Ancient city of Tharros
A Nuragic village, Phoenician commercial hub, Carthaginian fortress, urbs romana (Roman town), Byzantine main city, capital of the Kingdom of Arborea. In Tharros, you will travel back in time to discover two thousand years of Sardinian history, from the Nuragic era to the middle of the 11th century, when, in an effort to escape the Saracen attacks, it was abandoned. In the southern offshoot of the Peninsula of Sinis, in the territory of Cabras, washed by the uncontaminated sea of the protected area, stand the ruins of the ancient settlement, one of most important in the Mediterranean, where excavations continue to unearth discoveries and hints of reconstruction work. It is a natural amphitheatre surrounded by the hills of Su Muru Mannu and the tower of San Giovanni and by the isthmus of the Promontory of Capo San Marco.
The town was always inhabited, from its foundation (8th century BC) to its abandonment (1070 AD). Today, it is an open-air museum. Nuragic evidence (two towers and a village) prove that the area was inhabited before the Phoenician-Punic period, the remains of which are linked to fortifications and funeral rituals: two necropolises, near Capo San Marco and the beach of San Giovanni, and the tophet, a graveyard sanctuary for children and new-born babies, where hundreds of cinerary urns were found. The Carthaginians added votive stones, the Romans built an amphitheatre over it, very little of which still remains. The wealth of grave goods did not escape the attention of the tomb-raiders: in 1851, Lord Vernon pillaged treasures from 4 tombs – jewels, precious stones, pots – triggering a gold hunt among the local inhabitants. Part of the loot is in the archaeological museums of Cabras and Cagliari and at the Antiquarium Arborense in Oristano.
Moving along the paved roads with channels that allow the flow of water, you can admire the urbs romana (Roman town). It reached its maximum splendour in the 3rd century AD, a period in which majestic buildings were constructed: you can visit two thermal baths by the sea (those of the Convento Vecchio (Old Convent) are monumental) and the castellum aquae, a distribution reservoir for the aqueduct, also built by the Romans. You will be impressed by the temple with Doric lesenes and, alongside a third temple, you will be struck by the tetrastyle one by the sea: two of its columns are still standing. Only the foundations of the rest still remain. The columns were used again in other buildings, like in the Church of Santa Giusta. The foundations of houses and workshops can be found on the hillside: walking along the Cardo and Decumanus maximus, you can imagine life and the busy productive activities that went on two thousand years ago.