Wandering Sardinia

Parco Archeologico di Turris Libisonis was a Roman colony in the 1st century bc, taking advantage of the fine port still used by ferries and cruise ships in Porto Torres today.

Turris Libisonis: A Roman Colony in Porto Torres

Updated Oct 24, 2019

Porto Torries lies on the northeast coast of Sardinia. From here you can take ferries to Ajaccio, Barcelona, Civitavecchia, Genoa, Porto Vecchio, and Toulon.

Perhaps you didn’t know Porto Torres had a famous Roman site right near the port. It’s called Parco Archeologico di Turris Libisonis. It’s being upgraded at the moment, so pay no attention to the former reports of a lack of English explanations; we were well informed by pages written in English about the excavations, passed out with our tickets. For a more in depth experience, you can always hire your own Sardinia guide.

Turris Libisonis has been a Roman colony since the 1st century BC, a town for only Roman citizens.

Nearby you’ll also see the remains of a Roman bridge that just happens to be the largest in Sardinia, spanning over 500 feet over the Rio Mannu.

Even the 11th century Basilica San Gavino in town has several Roman sarcophagi in its crypt. It’s the largest Romanesque church in Sardinia.

Let’s take a look at the site.

roman buildings, turris libisonis
Roman Buildings: Parco Archeologico di Turris Libisonis

The buildings here are in quite decent shape, considering we’re near the center of town, and ferries dock just to the north. The excavations end at the train line. Who knows what’s been destroyed by our rush towards modernity?

Here’s what the Sardinia tourist bureau has to say about the primary buildings and the Roman port:

Under the long Roman dominion, the town underwent several urban renewals: building of the road system, three thermal baths, an aqueduct and the creation of a port where trade relationships with Ostia took place. The colony, between the end of the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, was second only to Caralis for number of inhabitants, grandeur and maritime traffic. Buildings that will surprise you with their architectural perfection and evocative power are the domus di Orfeo and the Terme di Pallottino thermal baths as well as the central ones, in an area known as Palazzo di Re Barbaro, in which you will find large rooms with baths and elegant mosaics. ~ Roman town of Turris Libisonis

The section of Roman road is quite well preserved:

roman road in porto torres
Roman Road: Parco Archeologico di Turris Libisonis

Antiquarium Turritano, a covered area within the excavation holds lots of interesting aspects of the Roman town. Hot tub anyone?:

basin with mosaics
Mosaic Basin: Parco Archeologico di Turris Libisonis

Beyond Turris Libisonis

The site of Turris Libisonis, a visit to the little museum, and a walk out to the bridge won’t take you all day. If you have a car you can take a trip out of town and see one of the oldest sites in Sardinia, the ziggurat of Monte d’Accoddi. If you’d like to wedge a great lunch between the two sites, have it at Tenuto Li Lioni. This makes a very fine day out in Northeastern Sardinia.

More about Sardinian archaeology

Monte d'Accoddi Guide

Santa Sabina Church & Nuraghe

Nuraghe Losa: Abbasanta

Bonorva Finds a Roman City

Basilica of San Saturnino

Fordongianus: The Living Ruins of a Roman Spa

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