We weren't thinking of great archaeological sites when we started this trip, but we've already been surprised by massive Nuraghe ruins in Barumini and learned from our fellow travelers at the Testone Agriturismo about an intriguing temple in a nearby valley. Although somewhat off the beaten path, the "Su Tempiesu" site was highly recommended so we decided to give it a try.
The unpaved road enroute to the water temple, Su Tempiesu, is a bit of a challenge.
The water temple we were seeking dates from between the 17th and 7th centuries B.C. when the ancient Sards worshiped their gods by building shrines at underground springs. They built the sophisticated temples with seating to worship the underground divinity whose magical waters were thought to cure their eye and bone diseases. Our new friends at the agriturismo told us that they had felt a spiritual force when they visited earlier in the week, so we were sold on the adventure. After a somewhat treacherous drive, we arrived at a modern looking museum in the middle of nowhere. The museum director gave us a private talk in Italian about the temple and sent us on our way pointing to a path marked with signs in Italian, Sardo and English. She also recommended water bottles, which she sold us for just 50 cents.
The botanical path leads to the Water Temple.
After about a half hour walk, we arrived at the temple. We passed no one on the path so we had the site to ourselves to explore like Indiana Jones. We both felt the magic of the temple as we bent down to touch the water that has been bubbling inside for thousands of years. We had seen some of the votive offerings at the museum and we could easily imagine worshipers sitting on the benches inside the stone temple.
We were able to explore the temple by ourselves.
Water from the underground spring has been at the temple for thousands of years.
We took the "fauna" path back to the museum and were inspired to plan another archaeological adventure off the beaten path for the following day. We were already planning to drive to the west coast, so we decided to take a detour to see the "Giants" at the Civic Museum of Cabras and the nearby ruins of Tharros, a city founded by the Phoenicians at the end of the 8th century B.C. and later inhabited by the Romans. The Giants or gigantes are colossal statues representing warriors that were discovered at an ancient Sardinian necropolis in the area of Mont'e Prama. The reconstructed statues are the premiere exhibit at the modern museum.
This "giant" welcomes visitors to the Civic Museum of Cabras.
A short drive from the museum are the ruins of Tharros. On the way, we stopped for lunch at the aptly named Ristorante i Giganti.
The I Giganti restaurant capitalizes on the huge warrior statues that were discovered nearby.
The Doric semi-columns are remnants of a "monumental temple" from the Punic age.
Several different Roman baths are at Tharros - a city that was full of pleasures in its heyday.
The beautiful free beach is on the other side of the ruins.