The town of Cagliari was probably founded way back in the VIII century BC by the Phoenicians and has always been Sardinia’s main port and the centre of power for all the peoples who have landed on the island; from the Carthaginians to the Romans, the Vandals to the Byzantines and then the Pisans, Aragonese and Piedmontese. Capital of the Sardinian region, the town developed around the hill of Castello (one of the four historical quarters, together with the Marina, Villanova and Stampace). 
In the Byzantine age, the urban centre was moved inland to the shores of the S. Gilla Lagoon and took the name of Igia. 
It was only after the XIII century, that urbanisation was restarted in the area where the city rises today and in particular, on the hill known as Castello followed by the other three quarters found on its slopes. 
As well as the artistic treasures dotted around the four historic quarters, Cagliari itself is rich with archaeological sites of considerable importance like the largest Punic necropolis second only to Carthage in the Mediterranean; This Tuvixeddu necropolis has often been threatened by building development but now seems destined to be salvaged and turned to public use. 
The most important evidence of Roman Cagliari is the amphitheatre(I-II century AD), completely dug into the rock on the slopes of the Buoncammino hill in the area called Palabanda. Next door in the Botanical Gardens, founded in 1865, we find a collection of more than 500 species of tropical plants together with the most characteristic Mediterranean kinds, and also the so-called "Villa di Tigellio", an interesting complex of three urban “domus” dating from the time of the Roman Empire. 
The burial place from the I century AD lies along the Via S. Avendrace which is the start of the Island’s main thoroughfare connecting Cagliari and Porto Torres. The grave is known as the “Grotta della Vipera”, after the animal with healing properties which appears on the gable sculpted into the rock. 
One of the most well-known images of the town, which can certainly not pass unnoticed, is the famous Basilica of Bonaria, an eighteenth century structure rising in front of a spectacular flight of steps. 

A network of lagoons and marshes extend around Cagliari and are home to a rich variety of birdlife making bird-watching possible all year round: two of the most important lagoons are Santa Gilla and Molentargius with their flocks of eye-catching flamingos. 
One of the most characteristic festivals of the Island is the “Sagra di S. Efisio”, which for over 350 years every year on May 1s.t, has coloured the streets with the costumes, songs and dances from every village in Sardinia. This celebration is particularly dear to the people of Cagliari, during which the wooden statue of the Saint is carried in a procession to the little church of Nora, where according to tradition the saint was martyred. 
Cagliari is also well-known for its cuisine which gathers suggestions and tastes from all the cultures with which it has come into contact. Two specialities among the fish dishes are worth mentioning: the "burrida", (sweet and sour dogfish) and the "fregola con le arselle " the typical pasta made with bran cooked with clams. 

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