the limestone that was likely used to build the temple. Limestone is a fragile and not very durable rock, which explains why the temple had to be renovated so frequently and almost disappeared throughout the centuries. The blocks of limestone were probably cut with simple tools and then moved to the construction site with ox-drawn charts.
The Ancient Oak
If you follow one of the many easy hiking trails in the area, you will soon find yourself in the woods and be immersed in a beautiful forest. A sight you can’t miss is the multi-centenary oak tree. It has been guarding the area since who knows when, and it deserves some pictures – it’s really impressive!
The Roman Road
What could Romans do after conquering an area, if not build a sturdy road? The path was an ancient route, used since the Nuragic times to reach the Su Mannau Caves – where the local tribes would celebrate their rites dedicated to water and nature in general – and the Romans just improved it for the better: the road has survived the test of the centuries! It now makes for a nice hiking trail that will take you from the temple to the caves.
Su Mannau Caves
The caves are an ancient site where prehistoric tribes sought shelter and celebrated their religious rites, mostly linked to the water. It isn’t part of the archeological park, but it can be visited by following the Roman road and by paying an extra ticket.
The caves are particularly interesting and can be visited on guided tours that depart directly from the gate at 10:45 and 11:40 am; 12:45, 2:15, 3:30 and 4:45 pm. Admission is €10 and includes the guided visit.
Practical Info For Visiting
Tempio di Antas opening hours and tickets
The opening hours of the Tempio di Antas vary depending on the season. Tickets are €4 (excluding the museum and the caves). Should you want to visit the ethnographic museum you can get a combined ticket that costs €5. The caves are separated and need another ticket to buy on site.
Here are the opening hours:
July to September: every day, 9:30 am to 7:30 pm
April to June and October: 9:30 am to 5:30 pm
November to March: every day except Mondays, 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.
Guided tours are available every day but only if booked beforehand. You can send your request to [email protected] – that’s the company that manages the site.
How to explore the archeological area
The archeological area isn’t excessively huge and all attractions are close to one another, but you will need to walk a bit, so wear comfortable clothes and enjoy your day. The archeological area is marked with several trails that are easy to follow and not challenging, but you will need to walk everywhere, so keep this in mind if you have mobility issues.
If you plan to explore the whole area, the total distance you will have to walk is about 12 km (roughly 7.5 miles). If you also want to get to the Su Mannau caves, you’ll have two options: follow the Roman road – a steep but straightforward path, maybe a little tiring and challenging on the way back up to the temple; or walk on a circular hiking trail of about 8 km (5 miles) that is similarly steep but nor as clearly marked. It’s easy to follow if you download the track, which can be found here.
How to get there
Public transportation in the area is close to nonexistent, so your best option is to get there by car. From Cagliari, follow State Road SS130 to Iglesias, then SS126 to Fluminimaggiore. Beware: after Iglesias, the road gets very windy.
Things to bring and wear when visiting the Tempio di Antas
Keep in mind that you will need to walk a lot while in the Antas archeological area, so be sure to stay hydrated and bring plenty of water. Also, make sure to wear your sunblock and reapply it throughout the day: the sun can be really nasty to your skin if you don’t take care of it! Bring a hat to shade your face and wear comfortable breathable clothes and hiking or at least very good walking shoes.
Don’t forget some light snacks and a packed lunch – you’ll likely get hungry with all that walking around! If you forget, there is a lovely cafè in the area, but just bring some extra – it’s never a bad idea. In case you want to buy something to remember the day, the café also has a souvenir shop.
Toilets and free parking are available on site.
Last but not least, every corner of Antas Archeological Park is interesting and unique: make sure to bring your camera and take a lot of pictures.