Dedicated to Saint Barbara, this route covers 500 kilometres to discover south-western Sardinia, within the Parco Geominerario Storico Ambientale. A circular route that begins and ends in Iglesias, and that will allow you to explore unspoilt forests, walk through dunes and ancient caves, including one named after the patron saint of miners, Santa Barbara.
The origins of the cult dedicated to her, in Sardinia, as in Western Europe, are due to the arrival of the Byzantine monks in the 5th century A.D., who probably inaugurated in the region another important creed, that of the Mother of God Odighitria, who greets pilgrims departing from the sanctuary dedicated to her at Iglesias, the first stop on our itinerary.
It is an unprecedented walk that retraces the paths trodden by miners and mineworkers through 8,000 years of history, from the Neolithic to the 20th century. Every day along the route we pass through post-industrial scenery characterised by gigantic disused mines, ghost villages suspended amidst memories and antique railways wedged in the Mediterranean bush, allowing us to admire a breathtaking landscape between land and sea, all the way to daring ridge paths.
The route consists of 30 stages, each on average 16 km long, and is entirely marked with blue signposts and the famous stylised tower in yellow, the symbol of the Saint’s martyrdom. The highest peak of the walk reaches 900 metres above sea level.
The route is suitable for everyone, but one must take into account the continuous altitude difference along the paths. It reaches 975 metres on the ascent, and 1,098 metres on the descent. It is recommended to have a minimum of experience on routes with short but steep ascents and descents, on different types of walking surfaces, and also to be prepared to walk on sand. The length of the stages may seem manageable for anyone, but given the large differences in height in some stages and the variety of the stages, we recommend using trekking poles, preferably foldable, so that they are light and foldable when not needed.
The “0” km is Iglesias, where pilgrims receive the Good Pilgrimage greeting from the Poor Clares of the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Cammino.
Like every Pilgrim’s Walk in Italy, the Pilgrim’s Walk of Santa Barbara also has its Credential, that is, the “pilgrim’s passport”, but also the “hiker’s passport”, who for various reasons chooses to walk the route in stages in their free time.
Stamps are placed on the Credential to certify the passage through the individual stages.
The Walk of St Barbara is distinguished by a symbolic gift that is given as a sign of recognition to all those who complete the 500 km walk: a ceramic plaque representing the logo of the walk itself, with its characteristic blue tower and yellow border.
The most beautiful season to walk it is probably spring, when the blossoms are expressed in all their beauty and the scent of the scrub plants spreads and is carried by the wind. Autumn also offers special atmospheres. It is also the right season to taste some seasonal fruit.
In Sardinia, former miners and their descendants are still very devoted to Saint Barbara, who is celebrated every year with celebrations and processions that you may encounter in the countryside and villages.
Along the Walk you will encounter country churches and places of worship dedicated to the Saint, devotional statues, and in the mines, some chapels dedicated to her.
The last stage of the St Barbara Walk ends with a visit to an unbelievable and unexpected natural show: the Cave of St Barbara. It is one of the oldest and most unique in the world.