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Silent spirits throughout the ancient settlement Nora on the coast of Sardinia


One of Nora's intact mosaics on the island of Sardinia, Italy          Photo Credit: Matthew McCall

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Around this time of year, most are searching for the past, perhaps by hunting down those spirits that linger in old historic hotels or exploring Civil War battlefields to find echoes of history.

On the island of Sardinia in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, travelers can hunt a little farther back than a few hundred years like most ghost busters do to experience the lives of those lifetimes apart. The ancient civilization of Nora has weathered the harsh conditions of the sea, remaining an ideal spot in Europe to walk through the ultimate oxymoron of intact ruins.

Located on Sardinia’s southern shores near the town of Pula, Nora sprawls out along the coastline. Many believe Nora to be the first town founded in Sardinia, one of the most ancient lands in all of Europe. The name Sardinia even appeared here first on a Phoenician stone from the 9th century BC.

Phoenician in origin, Nora was eventually taken over by the Carthaginians and then the Romans. Much of the evidence from the Roman period remains with typical  brick constructions featured throughout areas of thermal baths, residences, and an open theater. The intact mosaic artwork brings some of Nora’s greatest awe factors. The colors remain rich, and the intricate designs are still very much apparent to modern day eyes.

As the south of Sardinia has been sinking into the Mediterranean, so too has some of Nora’s ruins. Few places exist where ruins underwater can be seen through glassy waters.The ruins of Nora are the exception, still visible when the tide draws back into the sea.

The voices of Nora’s settlers resound as visitors walk throughout the outdoor museum. Ideas, languages, and goods were all traded on these grounds, making the ancient civilization of Nora an ideal spot for exploring sounds and sights of the so distant past.

For more on Sardinia, read Seeking Simple Beauty on Sardinia’s beaches.

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