Domus de Janas

Domus de janas: fairy houses in Sardinia

In Sardinia, there are numerous archaeological findings from both its Nuragic and pre-Nuragic past. Among these discoveries, you’ll find a collection of rocks featuring holes and openings leading to intricate inner tunnels. These rocks, referred to by locals as “fairy houses”, are known as domus de janas. To learn more about these intriguing structures, we'll explore what they are and provide a list of the top 5 best domus de janas to visit.

History and architecture

Dating back to pre-Nuragic times, domus de janas are archaeological discoveries that consist of prehistoric tombs carved into rock and connected through a network of underground tunnels and corridors. The elaborate labyrinthine structures served as “towns” where the deceased could reside and interact with one another in the afterlife.

Sardinia boasts more than 2,400 of these structures, out of which 215 feature colorful decorations and sculptural motifs.

Legends and folklore

The term “domus de janas” translates to “house of fairies”. According to popular legend, these ancient rock tunnels served as the homes of supernatural beings known as janas. These magical creatures were believed to be a cross between fairies and witches.

As the legend goes, during full moon nights, the janas would emerge from their underground tunnels dressed elegantly in red robes and adorned with golden jewelry. They would interact with the passersby and invite them to visit their homes. Those who entered these mystical dwellings had to choose between showing respect or stealing valuable treasures such as gold and silver coins and jewelry. Those who acted with respect were rewarded, as the janas would either grant them a portion of the treasure or protect their belongings with magic. On the other hand, those who stole from the fairies would face harsh punishments, such as blindness, memory loss, or being turned into rock or ashes.

Click here to discover the most interesting ones and how to get there

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