The capital city of the Italian island of Sardinia, Caliari is a city with a long and rich history. The name of the city is actually “The Castle” in the native Sardinian language, and this shows how important the central fortress became to the people.

The region around the city was likely settled by a nomadic tribe around 5000 BC, and later a permanent settlement was established by the Phoenicians as a trading colony in the 7th century BC. In the 3rd century BC the island of Sardinia was conquered by the Carthaginians, and following their defeat by the Romans, it became part of the Roman Republic and then Roman Empire.

For 400 years the island, including Caliari, experienced a period of peace until the fall of the Roman Empire. First the Vandals, and then the Byzantine Empire gained control, and then in the 6th century AD the island became an independent kingdom. This marked a downturn for the city of Caliari, as it was all but deserted due to constant attacks by pirates.

The city was rebuilt during the Pisan Republic in the 11th century and the town was heavily fortified to fend off attacks by sea. Some of these medieval fortifications can still be seen today. The Kingdom of Aragon conquered the island during the 14th century and it transferred to Spanish control for the next 400 years, until it came under the rule of the Habsburg dynasty of Austria. Finally, in 1720 the island and the city of Cagliari came under the rule of the House of Savoy.

While the Duke of Savoy maintained a capital in the city of Turin on mainland Italy, the dynasty took the title of Kings of the Sardinian Kingdom. The French tried to gain control of the island under Napoleon’s rule, but the citizens of Cagliari fended off the invasion. The House of Savoy offered any concession or reward for this loyalty, and as a result the city rose up against their rules. While there was a brief period of independence from the Sardinian Kingdom, the city was retaken soon after. However, even today “Die de sa Sadigna” or Sardinian Day is celebrated on the last weekend in April.

With the unification of Italy in 1861 the city of Cagliari became part of the Kingdom of Italy, and the result as an expansion and rennovation of the old city. Some of this was damaged during World War II when the city was bombed by the Allies in 1943. Following the downfall of the dictator Benito Mussolini, the Germans briefly occupied Cagliari before retreating to mainland Italy. The city was liberated by the Allies at the end of the same year.
While there are scars of the past, the city remains a vibrant reminder of the role that Sardinia and the region played in the history of Italy and Europe.