Su Mannau Cave: a journey into earth’s hearth
Su Mannau Cave: underground magic
The undisputed charm of the Su Mannau Cave, a magnificent karst complex in continuous evolution.
In the heart of Sulcis Inglesiente, an hour and fifteen minutes drive from Cagliari lies one of the most fascinating and exciting places in the southwest of Sardinia, a spectacular karst cavity that leaves you breathless thanks to its incredible natural beauty.
This is the Su Mannau Cave, of considerable speleological interest and significant archaeological importance, a karst complex made by nature 540 million years ago and still evolving.
Immersing underground in the Fluminimaggiore means making a magical journey into the bowels of the earth and being enchanted by the presence of crystalline blue lakes, white stalactites and stalagmites, red shades of rocks and the luminous transparency of crystals.
The extensive system of caves, among the oldest in the world, winds for eight kilometres below the limestone block that from Su Mannau – Terra Nieddas arrives at the slope of Antas – Oghittu and is divided into two main branches that originate from the two inland streams: the right one, the largest and almost horizontal, it derives from the river Rapido while the left one, with splendid ducts and halls, from the river Placido.
The area that can be visited by tourists is located on the left branch and is divided into two zones for 500 meters.
The first wonder that unfolds before the eyes is the “Archaeological Room”, already frequented in pre-Nuragic times and used as an underground temple for the cult of water.
Right here you can admire numerous terracotta oil lamps, testimonies of the religious past: the cave was connected, through a “sacred path”, to the nearby Punic and Roman Temple of Antas, dedicated to the worship of the Sardinian god “Sardus Pater Babai“.
The visit continues along the speleological branch where, with the help of the guides, begins a suggestive excursion of about an hour between comfortable steel walkways suspended along the course of the river Rapido, waterfalls, tanks and lakes with crystal clear water where the shrimp Stenasellus nuragicus lives, an almost transparent unique species in the world.
Then continue along the left branch, drawn by salt and wells, until you reach the Rodriguez Well: a staircase leads to its belvedere where stands a seven-meter column in the centre, formed by a stalactite connected to a stalagmite.
Descending to the base of the 23-meter-deep well, you reach the branch of Infinity starts, embellished with cave pearls and magnificent crystals, connected to the Sala Serra, full of white columns.
The right branch, on the other hand, boasts a series of spectacular communicating rooms: the Sala del sonno, with columns that stand out for 15 meters, the Roof Lake, 5 meters deep and 40 meters long, the Ribaldone Hall with a height of 150 meters, the White Room where you can admire aragonites and stalagmites that cannot be found elsewhere, the Virgin Room, an authentic pearl with singular coralloid aragonites, the Sala Bizzarra, with its original mushroom-shaped concretions, and the Salone degli Abeti, with a height of 40 meters and the floor embellished with crystals that resemble fir trees.
Su Mannau Cave, a legendary setting
A fairy-tale and breathtaking place, the Su Mannau Cave is also cloaked in an aura of legend.
It is said that it became the captive home of the ogre Mannau, frightening but kind-hearted, who was condemned, by the men of the Iron Age, to live in the cave because of its ugliness.
In the terrible darkness of the cave, the ogre mourned day and night the lost freedom and, thus, his tears dug into the rock forming the tunnels and blue lakes that today enchant visitors.
The Cave of Su Mannau can be reached by car by taking the SS 126 from Iglesias towards Fluminimaggiore.
Just before arriving in the village, on the right, you will find the deviation for the cave complex, well marked by special signs.
In front of the cave, there is a large parking lot with a bar and outdoor tables.
The visit is allowed only with the help of expert guides who manage the Cave and are limited in number to prevent the excess of people from causing a change in the humidity and temperature conditions of the rooms.
Priority is given to bookings. Visits to the tourist branch last about an hour.
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