A pre-Nuragic settlement in Nurra at the extreme north-western edge of Sardinia is home to remarkable remains of an impenetrable fortress. Huge boulders create an impenetrable 100 metre long and 3 metre high wall. It’s the great wall of the fortress built by pre-Nuragic settlers to defend their wide fertile valley, and it is one of the most remarkable and massive settlements from the 3rd millennium BC in all of the Mediterranean basin.
It sits on the slopes of Mount Baranta just 3 kilometres from Olmedo, an important industrial/agricultural town in the heart of the Nurra region. Also known as su Casteddu, the fortress dates to the Copper Age (2500-2000 BC) and was constructed with massive megalithic structures following the natural contours of the terrain. Protected by walls, the fortress is comprised of a wall-tower and a group of rectangular huts. Everything here is imposing, built with large rocks and boulders: even the horse-shoe shaped tower is huge, six and a half meters thick and nine metres high. It sits perched on an outcrop of trachyte over the valley below. At the far end of the wall is a sacred area with a megalithic circle where worship and sacrifices were carried out. It is made up of 80 standing straight up in a 10 metre wide circle. Between the rocks are characteristic menhir, one split into two pieces, another whole lying on a rocky raise, perfectly polished. East of the wall you will also find the remains of a small village. Seven large, rectangular, multi-room dwellings have so far been identified.
The Monte Baranta megalithic complex was a busy place, bustling with the military, religious and civic activities of the pre-Nuragic people who lived there. You can feel a touch of insecurity in the air, a fear of attack from the outside that urged the settlers of the Monte Claro culture to seek protection inside an impenetrable construction.
Just after its construction, Su Casteddu was lived in for a relatively short period of time, as shown by the paucity of period relics found during digs and the fact that the area of worship remains unfinished. The site was repopulated during the Early Bronze Age and then, more sporadically, during Nuragic and Roman times. Proof of the vitality and density of the population can also be seen in the surrounding area, in the Olmedo region that counts some twenty nuraghe, including those of Mount Ortolu (a corridor construction), Masala (tholos) and sa Femina, remarkable for the fact that is was built in town.References:
The castle of La Iruela, small but astonishing, is located on the top of a steep crag in Sierra de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park. From the castle, impressive views of the surrounding area and of the town can be enjoyed.
The keep dates from the Christian era. It has a square base and small dimensions and is located at the highest part of the crag.
There are some other enclosures within the tower that create a small alcázar which is difficult to access.
In a lower area of the castle, protected with defensive remains of rammed earth and irregular masonry, is an old Muslim farmstead.
After a recent restoration, an open-air theater has been built on La Iruela castle enclosure. This theater is a tribute to the Greek and Classic Eras and holds various artistic and cultural shows throughout the year.
The first traces of human activity in La Iruela area are dated from the Copper Age. An intense occupation continued until the Bronze Age.
Originally, La Iruela (like Cazorla) was a modest farmstead. From the 11th century, a wall and a small fortress were built on the hill to protect the farmers.
Around 1231, don Rodrigo Ximénez de Rada, Archbishop of Toledo, conquered La Iruela and made it part of the Adelantamiento de Cazorla. Over the Muslim fortress, the current fortress was built.
Once the military use of the fortress ended, it was used as cemetery.