Sardinia of fairies: discovering the Domus de Janas
Legend has it that the Janas were small fairies who lived in tiny houses carved into the rock, called Domus de Janas, or fairy houses.
Actually, what are known as Fairy Houses were pre-Nuragic tombs dug into the rock more than five thousand years ago by locals with the help of stone picks.
In Sardinia, scattered throughout the island, there are around 3,500 of them, an important testimony to the funerary cult of the people of the time.
The stories that passing populations have developed over the years about these places are the most varied.
Some say that fairies used to spend their time weaving on their magnificent golden looms and watching over the children's sleep. Some say they lavished their riches on those who deserved it, there are those who swear they saw them in person playing or fighting with other fantastic creatures such as elves and goblins.
What we do know for sure is that magic really exists in these enchanted places and you can feel it by visiting them and discovering their features.
Ceilings and hearths, the architecture of the Domus de Janas
Excavated in isolated boulders or grouped in necropolises on rocky ridges, many of the Domus de Janas were built in the likeness of the homes of living people, complete with double-pitched ceilings, hearths, columns and false doors, symbolising the passage to the afterlife.
Of the thousands discovered, to date more than 200 preserve carved, engraved and painted decorative motifs within them. From spirals to bovine heads, and even taurine horns.
If you are in Sardinia and are fascinated by this history, you will have no trouble getting to the sites where you can visit the most beautiful Domus de Janas.
Where are the Domus de Janas located
These include Montessu, in the heart of Sulcis, where there are 35 Domus de Janas, which can be spotted observing the walls of the necropolis that stretches out like an amphitheatre. These tombs were skilfully excavated from the 3rd millennium BC onwards, and inside you can see the spiral decorations.
Then there is S’Incantu, a few kilometres from Alghero, known as a tomb of painted architecture, developed in several rooms, resembling huts from the Neolithic era.
If you are in the north-central part of the island, you must visit Sant'Andrea Priu, where you will be amazed by three necropolis domus of enormous dimensions. Here you will find The Tomb of the Chief which, with its 250 square metres, will leave you speechless.
Then there is Sas Concas, in Nuoro’s Barbagia region, with the Tomb of the Hemicycle, a complex structure and many symbolic depictions on the walls, including eleven engravings resembling upside-down men.
Finally, there is Anghelu Ruju, between Alghero and Fertilia. It is a real valley in the hinterland of Alghero where there are 38 tombs excavated in sandstone. Interesting fact: The stone picks used to dig them were found inside.