Known mainly for the herd of wild horses living on its territory, the Giara di Gesturi, called in Sardinian Sa Jara Manna, is a 600-meters-high basaltic plateau of vulcanic origin, with a surface of about 42 square chilometers. The area is located in the region of Marmilla, in the central-south part of the island. This exceptional geological formation consitutes an extremely imporant habitat of various plants and animals. An interesting and particular spot on the map of Sardinia, known for the last herd of wild horses in Europe, wonderful nature and historical spots.
Giara di Gesturi, an important natural habitat
The plateau of the Giara di Gesturi was formed about two millions years ago, as a consequence of the tectonic movements and the activity of two vulcanoes, Zepparedda and Zeppara Manna¹. A spot with very diversified vegetation, covered by the typical Mediterreanean shrub, the cork and hold oaks forests, as well as numerous herbs, like the strawberry tree, myrtle or Helichrysum italicum.
The best-known inhabitants of Giara di Gesturi are the wild horses. Called in Sardinian Cuaddeddu de sa Jara, the horses are a native species of an unknown origin. Due to the difficult environmental conditions, the animals are rather small in size, reaching up to 135 cm of height, and for this reason are sometimes called ponies. It is still not certain how the species reached the island. Some scientists believe, that they might have been brought by the Phoenicians or the Greeks around the V or IV century BC. According to other theories, the species derives from the horses present in Sardinia since the Neolithic age.
Source of the picture http://www.sardegnasentieri.it/da-vedere/giara-di-gesturi
The surface of the plateau is full of hollows of the land, called in Sardinian paulis, which fill up with water and serve as watering places for animals. The biggest one is Pauli Maiori, a container which reaches the maximum of 1.3 meters of depth² and holds water all year round.
Visiting the Giara di Gesturi and surroundings
Apart from the beautiful nature and interesting geological formation, the Giara di Gesturi and its surrounding are also an extraordinarily important place from the historical point of view. On the plateau, there are the remains of about 23 nuraghs, ancient fortifications built by the Nuragic civilization which inhabited Sardinia in the Bronze Age. Close to the Giara di Gesturi there is also one of the most important Sardinian nuraghe called the su Nuraxi of Barumini. This millenial complex which consists of the ruins of five towers (a central tower and four corner towers) as well as a village, was erected in the 17th century BC. Due to its importance and invaluable historical meaning, in 1997 the nuraghe was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Source of the picture https://www.sardegnaturismo.it/en/explore/barumini
Source of the picture on top of the page