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Ancient City of Nora

The first Phoenician city in Sardinia, located in Pula, Southern Sardinia

Nora was the first Phoenician city in Sardinia (8th century BC), an important commercial crosswords and port of enviable location, in the isthmus of Capo Pula, from which it was possible to set sail in any weather. Nora, which developed fully in the 4th century BC under Punic rule, was conquered by the Romans in 238 BC and became a municipium in the 1st century AC.

Visit the ruins of Nora from Cagliari with this shared excursion

During the two following centuries, it lived its maximum splendour: urban growth and eight thousand inhabitants, in addition to being caput viae, the starting point of all of the roads on the islands of this flourishing city, fascinating remains can be seen at the archaeological park of Pula, a handful of minutes from the tourist centre, and findings exhibited at Patroni Museum.

Nora is located on a promontory, the Cape of Pula, separated from the mainland by an isthmus that extends in two points: at O Sa Punta 'e Su Coloru (the tip of the snake), at E la Punta del Coltellazzo, in front of the homonymous islet. The area is dominated by the Spanish tower of Coltellazzo, in a position of great landscape value.

The Roman conquest of Sardinia in 238 B.C. triggered the process of Romanization of the island. This process, which did not take place automatically but was marked by a complex articulation in phases, was strongly influenced at the beginning by the deep-rooted Phoenician-Punic culture.

This situation can also be seen in the urban layout of the island's urban centres, which remained for a long time marked by the pre-existing Punic scheme. To inform us explicitly about the statute acquired by the city of Nora is the inscription of a statue base dedicated to Quintus Minucius Pius, which gives this character the title of "quattorvir iure dicundo": this shows that Nora had reached the rank of "municipium" certainly in the first half of the first century AD. (this is the date of the base), but probably already in the Augustan age. The base was found in the area of the forum, where it had been reused as an element of the road pavement.

The retrieval of archaeological information relating to the first phase of the history of Roman Nora is made rather complex by the intense urban frequentation that interested the city, especially in the imperial age, inevitably changing the original layout.

Tickets to Nora cost 8€ per adult, 4,50 € for teens up to 18 years old

The structures visible today are mainly relevant to this phase. It was in fact from the first century AD that Nora experienced a remarkable urban development and a growth of human presence in its territory, as evidenced by the villas, necropolis and villages highlighted by archaeological research.

Between the II and III century A.D. the city reached a remarkable degree of urban development and commercial traffic, while it began its decline in the second half of the V century A.D., as documented by the buildings of this period where there is the reuse of building material obtained from disused structures.

The excavations in progress are however progressively giving back precious information both on the late phases, on the Republican Nora, and finally on the previous Punic and Phoenician phases.

Today the city appears to be roughly in the middle of the triangle defined by the promontory of the Capo di Pula in S the Punta del Coltellazzo in E and in N by the isthmus that connects the peninsula to the hinterland (at the point of minimum width it measures 80 m). On the upper side of the triangle, oriented according to the O/E axis, there are several residential areas, the "small baths", the "macellum/horreum", the so-called "temple of Tanit" and, at the end of the side, the theather. Continuing beyond the forum, towards the Coltellazzo hill, one arrives in an area that the excavations in progress have now with a sufficient degree of certainty allowed to define as sacred.

Turning now towards the side that connects the Punta del Coltellazzo with the Capo di Pula there are other important structures: the "central baths", other residential areas and, closing on the side, the temple of Eshmun-Esculapio. On the remaining side that connects the Cape of Pula with the N area, currently under military control, there is a relevant residential area, the "terme a mare" and, in closing, the Christian basilica.

On the basis of archaeological evidence, the most plausible location of the port seems to be that of the natural gulf transformed into a fishpond in 1957. (

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