Travel and Culture in Sardinia

Olbia: history

The town, the history.



Olbia: Pedres castle

The name Olbia (from the Greek olbios = happy) continues to arouse controversy among the experts about the Greek origins of the town (eighth century B.C.), but it seems that the official foundation was made by Phoenicians and Carthaginians. In 238 B.C. the Romans conquered Olbia (because of the perfection of its natural harbour and of its strategic position) and built some important public works.

Then with the sixth century and the general decline of the Roman Empire a period of decay started and included the short but violent Vandal domination, that lasted until the end of the millenium.

Olbia returned to life with the period of the Giudicati and became an episcopal see and the capital of the Gallura Giudicato. It was a period of self-government and glory for the whole island, but also of continuous and bloody fights, not only among the families who were rival for the attainment of the power, but also because of the constant attempt of the powerful seaside towns (Pisa and Genua) to control the region. The ruins of the medieval castle of Pedres, that dominates the town from a nearby hill, bears witness of this period.

In the fourteenth century the town surrendered to the Aragonese and then to the Spaniards: it was the beginning of a new decline. 1600 is, for the whole Gallura, a sad period of famines, plagues and pirate raids. After a short pause of Austrian influence, Sardinia reunited with the rest of the peninsula with the Aia Treaty in 1720 that left it to the Savoia Crown: finally a new period of growth started and Olbia became again the most important centre in Gallura.

It was seriously bombed during the second World War, then it returned to new life in the 60s, with the touristic improvement of the Smeralda Coast and became one of the most dynamic centres of the island.

By Studitalia - School of Italian language and culture, Olbia

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