- Population: about 165,000 inhabitants
- Zip/postal codes: 09100
- Dialing Area Code: +39 070
- Car Plate: CA
- Patron Saint: San Saturnino, celebrated on 30 October, Sant'Efisio
History - Antiquity
History - the Middle Ages
The "giudicato" of Karalis comprised a large area of the Campidano plain, the mineral resources of the Sulcis region and the mountain region of Ogliastra. In the 11th century, the Pisan republic, one of the four Italian "maritime republics" of the Middle Ages, conquered the kingdom of Karalis and re-built the town of Cagliari. Pisa had a keen interest in Sardinia because it was a perfect strategic base for controlling the commercial routes between Italy and North Africa.
Some of the fortifications that still surround the current district of Castello were built by the Pisans. Together with the district of Castello, Cagliari comprised the districts of Marina (which included the port), Stampace and Villanova. Marina and Stampace were guarded by walls, while Villanova, which mainly hosted peasants, was not.
In the 14th century the kingdom of Aragon conquered Cagliari after a battle against the Pisans and advanced its plan to conquer all of Sardinia. When Sardinia was finally conquered by Aragon, Cagliari became the administrative capital of the vice-kingdom of Sardinia, which later came under the rule of the Spanish empire; the Spanish domination was a period of decadence for Cagliari and Sardinia.
History - Modern Times
From the 1870s, with the unification of Italy, the city experienced a century of rapid growth. Many outstanding buildings were erected by the end of the 19th century during the office of Mayor Ottone Bacaredda. Ottone Bacaredda is also famous for the violent repression of one of the earlier worker strikes in the beginning of the 20th century.
History - the 20th Century
After the war, the population of Cagliari boosted and many apartment blocks were erected in new residential districts, often created with poor planning as for recreational areas.
What to see
- The old part of the city (called 'Castello', the castle) lies on top of a hill, with a wonderful view of the Gulf of Cagliari (aka Angels Gulf). Most of its city walls are intact, and feature the two 13th century white lime-stone towers, two white lime-stone towers built by the Pisans, designed by architect Giovanni Capula (originally there were three towers that guarded the three gates that gave access to the district), called St. Pancras tower and the Elephant tower. The local white lime-stone was also used to build the walls of the city and many buildings. D.H. Lawrence, in his memories of a trip in Sardinia, "Sea and Sardinia", described the impressive effect of the warm Mediterranean sun-light on the white lime-stone city and compared Cagliari to a "white Jerusalem".
- The Cathedral, which was repaired in the 1930s turning the former Baroque facade into a Medieval Pisan style facade. Near the Cathedral is the palace of the Provincial Government (which used to be the island's governor's palace before 1900).
- The white marble City Hall near the port, which combines influences from Art Nouveau together with the traditional Sardinian taste for flower decoration.
- The Sardinian Archaeological Museum, the biggest and most important regarding the prehistoric Nuragic civilisation of Sardinia.
- The large town park, Monte Urpinu, with its pine trees and artificial lakes, including a vast area of a hill. Visitors can reach the top of the hill by car and enjoy a nice view of Castello district, the gulf, the swamps and the beach.
- The Roman Amphitheatre, a unique monument in the world being the only Roman amphitheatre carved into a block of rock (the typical lime-stone on which Cagliari is built). The Amphitheatre still stages open-air operas and concerts during the summer.
- A church in Cagliari gives its name to Buenos Aires. The Spaniards that founded Buenos Aires visited the church of Bonaria (fair winds, buenos aires in Catalan) and asked for help from Mary of Bonaria, to whom the church is dedicated. The church faces the sea and was built where a sailor landed after Mary appeared during a tempest and saved the sailor and his ship from sinking.