Port of Cagliari
Review and History

The Port of Cagliari lies on the southern shores of the island of Sardinia, a region in Italy. The capital of Sardinia, it is just over 400 kilometers southwest of Rome. It is the island’s main industrial and commercial center, and the port boasts one of the largest container terminals in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Port of Cagliari is home to flour mills, sugar refineries, and manufacturers of ceramics, cement, and superphosphates. Tourism, agriculture, and the extraction of salt are also important to the local economy. In 2006, over 160 thousand people lived in the Port of Cagliari, and around 500 thousand lived in the city’s suburbs.

Port History

The Port of Cagliari was home to early man in prehistoric times, and it is believed that the Phoenicians founded the port. Called Karalis in the 7th Century BC, it was one of many Phoenician trading colonies on the island. However, its official foundation is attributed to the Carthaginians, and it is assumed that the Port of Cagliari was important as a port under their rule.

The Greeks called it Cardlis, and it was Caralis to the Romans. The Carthaginians held the town until Rome occupied the Port of Cagliari during the Second Punic War of the early 3rd Century BC. It was the most important village on the island for Imperial Rome, and a portion of the Misenum fleet was stationed there. A Roman amphitheater and necropolis are evident in the marina area today. The residents of the Port of Cagliari supported Caesar in the war between him and Pompey, and other Sardinian cities followed their lead.

After the Western Empire of Rome fell, Sardinia and the Port of Cagliari were overrun by the Vandals. The Byzantine Empire then took the city and the island. While the port was independent during the Middle Ages, some evidence suggests that the city had been deserted by people fleeing Moorish pirates.

The Pisan Republic conquered and rebuilt the Port of Cagliari during the 11th Century, attracted by its strategic position on the commercial trading routes between North Africa and Italy.

The Spanish Aragon kingdom took the Port of Cagliari from the Pisans during the 14th Century, using it as a base for the conquest of the island of Sardinia. The Port of Cagliari became Aragon’s administrative capital. For a time, the Spanish dominated Sardinia, and it is believed that this was a decadent period for the Port of Cagliari.

After a brief rule by the Austrian Habsburgs, the House of Savoy took the Port of Cagliari and the island in 1720, naming themselves the kings of Sardinia. The kingdom of Sardinia covered lands beyond the island into Italy and France. However, the capital of their kingdom was in Turin, mainland Italy, where the kings and the nobility lived.

After the French Revolution, France attempted to conquer the Port of Cagliari to gain its important strategic position. However, the people of Sardinia defended the port and drove the French off the island. The defenders expected special concessions from the House of Savoy for their accomplishment, but the king did not respond. Insulted, the residents of the Port of Cagliari rebelled and sent the Savoys packing. Even though that day is still celebrated in Cagliari, the Savoys soon returned and took control of the town.

After Sardinia was unified with Italy in the 1870s, the Port of Cagliari began to grow rapidly. Many new buildings arose. The Port of Cagliari has long been the military headquarters for the island of Sardinia. During World War II, the Italian naval and air bases there were all but destroyed by Allied bombs. Many residents of Cagliari fled inland to escape the bombing. After Italy surrendered to the Allies in 1943, German forces occupied the port for a time before they had to retreat to the mainland. The US Army then took control of the Port of Cagliari. Many airports were constructed for flights to North Africa, mainland Italy, and Sicily during the war. A NATO airbase is still located on the island.

After the war, the Port of Cagliari’s residents returned, and new residential districts arose. Since then, the Port of Cagliari is home to one of Italy’s biggest fish markets. It is the island’s primary business center, with many important Italian companies locating there. Tourism is also a mainstay of the local economy.

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