The birth of the town of Dorgali is wrapped in a mythological aura: according to some legends the name reminds us the one of its founder, a Saracen named Drugàl. According to other stories its first inhabitants were Phoenicians who relocated from their original settlement on the coast, near Fuili. Tired of the constant attacks from the sea, and after passing through the Monte Bardia (‘guard’) they settled in the locality of Isportana, that in local dialect means ‘arrive’.
Archaeologist Sites throughout the area have been inhabited since prehistoric times. In scenic cliffs of the Golfo di Orosei overlooking the famous grotte del Bue Marino. Here there is evidence of life from the final Neolithic Period (3200-2800 B.C. ) and extraordinary engravings of anthropomorphic figures that are alleged to be from the final Neolithic Period (2100-1800 B.C..
The civilization that lived in these lands have left a legacy of spectacular monuments (domus de janas, dolmen, nuragic villages, nuraghi, sacred wells, giants’ tombs). One of the most enchanting sites of the Bronze age are there and the nuragic complex of Serra Orrios. The settlement was built in a dolina within the Monte Tiscali. The remains of an ancient mule track, an enlarged Omines, between Monte Bardia and the Mount Tului upstream, have stood the test of time as the Carthaginian and Roman passage.
In the Byzantine Age the existence of the present center of the town was already well documented by the dedication of the ancient parish church to the saints Cornelius and Cyprian, martyrs venerated in eastern cult, and the discovery of a military diploma by a byzantine soldier.
In the Middle Ages, the village was part of the “curatoria” of Galtelli in the Giudicato di Gallura that in the XIII century was subjected to the pisano domination up to the clash against the crown of Aragon. The wars that followed one another in the course of the 14th Century involved great difficulties for the villa , which after the dissolution of the Gallura for the work of Spanish kings, fell under the administration of the Giudicato of Arborea. The judge Mariano IV undertook a war against the invaders but his Iberian successors were defeated in the XV century. Dorgali was also subjugated to the feudal lords chosen by Spanish royalty before and after the nineteenth century by Savoy.
The inhabitants rebelled several times to the harassment and the tyranny of administrators that oppressed them with heavy taxes. The situation became more and more difficult until 1820 when the edict of the chiudende, which included the abolition of the community use of the land and allowed the wealthy people to increase their possessions in a disorderly and excessive way, this provoked riots throughout the territory causing serious disturbances, many arrests, and executions. The riots did not cease even after the ransom from feudal regime in 1839: the economy of the city center, mainly agricultural and pastoral, was based, in fact, on its existence of labor in the fields.
In the course of the 20th century the town became one of the most interesting tourist destinations of the island thanks to the extraordinary beauty of its territory.
Between crystalline sea and lush mountains the territory of Dorgali offers an exceptional variety of landscapes and attractions including the world famous Grotte del bue marino. Inserted between the fascinating cliffs that plunge to the Gulf of Orosei, these caverns preserve extraordinary underground scenery in which are still visible ancient engravings representing men dancing and where, until the end of the Twentieth Century, there lived monk seals (from which the name of the site), today protected because of a strong risk of extinction.
Another important cave is that of Ispinigoli in Monte S’Ospile, to the north-east of the country, characterised by the presence of a huge column formed by the union of a stalactite and stalagmite that with its about 40 m in height is the highest in Europe. In a sink of the cave were found numerous skeletons of young women and precious ornaments of Phoenician era from which the name of “abyss of virgins” .
To the east the inhabited area is protected by Monte Bardia (‘Mount Guard’) that separates it from the sea. The soil is formed by different rock typologies: Basaltic, calcareous and granitic which have origin from models typical of the island flora : Holm trees; cork ; alder ; turpentine tree\, juniper, olive one alternate to the hawthorn shrubs; whitethorn; broom; heather, phyillirea, with all the other herbs typical of the Mediterranean shrub (lentisk, myrtle, rosemary ecc.). Among the characteristic species of the fauna there are: mouflons, wild boars, wild cats, weasels, martens, hares, eagles, falcons, partridges.
To the west of the town centre, past the flood of the Cedrino river on the border with the territory of Oliena, one encounters the basalt plateau of Gollei, one of the most scenic natural monuments included between the protected areas in the Region of Sardinia. The Gollei is distinguished by the impressive dam: bastions of lava in the form of organ reeds up to 20 m tall.
