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Sacred Wells

What is a Sacred Well?

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Sacred wells pop up on the archaeologist’s radar in the Nuragic Iron Age (X-IX Century BC). These are votive spring temples found in different areas of Sardinia, an island with limited water resources, especially in summer. Many have a domed cover at the top that allowed the observation of the sun and stars. Archaeologists believed that the Nuragic people gathered around the well temples in times of special celebrations to worship the Mother Goddess, performing the so called Cult of water, a rite that involved the use of the spring water. A large number of votive bronze figurines were found by archeologists inside the sacred wells. These you’ll find displayed in several museums around the island.

The temples are made of finely worked, circular stone walls that enclose the underground well. The spring water is reached by a staircase with steps built inside the ground. Note the stonework in the picture of Santa Cristina below. Take note of the stonework; you can’t shove a piece of paper between these superbly worked stones from the Iron Age.

Two of the best sacred wells are Santa Cristina Archaeological Park, in the central part of the island, and Su Tempiesu, in the mountains.

How to Visit Santa Cristina Archaeological Park

I recommend a visit to Santa Cristina because it is part of a complex that includes a Nuraghe and village and is just off the SS131 superstrada, 4 km southeast of the town of Paulilatino. Just after you exit the superstrada you’ll find a large parking lot and  a pleasant bar with a view of the site, a pilgrimage church from the 1200s and a very good restaurant as well as a bookshop. Santa Cristina is my favorite highway off-ramp attraction in Sardinia.

The landscape is flat and you’ll have no problems strolling around the complex. The area has good shade, essential on a summer visit. Carry plenty of water or be prepared to buy a bottle at the bar.


At A Glance

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