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Sulcis Iglesiente

Date of Submission: 01/06/2006
Criteria: (ix)(x)
Category: Natural
Submitted by:
Ministry of the Enviroment and Land protection
State, Province or Region:

Region: Sardenia - Province: Oristano and Cagliari

Ref.: 5003

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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party


In the Iglesiente area, there is the most important Italian mining compound, which comprises the Campidano Plain and the seashore, from Capo Pecora at north to Gonnessa Bay at southwest. From a geological point of view, it is an extremely important area due to the fact that, other than carboniferous granites and diorites, we can also find metal limestones and dolomites where there are the main lead and zinc veins of the island, already exploited by nuragici, roman and Punic civilizations.

A small set of rocky blocks surround this land overawed by the Monte Linas and made of metal stones (Cambrico, Silurico) and by tertiary drifts. There are oak and bearberry forests together with huge karstic pits as San Giovanni di Gonnessa cave, the Su Mannu di Fluminimaggiore cave, close to the Antas temple and the San Giovanni di Domusnovas cave.

The Sulcis territory is located in the southwestern part of Sardinia; its name comes from the old city of Sulcis in the S.Antioco island. It is made up of a great plain formed by alluvial soils and covered by seasonal rivers. It goes from the wide Rio Palmas valet to the Gonnessa bowl, from the striking S.Antioco and S.Pietro islands (Carloforte) up to the wood inside Pantaleo Santadi and Monte Nieddu di Nuxis (Sulcis Natural Park). The plain presents sporadic hills and volcanic plateaus as the Monte Sinai, the Monte Narcao and the Monte Essu; there are also several tuff plateaus together with effusive rocks as trachytes and ignimbrites of the Miocene serie; these rocks finish to the steep coasts of Altano di Portoscuso and Nido dei Passeri di S.Antioco capes.

The Sulcis archipelago is formed by two main islands: S.Pietro and S.Antioco.

The S.Pietro island, called "green island" for its landscape integrity, presents rocky volcanic coasts shaped by the wind and by the water in caves and striking unpolluted bays. Carloforte is the only settlement of the island and is situated next to the tourist port. The activities carried out are linked to the new port and to the tonnara. The salines, nowadays neglected, host several colonies of migratory birds as flamingos. In the north western part there is also a natural protected oasis.

The S.Antioco island is made up of beaches and deck sea cliffs. It is connected to the shore through a 3 km long natural isthmus. There are two urban settlements: S.Antioco (the old Sulci) and Calasetta. It as been settled since the prehistory and it holds evidence of important archaeological ruins belonging to several civilizations.

The populace of this area by several ethnic groups was due mainly to seams of lead, silver and zinc in the Iglesiente and to coal in the Sulcis.

There are evidences of pre-nuragic (rocky shelter of Su Carropu-Sirri-Carbonia, domu de janas of Montessu-Villaperuccio, Monte Crobu-Carbonia) and nuragic (the village of Serucci-Gonnesa, nuraghi Sirai-Carbonia and S. Anna Arresi, finds of the Benatzu-Santadi cave) archaeological ruins.

As from the half of the VII century B.C., the Phoenicians established the Sulcis, Porto Pino, Bithia and Nora urban settlements. Later the fortified settlements of Monte Sirai and Pani Loriga-Santadi were established, while the control of the high Sulcis area is proved by the Antas-Fluminimaggiore temple; this was established by the punics, dedicated to Sardus Pater Babai and also attended by Romans. During the roman age were established Nora and Sulcis urban settlements.

The most relevant age of the Sardinian mines starts from the birth of the Sardinian Kingdom by the sabaudo government, up to the closing of the mines occurred at the beginning of the 90's.

Thanks to the interest toward the extractive industry in the Sulcis Iglesiente area, the construction of roads, dams and railways was launched for the development of the region. Many villages for miners arose in the area together with sinks, foundries and washeries.

Between the 1936 and the 1938, Carbonia was built in the centre of the Sulcis carboniferous region in order to duly welcome the increasing population working in the mining sector.

