Nora Archaeological Site - History and Facts | History Hit

Nora Archaeological Site

Pula, Sardinia, Italy

The Nora Archaeological Site in Sardinia houses ancient Phoenician and Roman ruins.

Peta Stamper

06 May 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Nora Archaeological Site

The Nora Archaeological Site in Sardinia contains mostly Ancient Roman ruins, but was founded in at least the 8th century BC by the Phoenicians. Some Phoenician ruins can be seen, including a temple and some fortifications.

Prior to Phoenician settlement, Nora may have even previously been a nuraghi site (the people of Sardinia credited with building hundreds of defensive structures). Nora became a Roman settlement in the third century BC, and amongst the finds at the site are a Roman theatre, a series of mosaics, baths complexes and numerous other structures.

Nora Archaeological Site history

Nora was established by the Phoenicians during the 8th century BC. The city was the first Phoenician city in Sardinia, and functioned as an important commercial crossroads and port or the Capo Pula, from which they could sail in any weather. Fully established by the 4th century, Nora was conquered by the Romans in 238 BC during the Punic Wars and was made a municipium in the 1st century.

Under imperial Rome, Nora experienced massive urban growth and was home to around 8,000 people. From the city, all roads stemmed. The Romans established themselves literally over the remains of the Punic settlement, building an impressive thermal bathing complex served by an aqueduct and an amphitheatre.

Originally lined with marble with 20 terraces that could hold 1,000 people, like any prosperous Roman city Nova boasted an impressive amphitheatre for entertainment. From the 5th century, the city went into decline and was eventually lost to the Arab invaders after they took Carthage in 698 AD, becoming a simpler port. Nora appeared to have been abandoned by the 8th century AD.

Excavations began in 1889 after a storm revealed the Phoenician-Punic cemetery or tophet. Among the remains, archaeologists found the Temple of Tanit celebrating a Carthaginian goddess, and the Nora Stone (now held in the National Archaeological Museum in Cagliari) which is believed to mark the Phoenician conquest of the area.

Nora Archaeological Site today

Today, only a few minutes from an informative visitor’s centre, you can explore the remains of this flourishing ancient city. Walk the ancient cobbled streets to enter the Piazza del Foro where you will see a 6-columned entrance hall belonging to a temple. On the coast is a nobleman’s house built in the 3rd century AD, full of mosaic-lined rooms (one of such being ‘Nereid on a marine centaur’).

The well-preserved theatre is now used for concerts and the La Notte dei Poeti festival. After time travelling, make use of the rich coastline’s golden sand or great snorkelling opportunities, admiring the Roman roads and remains overlooked by a 16th century tower and rare birds flying overhead.

Getting to Nora Archaeological Site

The easiest way of reaching Nora Archaeological Site is via car. Head south on the SS195 towards Pula from Cagliari, and it will take you 40 minutes to get to Nora. Alternately, you can get buses to nearby Pula and walk the 30 or so minutes to the Nora site.

Featured In

Ruins of Ancient Carthage

Explore the history of the ancient Carthaginian Empire at these important ruins and relics across the Mediterranean.