Su Mannau Grotte

Useful Information

Location: Località Su Mannau, 09010 Fluminimaggiore SU.
South of Fuminimaggiore, Cagliari, Sardegna. From Guspini or Iglesias follow SS126 across the mountains, turnoff at km 59 signposted.
(39.407893, 8.493887)
Open: 10-APR to daily 10:15, 11:30, 12:45, 14:15, 15:30, 16:45.
Fee: Adults EUR 12, Children (6-12) EUR 7, Children (0-5) free.
Groups (25+) Adults EUR 9, School Pupils EUR 7.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=8,250 m, VR=160 m, A=220 m asl, Tair=16 °C, Twater=8 °C, H=98 %.
Guided tours: D=1 h, L=500 m. Italiano - Italian Audioguide English Français - French Deutsch - German
V=20,000/a [2000]
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Su Mannau Grotte S.a.S, Via Vittorio Emanuele 81, Localita Su Mannau, I-09010 Fluminimaggiore, (Cagliari), Tel: +39-0781-580411, Tel: +39-347-54-13-624. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1930 speleological branch first explored by Paolo Rodriguez.
1978 exploration by the Speleo Club di Cagliari.
1990 artificial entrance tunnel built and cave opened to the public.


The Grotta di Su Mannau (Giant's Cave) is located at the west coast of the island in the middle of a mountain ridge. It has several huge chambers and was thus called Giant's Cave. But there is also the version that it was named after an Ogre which lived in the cave. The cave is the resurgence of the Rio Su Mannau. It was known for a long time used as an underground temple since the pre-Nuragic times.

After the entrance the passage splits, to the right is the Sala Archeologica (Archaeological Chamber) which is 70 m long and 20 m high. The name is a result of the numerous archaeological remains which were found. It seems the chamber was of great religious importance, at the small cave lake the Mother Goddess, whose symbol is water, was worshipped. This cult is connected with the nearby temple of Antas, located a few kilometres away. Small fragments of oil lamps of various shapes were found all over the chamber. The archaeological remains are from three periods Nuragic, Punic and Roman. An ancient road connected the Antas Valley with the Su Mannau Cave.

The other branch of the cave is called the speleological branch, because it has no archaeological remains. Originally there was a very narrow passage, which was accessible only to speleologists. It was opened to the public in 1990 by an artificial tunnel. However, it was accessible with some effort, and the curious and mineral collectors, who visited this part, caused obvious damage to the speleothems.

The first chamber is the Sala Centrale (Central Chamber), it is a sort of central connection as it connects the upper level to the lower level of the cave with a 20 m deep shaft. The right branch is 5 km long and has a cave river named Rio Rapido (Rapid River) which flows through Antas Valley on the southern side of the mountain ridge until it goes underground into the cave system. The left branch is 2 km long and the bed of the Rio Placido (Placid River) which originates from the mountains to the east. The show cave follows the upper fossil level of the left branch.

The Lago degli Stenasellus was named after Stenasellus nuragicus, a troglobiont shrimp which is endemic. To protect this unique animal the other pools where it lives where avoided during the show cave development. In addition, the material of the pathway has been optimised: The galvanised steel walkways do not rust and therefore do not release substances into the water that would endanger the species. From the bridge a side branch is visible, which is very rich in concretions. Also, the numerous calcite crystals in the lake can be seen, which grow underwater, and the rimstones of the pools.

The next part is called Il Ramo Fossile (The Fossil Branch), which states the obvious as there is no cave river. It still has rimstone pools, but they fill only during heavy rains. At the end of the passage is an outlook, where the long staircase leading down the Pozzo Rodriguez (Rodriguez Well), which has a large column in the center. The chamber was named after Paolo Rodriguez who was the first who explored this branch in 1930. According to legend he broke a leg when he explored this shaft, but since no body was found when they developed the cave they think he was rescued. Halfway down is a side branch named Ramo del Pozzo Torino (Turin Well Branch). It has coralloid aragonites and continues behind the visible part for 1 km. A few years ago, the Ramo dell'Infinito (Branch of Infinity) was discovered, which has shafts, huge chambers, and end very close to the surface. However, another entrance has not been discovered so far, although plants and insects from outside were found. The tour ends at La Galleria Puddu (Puddu Gallery), which was named after a great Sardinian scholar of cave fauna. It is part of the lower level and there is a waterfall named Cascata di Galleria Puddu.

The cave is home to numerous troglobiont species. Some examples were geonewt (Hydromantes genei genei), diplopods, and isopods (Stenasellus nuragicus).