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Porto Torres: Turris Libisonis 0 Comments

Porto Torres: Turris Libisonis

The discovery of an important Roman and Nuragic settlement during the construction of a new university campus in the San Lorenzo area in Sassari is the end of July 2021 news. In recent decades had already been unearthed the findings of the Roman aqueduct that brought water from Sassari to the most important Roman city in northern Sardinia, second only to the Roman Caralis (Cagliari) in importance and social and commercial prestige: Porto Torres, the Roman Turris Libisonis.

144 km far and 2 hours and 15 minutes drive from the Gabbiano Azzurro Hotel & Suites, Porto Torres is one of the most precious legacies of Roman Sardinia, in the far north-west.

The ancient Roman city of Turris Libisonis, a maritime meeting point and access to the north-west for the city was founded in the centre of the Asinara gulf at the Mannu river mouth, connecting the city with the main Mediterranean ports and in particular with Ostia. The name of Turris was possibly referred to as a Nuragic tower, given that the area has a high concentration of Nuraghi. In 46 BC, the Iulia Turris Libisonis Colony was founded, the only one inhabited by Roman citizens, initially by discharged soldiers, and later on by roman colonisers. At the end of the 1st century AD, it had a port, aqueduct and thermae, temples, court and a building used for performances is mentioned in the inscriptions, all built as a testimony to the well-being of the time of the Roman Empire.

Its famous past is well preserved in the city's Archaeological Park: remains of public buildings and homes, paved streets and tabernae (shops), some incorporated into the Antiquarium Turritanum, the museum. Inside the Archaeological Park are the baths of the Palazzo di Re Barbaro, the Domus of Orpheus, the Do-mus of the Mosaics, the Pallottine Baths and the Maetzke Baths. The layout of the thermae is that of the large imperial thermae with rooms for cold baths, the frigidarium, others for the hot one, the tepidarium and the calidarium, the natationes; pools used for swimming and, there more, rooms for the sauna and massages. It is one of the largest bathing establishments in Roman Sardinia. The domus of Orpheus, with painted plaster and mosaic on the floors, has the precious portrait of Orpheus playing the lyre and a marble mask exhibited in the Antiquarium comes from the Satyr’s Domus. Of the Pallottino thermae, from the end of the third century, four columns remain while its peristyle rises along the road towards the bridge. 135 meters long and with seven arches, Ponte Romano (Roman bridge) is the largest on the island.

The decline of Turris began with the crisis of the Western empire. In the fifth century, it was conquered by the Vandals, in the sixth century the Byzantines took over. The threat of the Langobards led Turris to organize demanding defences and to house military contingents. After the interruption of contacts with Constantinople during the ninth and tenth centuries, the four Sardinian Judicates were formed, including the Torres-Logudoro Judicate, with its first capital in Turris, which also remained the Bishopric from 484 until the end of the Middle Ages.

Due to its river port on the mouth of the Rio Mannu, a position that facilitated the rise of an inhabited centre, the region has been inhabited since prehistoric times, therefore many traces of the Nuragic Civilization with well-preserved Nuraghe may be found there.

We may also find the Domus di Andriolu and the Domus de Janas, decorated with symbols and architectural forms typical of Nurra. Outside the archaeological site, are preserved some necropolises from various eras: the oldest, on a bank of the Rio Mannu, is the necropolis of Su Crucifissu Mannu from the pre-Nuragic era, with characteristic ancient decorations. In modern times, Porto Torres became the SIR petrochemical pole from the years 1961, but the global crisis of 2007 the petrochemical plant was bound to close in 2010. Thus began a period of great conversion to transform the industrial pole into a tourist city. The industrial buildings in the city centre have been removed or destined for other use, while the civil port has been enlarged and prepared for tourist transit. This tourist reorganization is allied to the tourist revival of the Gulf in 1998 when, by eliminating the Asinara maximum security prison, the foundation of the Asinara National Park was established. We talked about Asinara in our article Enrico Mereu, Sculptor Of Asinara Island

Stintino as well, created to receive fishermen who had been transferred from the island of Asinara when it was transformed into a penal colony, took part of the tourism relaunch with its fine white sand, its exciting views, the sea from the blue to turquoise, the contact with a still uncorrupted nature ...

Once upon a time there was a beautiful and cursed island, where time passed slowly, between pristine nature and the complaints of those who lived there. A microcosm made of silences, of colours, which are not only those of the sea. For a long time, blue was the colour of the lone bars, white characterized the walls and tears shed. Today the prevailing colour on the island is the Mediterranean Scrub green: it is a Park without trees, with its white donkeys, its shelters and its stories...” (Chiara Boni – on Asinara Penal Colony)

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Written by Daniela Toti

Photo of the Archeosite Turris Libisonis taken from the web

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