The archaeological site of Santa Cristina is the principal sacred area of Nuragic Civilizations, and it is a monumental temple with the typical structure of an excavated shaft, and it includes in it a Christian sanctuary that is still used today during religious festival. This fact contributes to create a unique atmosphere of sanctity and syncretism.
The history of area
The sacred area has very ancient origins, datable in XI century B.C., in late Bronze Age, and following the nuragic periodization, in the age called third Nuragic, characterized by the development of the previous architectural structures as the gigantic tombs that get richer thanks to the fist elements of influence from the Hellenic world, in particular from the Mycenaean Civilizations.
The sacred shaft is a typical form in the religious architecture of the Nuragic Civilizations, but it was not used any more in antiquity. The main particularity of this area is the following religious syncretism that developed in XVIII century in this area.
It is interesting to notice that the name with which is called the Nuragic sacred area, is the name of a Christian saint. This is because in this place was built a country church dedicated to Saint Cristina, and also a complex of 36 houses called muristenes: this is the Sardinian name of the places where the pilgrims were accommodated during the time of religious festivals, and this is a particularity of the sanctuaries in this region. There was the institution of a novenario, a period of 9 days in which the pilgrims were gathering before the festival dedicated to Saint Cristina, on the second Sunday in May, and the one dedicated to archangel Gabriel, the fourth Sunday of October.
The sacred area of Santa Cristina
The archaeological area has two different parts. The first and most relevant is the temple excavated as a shaft that is surrounded by a sacred fence that has an elliptical shape.
The construction is monumental and it includes a vestibule in the first part, and then a staircase of 25 steps that became narrower as you get down and it leads to the subterranean room. The descent is a particular experience because of the optical effect created by the disposition of the stones of decoration in the partial coverage of the staircase which creates the effect of a reversed staircase.
The chamber inside the shaft has a circular plant and it is covered by a pseudo cupola with a tholos shape, and there is a pool, excavated in the rock where the level of water is constant. This construction was dedicated to the worship of water, and this is why there is this pool inside.
Imagine Copyright: By Cristiano Cani - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
From Monday to Sunday: from 8.30 to one hour before sunset
Full ticket: 5,00€ - Reduced ticket: 2,50€ (children between 6 to 13 years old)
Free entrance: kids under 5 years old
Groups of more than 20 people: 3,50€ each.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE CARD:
AGE: XI century B.C.
CIVILISATION: Nuragic Civilization
ADMINISTRATION: Soprintendenza archeologica per le province di Cagliari e Oristano
DISCOVERY: XX century
Hot to get to Santa Cristina
By car: from Cagliari E235/SS131 until Paulilatino and take the exit S. Cristina.