The close union of several aspects therefore, distinguishes the whole Sulcis Iglesiente area: natural, archaeological and neglected mining settlements as an evidence of unchanged activities during the course of centuries.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The Sulcis and Iglesiente areas represent two out of eight areas included in the geo-mining historical and environmental park of Sardinia.

During the last 150 years the Sardinia region created a huge human, historical and cultural heritage. Aiming at protecting the latter the autonomous region launched a productive rehabilitation process for the integrated valorisation of the natural resources of the territory envolved in the past mining activities.

With these elements, the Sardinia region assigned to the Sardinian mining body (EMSA) the  realisation of a study in order to set up a cognitive and programmatic framework for the localization priority intervention scenarios aiming at safeguard and protect all the valuable elements: cultural, environmental and archeo-industrial.

The EMSA study suggested the establishment of the geo-mining historical and environmental park of Sardinia as the most strategic tool for the rehabilitation, the economical and social development of the dismissed mining areas of Sardinia.

In 1997, the EMSA study report was used by the Sardinia Region to move for the UNESCO a proposal for the international acknowledgement of the "geo-mining historical and environmental park of Sardinia". The proposal was assessed by the UNESCO as excellent. Then the General Conference of UNESCO decided to consider the geo-mining historical and environmental park of Sardinia the very first figurative example of the newly established network of geo-sites/geo-parks established during the General Conference itself.

In July 1998, the UNESCO subscribed in Paris the official act of the acknowledgement of the geo-mining historical and environmental park of Sardinia.

The 30th of September 1988, it has been established the Cagliari Paper between the UNESCO, the Ministry for the Environment and Land Protection, the Sardinia Region, the Italian UNESCO Commission, the Universities of Cagliari and Sassari and EMSA.

The Cagliari Paper set up the fundamental principles for the preservation and the recover of the technical-scientific, historical, cultural and environmental heritage linked to the human events that involved the mining and geological resources of Sardinia.

The geo-mining historical and environmental park of Sardinia was established with the decree of the Minister for the Environment and Land Protection by a common accord with the Minister for the Productive Activities, the Education and the Research and the Sardinia Region, the 16th October 2001.

The objectives of the parks are the protection and the valorisation of the technical-scientific, historical, cultural and environmental heritage of the whole set of assets present within the park. For this purpose the managing consortium of the park will carry out the following activities:

a) Recover and maintain the entire set of mining infrastructures for environmental, scientific, educational, cultural and tourist purposes. Particular emphasis will be put on those geological sites environmentally jeopardized and those with a scientifical/technical and historical/cultural relevance;

b) Recover and maintain archives and museum infrastructures for the safeguard of archaeological, documentary, library, photography and cultural industrial heritage;

c) Protect and maintain both habitats and the cultural environment induced by the mining activities as well as the environmental reclamation of the sites;

d) Protect and maintain the archaeological areas and the anthropic values of the human activities linked to the mining sector;

e) Promote and support education, sport, arts, cultural and entertainments activities.

Valorisation and preservation activities are also carried out by:

  • The XIX Mountain Community of Sulcis Iglesiente;
  • The WWF that manage the natural reserve of Monte Arcosu-Monte Lattias;
  • Linasia cooperative that manage the Monte Linas, Marganai-Oridda, Montimannnu Park. Its main activity is represented by the preservation, the valorisation and safeguard of the forest;
  • The Management of the State Forest of Cagliari that manage the Linasia botanic garden project;
  • The LIPU that manage, together with the Province of Cagliari, the S.Pietro Municipality and the Natural protected oasis of S.Pietro island.

Comparison with other similar properties

Although the specificity of the Sulcis Iglesiente area does not allow a direct comparison with other world sites, it is therefore referred to other mining areas already subscribed to the world heritage list:

  • Industrial compound on coal mines of Zollverein in Essen (Germany);
  • Rammelsberg mines and the historical city of Goslar (Germany);
  • Neolithic mines for the extraction of slint in Spiennes (Mons, Belgium)
  • Mining area of the great mountain of Rame in Falun (Sweden);
  • Salt mines in Wieliczka (Poland).