Iglesias millenary traditions and dream beaches
Iglesias is a continuous and surprising discovery: millenary traditions, uncontaminated territory, dream beaches and ancient mines, now museums.
This historic town is in the south-western corner of Sardinia, 200 m above sea level about 8 km from the coast.
Iglesias, populated by 25 thousand inhabitants, as well as a bishopric, heir to the ancient diocese of Sulcis, is the main centre of Iglesiente, the protagonist territory of the Sardinian mining epic.
During the centuries of Spanish domination, Iglesias (in Spanish ‘churches’) was one of the royal towns of Sardinia. It is a place with a glorious past which is witnessed by its numerous churches and religious traditions, among which the celebration of the rites of Holy Week, in forms and colors of Spanish tradition, stands out.
The Santa Barbara mining trail starts in Iglesias: 400 kilometres in 24 stages, to be covered on foot or by mountain bike, to discover the history and devotion of Sulcis. Another tradition to live is the medieval historical procession in mid-August: musicians, flag-wavers and figures in medieval clothes from the historic districts parade.
Among the churches to be visited you find here the cathedral of Santa Chiara (13th century), the Madonna delle Grazie, the church of the Collegio, the Jesuit ‘temple’, and San Francesco, one of the most intact and significant Gothic-Catalan architectures in Sardinia (it also houses a retable from 1560). The ruins of San Salvatore, one of the few Byzantine cruciform buildings (IX-XI century) are Also worth mentioning.
The mines have been the wealth of the Iglesiente for over a century, up to the mid-twentieth century. Today they are a heritage of industrial archeology in the Geo-mining park of Sardinia, recognized by Unesco. The Museum of Mining Art, housed in the ‘Asproni’ institute, a Liberty-style building from the early twentieth century, and the Museum of Machines retrace the evolution of mining with a collection of minerals, models, reconstructions of environments and exhibitions of original machines.
If you want to explore the mining activity “from inside” you cannot miss the guided tours: from the fascinating site of Monteponi, one of the most important mining plants in Italy, to Nebida, among wells, tunnels, piers and houses of the miners (inhabited in 1910 by three thousand people, today a ghost village), to the Lamarmora mining laundry (1897) in Masua, and to Porto Flavia, a futuristic and revolutionary work that allowed the direct loading of minerals, a port suspended in the middle of a rocky wall, from which starts a tunnel of 600 metres.
Next to it, the wonders of the Iglesiente coast stand out: the long beach of Porto Paglia, the stacks of Masua and Pan di Zucchero, a 132 metres natural monument forged by time, the beach of Porto Flavia and the Grand Canal of Nebida, a valley where 100 metres walls sink dramatically, guarding a stretch of blue and emerald green sea. The steep coast with enchanting coves is ideal for photo shoots. Iglesias is about 54 km from Cagliari and Elmas airport.