Nuragic Sanctuary of Santa Vittoria

On a basaltic plateau, on the border between the territories of Sarcidano and Trexenta, in the central-southern part of Sardinia, there is one of the most important and long-lived archaeological areas of the island, from federal nuragic sanctuary to Byzantine church.

Protected by a cliff to the south and a rocky wall to the north, the sanctuary of Santa Vittoria extends for three hectares, among various vestiges of the past, in the Giara di Serri. It is a suggestive place where you will observe the evolution of the nuragic civilization in the Bronze Age and up to the beginning of the Iron Age, from the corridor nuraghe (1500 B.C.), passing through the ‘classical’ one (XIV-XII century B.C.), up to when the area became (XI-IX century B.C.) symbol of religiosity and cultural and commercial crossroads of all the Sardinian people and not only: Etruscan, Phoenician, Cypriot objects, found in the excavations, attest exchanges with distant peoples.
Four groups of buildings can be identified.
The first one is the sacred area, constituted by the well temple dedicated to the cult of the waters: it is the main building realized with basaltic blocks accurately worked. A paved atrium, with bench-seat and altar, and a staircase lead to the well. Nearby is the ‘hypetral’ temple with two altars, which was accessed by a ‘sacred way’. From here a passage will take you to the ‘hut of the priest’, while, to the north you will find the ‘hut of the chief’ with atrium, seats and room. Another architectural nucleus is the ‘enclosure of the feasts’, a socio-commercial area, for feasts, business and stay of the ‘outsiders’, where you will recognize arcades, rooms with benches and seats, collective kitchen, ‘enclosure of the founders’ and the ‘market’, that is nine rooms with seats and slabs for the goods.
A third group of buildings is made up of huts, including the one ‘of the double betyle’ – from the sacred artifact found inside – and the houses ‘of the hearth’ and ‘of the guardian’.
Finally, you will find a fourth complex, where stand out the ‘enclosure of torture’ and the ‘curia’ with about 50 seats: here, perhaps, met in federal assembly the heads of the various nuragic peoples of central Sardinia. Excavations have brought to light artefacts that are the result of Nuragic craftsmanship: models of nuraghi-altars, taurine protomes, fragments of weapons, bracelets, rings, axes, ceramic objects and, above all, small bronzes (ex-votos) with human and animal forms and means of transport. The ‘federal’ sanctuary was also in use in the Punic-Roman period. The sacredness continued in the Byzantine period: there arose the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, then rebuilt in the XI-XII century: it is the Christian sanctuary that gave its name to the archaeological area.