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The Route Of 100 Towers 0 Comments

The Route Of 100 Towers

The Sardinian coastal towers are fortified constructions that used to be a defense, sighting and communication system along the coasts of the island, from the early Middle Ages (period between 476 and 1000 AD) until the mid-nineteenth century.

Being Sardinia an ever since land of conquest, pirates and privateers’ raids too began in the eighth century. The first attack dates back to 705, during the Byzantine domination which took them by surprise, costing a substantial loot in human lives but also in goods and dozens of men and women were kidnapped to be reduced to slaves. During the next fifty years the attacks intensified and more and more began to build the first defense towers and castles along the coasts of Sardinia.

Later also the Sardinian Judicates of Torres, Cagliari, Gallura and Arborea - the forms of government of Sardinia from the eighth to the fifteenth century - and then the maritime republics of Pisa and Genoa, built numerous coastal fortifications of first defense which, at the beginning of the Spanish domination (1479), amounted to about sixty.

The location of the towers had the highest density of military bases in the gulfs of Cagliari, Oristano, Alghero and Asinara, as well as in Bosa. Each of them visually communicated with the two neighbors and on low visibility days with fire signals, flames or smoke were used, as well as acoustic signals produced by horns and bells and a pre-established code on the extent of the possible enemy attack. A large stretch of coast going from Santa Teresa di Gallura to Siniscola did not need coastal protection, perhaps due to the proximity of the Italian peninsula which represented a deterrent to incursions.

The towers (with the exception of Porto Torres one, which is hexagonal, and the one of Salinas of Muravera and Pischeredda of Nurachi, which are square) have a circular plan; a choice that ensured the best resistance to cannon fire that hit the wall obliquely with less damage. 

And are these towers along the coasts of Sardinia that Nicola Melis, with a very interesting traveling trip, has studied and proposes for an excursion of 1,284 kilometers around Sardinia with 70 stages, 45 days of a demanding journey that runs along the sea for almost the entire journey, touching the coastal towers of the island, making the complete tour of the island, counterclockwise, starting from Cagliari and returning to Cagliari.

It is called The Route of 100 Towers, but being a circular path, the departures, as well as from Cagliari, can also be from Arbatax, OlbiaCastelsardo, Porto Torres, Oristano, Alghero, Carloforte, Calasetta or Sant’Antioco.

By foot but not only: it can also be completed by bike, canoe and horse, organized to be covered, as mentioned, in 70 official stages, designed to enjoy and get to know Sardinia and its coasts.

The central characters of the Route are indeed the coastal towers of Sardinia, sentinels and references that have always constituted the defensive, sighting and communication structure of the Sardinia coast. The route is divided into two paths, east and west, which can also be traveled separately.

The Eastern Way starts from Cagliari and reaches Gallura, for 597 km, getting lost in the Mediterranean Scrub. The path runs along: Via Degli Angeli - Via Sarcapos - Via Ogliastra - Via Smeralda.

The Western Way, on the other hand, develops from Castelsardo to Cagliari. It develops for a total length of 634 km. From Castelsardo to Cagliari the path runs along: Via Catalana - Via Degli Angeli - Via Costa Delle Miniere - Via Del Martirio.

The Route of 100 Towers is currently not signposted and must be tackled with the right physical preparation because some stretches can be as long as 25 km between one structure and another. But the reward is a wonderful experience. As Nicola Melis states, the hiker’s walk is accompanied for long tracts by beaches of small granite and quartz crystals, and escorted by untouched dunes on a fantastic journey. The landscapes have not yet been transformed by man and allow fantastic glimpses of Sardinia's true identity. Along dirt roads and small country roads, always keeping the sea on the side. Gradually, along the path of the coastal towers, you will encounter the most beautiful landscapes of the Sardinian coast, so characteristic and unique.

“The sweet serenity of this tower in its inner knowledge in deserving Time. An unshakable faith in looking up at the sky and waiting for the evening. What does the Tower have that  I don't?” (Fabrizio Caramagna)

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Written by Daniela Toti

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