To the south extends the enchanting valley of Oddoene with its manicured orchards, vineyards and olive groves, it is a wonderful garden where, between the vegetation slide streams framed by white limestone.
From here you can take the uphill path of S’Iscala de Surtana which develops into the groove of Doloverre among holm oaks and junipers. Along the limestone walls to cliff enthusiasts try their mettle on the routes of sport climbing. The path allows you to arrive at Monte Tiscali that preserves a large doline karst. In its interior along the walls is a spectacular nuraghic settlement.
Toward the coast are the fascinating canyon of Codula Fuili, which leads to the lovely Fuili cove characterized by smooth white stones that cover the lido and, on the south border with the town of Baunei, Coda di Luna which takes to the famous beach Cala Luna, which for its beauty has been repeatedly chosen as the set of many films. The codula, formed by the erosion of the torrents, are the destination of many lovers of trekking and river rafting. The steep limestone walls are embellished by the blooming of oleanders and endemic species.
For lovers of the sea a must visit is the famous beaches immersed in an uncontaminated nature: in most cases to get there you go long paths or reach the beaches with boats. With the car you can reach the delicate beaches of fine sand in the north: Cala Cartoe and the Caletta di Osalla.
The great civilizations of the Mediterranean that attended its lands have left behind a rich cultural baggage that is still reflected in various Dorgali crafts today. Traditional Ornamental methods and reasons give life to sought out compositions, and authentic expressions of an extraordinary popular art handed down through the centuries.
In the able artisan shops teachers continue to offer manufacturing of the leather, the jewels in watermark, the fabrics, and ceramics. Toward the end of the Twenty years, they started testing the clays in one of the laboratories of the well known Dorgarlese artist Salvatore Fancello (1916-1941). A gathered museum is dedicated to the ceramic sculptor: an exceptionally uninterrupted 7 meter design made to slope with watercolor to admire the fantastic works.
Among the tangled streets of the historical center are preserved old homes in multiple planes built with the typical dark volcanic rock that gives them a special charm. On the main square is the parish church, dedicated to Santa Caterina, built in 1737-1745 and restructured in the 19 th Century. Inside, a precious altar is kept, carved in wood with numerous statues dating from the XVIII century.
In the countryside you encounter numerous rural shrines built during the XVII century, including the lovely church of Our Lady of Valverde , of 1655, characterised by covering made of juniper wood and the presence of typical cumbessıas (temporary accommodation for pilgrims) dedicated to Our Lady of the Buoncammino in the scenic Oddoene valley.
Throughout the territory are numerous testimonials from the prehistoric period: the most popular sites are the scenic Caves of bue marino , with extraordinary discoveries of engravings depicting men dancing that are alleged to be from the final Eneolithic Period (2100-1800 B.C.), and the Nuragic complexes of Serra Orrios and Tiscali.
The village-sanctuary of Serra Orrios (attended from the end of the Ancient Bronze to early Iron Age), is one of the most extensive and best preserved archaeological areas of the Island. It has been identified as about a hundred booths arranged in blocks with common spaces , where in some cases, there are the remains of water boreholes. Two temples have been added to the site; rectangular in structure ‘with a megaron’ enclosed by sacred fences.
Within the depths of Monte Tiscali, an incredible natural fortress, guards the impressive nuragic village which takes its name from the mountain. The site is formed by a core of circular huts or ovals and other smaller rectangular or square shapes, probably used as shelters for animals and deposits of stock.
In the surroundings are spectacular burial monuments: dolmens, domus de janas and tombs of the giants. Visit the beautiful megalithic tombs referable to the Culture of Ozieri (3200-2800 B.C.): the Dolmen of Motorra which conserve a rare corridor that precedes the polygonal chamber, and that of Monte Longu, very well preserved, and built of limestone. Among the most ancient nuragic burial sites is S’Ena de Thomes , of the Ancient Bronze Age. It shows an excellent state of conservation: the tomb of giants, in fact, has a funeral corridor almost intact and the imposing stele (upright pillar with an inscription or design) is still in its original location between the large stones of the exedra.
To deepen the knowledge of the civilizations that have succeeded one another in the territory, it is possible to visit the Archaeological Museum, which houses a collection of items dating from III millennium BC to the Medieval Era.
Located a few kilometers from the village is the Museum S the Abba frisca, inside the park where numerous running water courses supply the source from which it takes its name. This includes a nature trail that is ethnographic.