Palau Porto Raphael
The little town of Palau is located on a gentle slope between the promontories of Punta Sardegna and Capo d’Orso. Palau is the closest town to the island of La Maddalena. This is the main reason for its origin and development. In fact, at the end of the 18th century some of the shepherd’s shelters had been used as post office for the courier directed to the archipelago. Later, the increasing trade and the railway link to the city of Tempio Pausania have attracted more and more inhabitants. The area of Palau is rich in archaeological sites. Worth a visit are the giant’s tomb of Li Mizzani and the Nuraghe Luchia.
In the 18th century the areas of Altura and Capo d’Orso have been fortified to protect the coastline from enemies.
Today Palau is one of the lively spot in North Sardinia. The main road and the harbour area are full of bar, restaurants and shops of every kind, including those selling fishing gear, local craftsmanship and coral. In summer, the area in front of the harbour hosts a large and crowded outdoor market.
There are several panoramic spots not too far from the centre of Palau, from where enjoying a very wide view of the coast. Capo d’Orso is dominating the east side from the Costa Smeralda to the islands of Santo Stefano and Caprera; Barrage is the best place to enjoy the view of Palau and of its inner lands, though the best view of the archipelago is from Altura.
Porto Raphael is a very small and picturesque village west of Palau set along the side of a promontory. There is a narrow path making its way through the thick vegetation from the church of Santa Rita to the piazzetta, just in front of the beach. Houses set in a semicircle surround the piazzetta. People say that the peculiar details of these houses reflect the personality of Earl Raphael, the Englishman that first set here. The promontory ends at Punta Sardegna, right in front of the island of Spargi.
Many villas have now been built, some of them perfectly hidden behind rocks and trees.
Large granite rocks extremely smooth characterize the whole area. Some find a direct resemblance to the sculptures of H. Moore though it is more likely that the artist took inspiration from nature to shape his sculptures.
The area takes its name from the bear-shaped rock at the top of the hill. The name means literally Cape Bear. The rock is quite large and can be clearly seen from the sea. The power of the wind and of the salt has slowly shaped the rock. It has also worn the bear here and there as well as all other rocks in the hill. Mistral winds can be very strong in Palau as well as in the whole North East Sardinia, especially in winter.
When seen from the sea, the bear transmits the calmness typical of someone being in a dominant position. At a closer look the sensation it conveys is very different, the main feeling being that of a giant trying to resist the winds, struggling not to fall apart. The rock of the bear has been observed since the times of the Greeks, as witnessed by the geographer Ptolemy and by Homer.
The harbour of Palau is mainly used by ferries linking mainland Sardinia to the island of La Maddalena.
The marina is located south of the main harbour and it is home of many companies renting boats of any kind or offering guided excursions to the archipelago.
- 400 berths;
- 1 main jetty;
- 7 floating piers;
- 2 main docks;
- 1 transit dock.