Castello di San Michele - History and Facts | History Hit

Castello di San Michele

Casteddu/Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy

Castello di San Michele is a medieval fortress turned luxury home, hospital and museum.

About Castello di San Michele

Castello di San Michele is an imposing medieval citadel in Cagliari in Sardinia built by the Spanish in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. However, structures have existed on this site from the tenth century.

Later serving as the luxurious home of the Carroz family until 1511, the function of Castello di San Michele changed entirely in the seventeenth century when it became a quarantine section for plague victims.

Now home to temporary exhibits, Castello di San Michele is made up of three main towers joined by a series of thick walls.

History of Castello di San Michele

Excavations in the 1990s revealed the remains of a rural church, likely from the early medieval period. During the Pagan era, worship for the protector of medicine was replaced by the Christian worship for its namesake, San Michele.

The castle is a military complex and originally had three towers with a moat surrounding the building.

The castle was probably built upon the Giudicati or Pisan remains in the 12th century to defend the city of Santa Igia, which was the capital of the Judicate of Cagliari. It was then reinforced in the 13th century with the addition of two eastern towers.

The third tower was Aragonese and dates to 1325. It was built by Emperor Alfonso’s right hand man Berengario Carroz, who transformed it into a luxurious residence and fortress, and adorned it with items likely stolen from the Basilica di San Saturno.

The castle subsequently benefitted subsequent sovereigns. Most notably, it was lived in for a century and a half until 1511 by the noble Carroz family, with the last member to live as the lady of the castle being the feared and cursed Countess Violante.

There is also an extensive network of underground treasures and tunnels.

After the Carroz era, the castle was abandoned for over a century, before being used as a hospital during the ‘Plague of Sant’Efisio’ (1652-56).

It was also used again as a military fortification, defending the city with cannons from Napoleon’s militia in 1793.

In 1867, it was sold to the Marquis Roberti di san Tommaso, who had it restored and began reforesting the hill with pine trees. From 1929 to 1972, it was the Italian Navy’s ratio-telegraphic station, until restoration and enhancement works of the late-20th century transformed the fortress into a modern art and culture centre.

Castello di San Michele Today

Today, the castle has been converted into and is used as a Centre of Art and Culture, with regular exhibitions with items such as sculptures featuring periodically.

From the top of the castle, a 360-degree view of the capital can be enjoyed, with views of the Pisan towers of the Castello district, the port, the Poetto, the Sella del Diavolo and the Santa Gilla lagoon.

Getting to Castello di San Michele

From the centre of the city of Cagliari, Castello di San Michele is a 45-50 minute walk via Via Cornalias, which is by far the best way to make the most of the views that the castle and surrounding area has to offer. By car, it takes around 10 minutes via Via Ernesto Maria Piovella.