Porto Torres is located along the Gulf of Asinara at the mouth of the Mannu River, just northwest of the city of Sassari, for which it is the port.
Marina de Porto Torres is the heart of the civic port, overlooking the Gulf of Asinara. All the main supermarkets and shops in the city, like the best restaurants, are located in this area.
Porto Torres is a very interesting city capable of capturing the attention of its visitors, who can easily reach here by ferry from Italy, France and Spain, from the port of Barcelona.
The past of Porto Torres
Porto Torres has a history more than a little moved. The first human settlements in Porto Torres and the neighboring area date back to prehistoric times , as evidenced by the many necropolises in the area. In particular, the domus date back to the nuraghic age and among these, the Domus de Andreolu must be mentioned due to its special importance. Later, the area was with good possibilities used as a safe haven by the Phoenicians and then the Carthaginians , but the archaeological findings of these civilizations are scarce.
It is necessary to get to the Roman era to be able to really talk about the founding of Porte Torres, when around 46 BC the Romans instituted here the Iulia colony of Turris Libisonis . Several monuments dedicated to the cult of the goddess Isis, like an altar dedicated to rituals and offerings, prove the proliferation of the maritime and mercantile activities of the colony. Turris Libisonis soon became one of the most important ports on the island , with direct links to Ostia, the port of Rome. As proof of the importance of the city, and its connection with the capital, are the majestic baths , the domus of the mosaics and the old walls.
With the decline of the Western Roman Empire, all of Sardinia was conquered and dominated by the Vandals for almost a century. Defeated the vandals, the island and the city were occupied by the Byzantines.
After the loss of contact with Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire, Porto Torres became a sovereign and independent state , known as the Giudicato di Torres-Logudoro . Given the important and strategic location of the capital of this small state, connected by sea to Genoa and easily accessible from Pisa, Torres remained the second most important center of the island , both politically and religiously as by demographic dimensions. Around 1065 the Basilica of San Gavino was built, which was a cathedral until 1441 and rises in a cave dedicated to the saint.
At this point, however, Torres began to fall into oblivion from which he could never emerge: from the capital of the kingdom and archbishopric became almost uninhabited and under Aragonese rule (1323-1479), the city entered its phase final: it was no longer a true urban core and the glories of the past only a Spartan port remained.
The current municipality of Porto Torres was born in 1842, in the Savoy period , when citizens obtained by King Charles Felix of Sardinia the autonomy of Sassari, which in previous centuries had assumed a dominant position.
Porto Torres today: what to visit
Today, the ancient Turris Libisonis still retains much of its ancient Roman structures : aqueducts, sewers, hot springs, the forum and some temples are in good condition, as well as the bridge of the Mannu River , still usable. The Roman antiquities are undoubtedly the main attraction of the city, considered a pole of vital importance for the commerce and industry of Sardinia.
Do not try to resist the temptation to embark on a ferry to Asinara Island , without a doubt the main excursion in this area. In recent years, Asinara has been a natural park, but in reality it has always been a prison. Activities such as deep-sea fishing are prohibited in the entire area, and this is nowadays one of the richest natural parks in the world . Here more than anywhere else, divers can enjoy the fascination of the underwater world .
Moreover, here live quiet and undisturbed horses, wild boars and the characteristic white donkeys of Asinara , which gave the island its name.
The remains of the thermal complex called the Palace of King Barbaro , the most important thermal bath building, are a very valuable testimony of the Roman past: the immersion tanks and the furnaces used in the underground heating system are still very visible . Very beautiful, especially the mosaics .
Other places of great historical value, such as the central baths, the Domus de Orfeo , the Maetzke baths , the Domus of the mosaics, the spas and the Pallottino peristyle , are included in the vast archaeological site of the Turritano Antiquarium , that is to say the National Archaeological Museum of Porto Torres , inaugurated in 1984.
This shows the great importance in the Roman era of the city, which certainly covered a preponderant role both from an economic point of view, due to the presence of the port, both in the political sphere.
Among the works built by the Romans, it is also worth mentioning the bridge over the Mannu River , with its seven stolen point arches, which formed part of the road network and which was the longest bridge in all of Sardinia (135 meters).
Columns and Roman pillars have also been used in the Basilica of San Gavino , which is literally a stone’s throw from the sea, near the beautiful and small beach of Balai .
The basilica, the largest and oldest Romanesque monument on the island , has three naves and is built of limestone blocks that have acquired wonderful shades over time. The original building dates from the second half of the eleventh century, but later expanded at least a couple of times. Here you can admire numerous sarcophagi , such as the notables of the nine muses and, in the crypt, those containing the relics of Saints Gavino , Proto and Gianuario .
Only 6 km from Porto Torres in the direction of Sassari is the megalithic ziggurat of Monte d’Accoddi . This impressive structure has a base of 27 meters by 27 meters, a height of 5.5 m and culminates in a platform of approximately 12.5 m by 7.2 m, accessible through a ramp. It has been described as a mound, a temple or a step pyramid, but since no rooms or access points have ever been found to the mound, it is believed that the ziggurat has been used as a sacrificial altar or that it has served as an observation function, as its square plan coordinates with the cardinal points of the compass. At the base of the structure there are two menhirs , a dolmen and a huge egg-shaped stone.
The most beautiful beaches of Porto Torres
Needless to say, the beaches of Porto Torres are each more beautiful than the other: a succession of rocks, cliffs and coves of golden sand overlooking the green and blue of an iridescent sea.
Almost all the beaches are located on the east side of Porto Torres, starting from the tourist port towards Piatamone.
Scoglio Beach Lungo owes its name to a natural “walkway”, in fact a long rock, which extends into the sea surrounding the beach on your right. The water is not very deep and therefore it is also suitable for families with children. The beach is easily recognizable by the statue of a dolphin that sits on a small rock a few meters from the shore.
The beach of Balai , previously mentioned for the sanctuary dedicated to San Gavino, is small but very appreciated for its very fine sand. The Playa de las Dulces Dulces , artificially built only a few years ago, owes its name to the springs of fresh water at the bottom of this stretch of sea.
On the western side , almost at the tip of the peninsula of Stintino, is the Pelosa Beach , from where you can enjoy a fantastic view of the Piana Island , the islet that separates Cabo Falcone from Asinara. Located on an even smaller island – between Piana Island and Cabo Falcone, at the entrance of the Asinara Strait – is the old walled coastal tower that takes its name from the beach: Torre de la Pelosa . Also on the Asinara Island there are beautiful beaches, such as Cala d’Arena .
Porto Torres and its surroundings, as well as all of Sardinia, is a true gift from Mother Nature . Everything here is of a beauty that can not be described with words: the sky, the sea, the beaches, the pine forests and the Mediterranean maquis that intensely perfume the air. And they are no less the welcome and kindness of the Sardinians.