And suddenly there is Cagliari: a naked town rising steep, steep, golden-looking, piled naked to the sky from the plain at the head of the formless hollow bay. It is strange and rather wonderful, not a bit like Italy. The city piles up lofty and almost miniature, and makes me think of Jerusalem: without trees, without cover, rising rather bare and proud, remote as if back in history, like a town in a monkish, illuminated missal. One wonders how it ever got there. And it seems like Spain—or Malta: not Italy.
(David Herbert Lawrence, Sea and Sardinia, 1921)
A short history of Cagliari
Founded in the Neolithic age (6000-3000 B.C.), only many centuries later, Cagliari became an authentic city, thanks to the Phoenician-Punics dominators, which took advantage from its central position in the Mediterranean sea, they turned Cagliari into a bustling commercial port. After the first Punic war (III century B.C.) Cagliari passed under the heel of Rome, and it still preserves important findings and ruins of the domination, such as the Roman Amphitheatre and Tigellio's villa. With the advent of Christianity, Cagliari came in contact with religious personages like S.Agostino, but under Vandal people a period of decline started and lasted until the Byzantine Empire, characterized by the birth of Giudicati (IX-X centuries A.D.), a form of self-government, lead by the King also supreme Magistrate (Judex sive Rex) independent from the Empires and the Church's dominions, that granted the island a relative political independence and autonomy. In the XIII century, in conjunction with the decline of the Cagliari's "Giudicato", came the Pisans, that fortified the upper part of the town, with a complex system of ramparts, buttresses, forts and towers still visible in Castello, Stampace, Marina and Villanova districts. Less than a century later, in 1324 the rule passed to the Aragonese, that along with the Catalans, with the political union gave birth to the Spanish Government, an administration that caused much resentment among the people. A major change occurred in 1717, with the treaty of Utrecht, after the Spanish war of Succession. After a weak and short austrian rule attempt, Cagliari and Sardinia, was the Savoia house-hold to arise to the sardinian throne. With the Piedmontese administration, Cagliari started an era of urban development and renewal, that gradually modified the status of the city from "fortified stronghold" to a modern planning layout, which involved many useful public works. After WWII, Cagliari faced a new life: around the primogenial urban settlement a new city started to develop, that in a 20 years time-span, from 1951 to 1971, doubled the number of dwellings, attracting the population from the nearby areas, as well as laying the foundations of the contemporary metropolitan area. Today Cagliari appears like a complex city, with a heritage of great importance as well as a modern personality, coherently to a capital that developed, with time going by, in harmony with the surrounding area, being a pivotal part of it.