Tharros

Tharros is an ancient Phoenician-Roman Port on the Sinis Penninsula of Sardinia near Cabras. On a fine spring day the iconic Corinthian columns of Tharros seem to hold up the sky to keep it from falling upon the shimmering waters of the Mediterranean. The columns are fake. Don’t let that stop you from feeling the romance of gazing at ruins.

tharros columns
The iconic columns at Tharros are fake

But oh, the site! It is spectacularly situated on a dagger of land forming a natural breakwater for the Bay of Oristano. To the west, beyond the fake columns, the sea can be rough; waters to the east are called the “mare morte” or the dead sea.

You can park your car and walk the road uphill towards the Spanish tower and the archaeological site. You’ll see the beach on your right. On a breezy spring day, the waves keep folks away.

tharros beach
Tharros: Beach and Spanish Tower

When you arrive, the ticket office and bookstore will appear on your left. There are several options for tickets. We suggest you buy a combined ticket that also allows entry to the Museo Civico di Cabras, where you can see finds from Tharros as well as the not-to-miss exhibit on the Giants of Monte Prama. Going inside the Spanish Tower also requires a small charge. Here are the Opening Hours of Tharros and entrance fees.

When to Go to Tharros

Spring days bring wildflowers, and May is perfect for them. They do add color to the basaltic building materials. Even early spring is fine for climbing around, as it doesn’t get shockingly cold even in February. Easter is a great time for Carnival festivals. For climate information and the latest weather, See: Oristano Travel Weather and Climate.

tharros ruins with poppies
Tharros in Springtime

Notes on Seeing Tharros

The occupation of Tharros: founded by the Phoenicians in the 8th century BC, followed by Punics, Romans, and eventually destroyed by Saracen raiders—brings to sharp focus the realization of the native population that invaders always attacked from the sea. If you want to know the true Sardinian culture, you must head inland, where conditions were relatively stable for many centuries.

When you look over what’s left of this ancient port city you might wonder, “where did it all go?” Stones were reused in later settlements and cities; why go to all the trouble to quarry and form the blocks you need when you could just walk off with a few? Still, take a free tour and the guide will point out the interesting features of Tharros, like the tophet, the bath installations, the temple foundations, and an area with houses and artisan workshops.

The Cardo Maximo, seen below, was the principal road to the city. It is a typical road in the style of the Romans, built to last forever while running straight up a hill. You didn’t waste time skirting hills in Roman times, you just plowed straight ahead, making your road the shortest distance between two targeted points.

cardo maximo
Cardo Maximo, the main Roman road in Tharros

Attractions Near Tharros

When you drove in, on your right you saw Sardinia’s second oldest church, the early-Christian church of San Giovanni dating back to the 5th Century (although a large part of what you see are modifications performed in the 9th and 10th centuries.

san giovanni church tharros
Church of San Giovanni

In the town of San Giovanni you’ll find more beaches, as well as many restaurants and cafes.

The town of Cabras skirts a lagoon which is known for its Mullet. Not only are the mullet eaten, but roe is dried and used by grating over pasta or cut into chunks added to salads. It’s called Bottarga di Muggine (Gray Mullet Roe).

To see the rest of the artifacts from Tharros as well as the rest of the Giants of Monte Prama, you’ll have to visit the Archaeological Museum of Cagliari. There are also some artifact in the British Museum in London.

Enloy your trip to Tharros and the Sinis Peninsula.

Tharros originally appeared on wanderingsardinia.com May 09, 2016, © James Martin

Archaeology, Beaches

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