Little Holes in the Hills: the Punic Necropolis of Tuvixeddu

Necropolis of Tuvixeddu, Necropoli di Tuvixeddu, Cagliari, Sardinia

Cagliari is a town full of unusual details: one of the most unusual is probably the Punic necropolis of Tuvixeddu that basically serves as a dog-walkers’ park.  Other creatures you may see are toads, mosquitoes and die-hard history buffs.

The entrance of the Necropolis of Tuvixeddu, Cagliari, Sardinia

In Sardinian, the word Tuvixeddu means the hill of the little holes, which is a pretty apt description of what you still see.  These holes are entrances to burial chambers, into which the Carthaginians invested considerable effort by digging down into the limestone to create homes for the dead during the 6th to 3rd centuries BC.  Some of these chambers are, supposedly, still well-preserved and have impressive frescoes.  We wouldn’t know, because we weren’t allowed to see any of that.

We thought we might get to see something at the Tomb of Sid – a tomb that was not only named, therefore presumably genuinely important, but also covered in a plastic construction that implied there was something exceptional being protected.  Eagerly we made our way there and found nothing but the same baffling archaeology as elsewhere.

I’ll be honest – I was disappointed with this place.  Here we are, in the middle of a site dedicated to burial chambers, and we aren’t allowed into a single one.  They are clearly quite deep, but I’m sure some heath-and-safety whiz could come up with a scheme which would allow you to enter the subterranean world with satisfactory levels of life-preservation.  To only be able to peer down into the darkness was underwhelming.

View of the Necropolis of Tuvixeddu, Cagliari, Sardinia

View of the Necropolis of Tuvixeddu, Cagliari, Sardinia

Some of the openings for the tombs in the Necropolis of Tuvixeddu, Cagliari, Sardinia

Looking right down into the opening of a tomb, Necropolis of Tuvixeddu, Cagliari, Sardinia

Looking right down into the opening of a tomb, Necropolis of Tuvixeddu, Cagliari, Sardinia

Looking down into an opening, Necropolis of Tuvixeddu, Cagliari, Sardinia

Admiring the landscape of the Necropolis of Tuvixeddu, Cagliari, Sardinia

The remains of a building at the Necropolis of Tuvixeddu, Cagliari, Sardinia

Holes in the ground (leading to tombs), Necropolis of Tuvixeddu, Cagliari, Sardinia

The lush greenery of the Necropolis of Tuvixeddu, Cagliari, Sardinia

The lush greenery of the Necropolis of Tuvixeddu, Cagliari, Sardinia

Some more tomb openings, Necropolis of Tuvixeddu, Cagliari, Sardinia

A walkway through another patch of mosquito paradise, Necropolis of Tuvixeddu, Cagliari, Sardinia

Openings into tombs at the Necropolis of Tuvixeddu, Cagliari, Sardinia

This was a mosquito paradise, Necropolis of Tuvixeddu, Cagliari, Sardinia

Some marks in the stone at the Necropolis of Tuvixeddu, Cagliari, Sardinia

Don’t bother trying to walk up that hill, Necropolis of Tuvixeddu, Cagliari, Sardinia

View down on the Necropolis of Tuvixeddu, Cagliari, Sardinia

There is also a Roman necropolis on the slopes of the hill, but again, this wasn’t all too clearly done, so I have no idea if we actually went through/past that area or not.  By this point we were a sitting on a bench pondering what to do and we saw an intrepid tourist couple march past us to explore an area we were on our way up to.  They came marching back in a few minutes, and we decided to call it a day.

So In Summary

If you are a particular fan of Punic culture, then I’m sure you’ll get something out of visiting Tuvixeddu.  If you aren’t that interested, and if you aren’t that impressed by the idea of being bitten to death by mosquitoes, then I’d say you could give it a miss.  I feel really bad being so down on it, but I was really looking forward to the visit so maybe that made me more unhappy – as someone with very little knowledge of Punic culture, I had hoped to gain some insight into their burial practises, if nothing else.  Anyway, the site opened to the public only in 2014, so hopefully they’ll eventually make the experience more rewarding to visitors by letting them actually engage a little with the space.

Further Information

The site is free to visit – hence the dog-walkers – and it’s snugly located in a residential area of Cagliari.  Around the site there are a few information boards but they’re not very evocative or helpful.  Personally, I would really rather pay some money to enter and actually see more than a series of enigmatic holes in the ground.

How to Get There

Though you could walk to the site from the city’s train station, you’re probably better off getting a bus.  It’s a walk uphill from there.

The signage was non-existent and I had to keep checking Google maps to make sure that we weren’t just going to see the suburbs.

The transport website for Cagliari is not very user-friendly for the non-Italian speaker.  So, here’s the city’s official transport website: www.ctmcagliari.it – which has some English information on Cagliari buses generally.  Here is a pdf of the bus map.  Now you’ve worked out where you want to go, pop over here for a list of the bus numbers so you can see the schedule of your bus.

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