Casa Zapata is a stately home built on a nuraghe. The museum complex of Casa Zapata is located in Marmilla, which can be found less than an hour away from Cagliari - in the Municipality of Barumini, famous all over the world for its Nuragic site.
When arriving at Casa Zapata, the visitors have the impression that they are going to visit only a beautiful, noble house. Indeed, this seventeenth-century palace was built by the Aragonese Zapata family. This noble family arrived in Sardinia to follow the infant Alfonso who was preparing to conquer the island. Alfonso, in fact, had acquired the fiefdoms of Barumini, Las Plassas, and Villanovafranca.
Visitors will enter an ancient noble palace and suddenly find themselves walking over a nuraghe. Visiting Casa Zapata is like travelling back in time. The collective imagination refers to a noble residence of the sixteenth century. A few steps will be enough to take you back in time, about three thousand years ago.
The peculiarity of Casa Zapata lies in the fact that the building was erected on the ruins of a nuraghe called "Nuraxi 'e Cresia" (the nuraghe of the Church, as it is located next to the beautiful parish church of the Blessed Virgin Immaculate).
The excavation work to bring the nuraghe to light began in 1990, on the occasion of the restoration of Casa Zapata. By digging the floor, this nuraghe, which had its maximum splendor between 1200 and 1000 BCE, was found in the lower level. The excavation works safeguarded the structure of this noble house and made the vision of the Nuragic complex accessible from above, through suspended walkways and transparent floors.
Inside the house, there are the two towers of the nuraghe (the central and the east). Two other towers are located right outside (the double wall and the village). The excavation works are still in progress; therefore, it is not yet possible to establish the exact conformation of the whole complex.
Casa Zapata is a rare example of Hispanic construction in Sardinia. It is a two-story building, with frescoes and decorations typical of the Spanish architecture, characterized by good aesthetic taste and luxury display. In the central part of the facade, the Zapata coat of arms is carved, a red shield with three golden checkered shoes. The same style is recognized in the Castle of Cagliari, whose construction was commissioned by the same Zapata family. In addition to the main building with an adjoining garden, there are two other buildings built subsequently, for agricultural use.
After the death of the last Baroness of the Zapata family, Donna Concetta, the building had a long period of total abandonment, after which the municipality of Barumini acquired the property, unaware of the presence of the nuraghe below the building. The museum complex of Casa Zapata was opened in 2006 and is divided into three distinct sections: archaeological, ethnographic, and historical.
The main and oldest part of the building houses the archaeological section: in addition to the nuraghe, there are a series of display cases containing over 180 restored artifacts, dating back to the Nuragic civilization. The historical section tells the story of the Zapata family through documents, old photographs, and objects. On the other hand, the ethnographic section hosts an exhibition space of utensils related to peasant and artisan life and a space reserved for the Regional Museum of Launeddas - a typical musical instrument of the Sardinian tradition built using three pipes.
The setting up of the museum complex was reorganized in 2014 and integrated with multimedia and multilingual workstations. There is also a tactile work station for blind people. The whole center is accessible to disabled people.
Near Casa Zapata, we recommend a visit to the Church of the Beata Vergine Immacolata, right next to it. Continuing and leaving the town of Barumini, you can decide to head towards the Grande Nuraghe (Su Nuraxi) or towards Tuili, visiting the characteristic village and then going up to the Giara plateau. The park, "Sardinia in Miniature," is also interesting.
A visit to Casa Zapata, a stately home built on a nuraghe, will take you back in time to different eras... choose the era you prefer! Have a good time!
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