Cagliari is divided into 31 districts, but 4 are those commonly referred to as Historic districts (of medieval origin).Places that preserve in their walls and in their streets the history of the city: Castello, Marina, Stampace, and Villanova.
The historic center acquired its appearance, which is still largely preserved today, in the second half of the thirteenth century when, to the east and west of Castello and Marina, the two appendices of Villanova and Stampace were added.
Castello is the largest of the four historic districts of the city. It is located in a prominent position, on a limestone hill, about a hundred meters above sea level. Castello is home to the palaces of power and the old noble residences, so much so as to identify itself with the city that, not coincidentally is called “Casteddu” in Sardinian. The district can be accessed through the ancient medieval gates opened up in the walls that still surround much of the perimeter of Castello, isolating it from the rest of the city.
Villanova was founded in the thirteenth century at the foot of the east slope of the hill on which Castello stands. Today, this district comprises the old portion, situated between Via Garibaldi and the embankment of Viale Regina Elena, characterized by simple homes, various churches, and many shops, and the newer portion, traversed by the central and busy Via Sonnino. Villanova is home to two important archconfraternities, which particularly engage in the rites of the Holy Week in Cagliari.
Marina is the district that overlooks the port of Cagliari and is bordered on the north by the walls of the Castle.
Marina was founded by the Republic of Pisa in the thirteenth century as the area used to house warehouses and the homes of those who were working in the nearby port of Cagliari. Marina is a district full of history, with many shops, and where most of Cagliari’s nightlife takes place.
Stampace, located in the historical city center, west of the Castle of Cagliari, was also founded by the Republic of Pisa in the thirteenth century, which built a modest system of fortification for the district and of which the Tower of the Sperone remains.
Historically, Stampace was a neighborhood primarily inhabited by merchants, artisans, and petty bourgeois, until it gradually lost this characterization with the approach of the contemporary age.
Of great historic and artistic importance are the numerous archaeological sites located in the area of Stampace and Sant’Avendrace, evidence of the Cagliari of the Carthaginians and Romans, along with a few traces of the Judicial capital of Santa Igia, in the area bordering the pond of Santa Gilla.