The forest of Marganai covers, with a great abundance of plants, a surface of 3650 ha and is situated in the territory between Domusnovas and Iglesias.
Not a long time ago this area was well-known for its minerals and even if the landscape is still strongly marked by mining facilities and villages, it still preserves its original beauty. After dismissing the extraction of minerals, the new challenge for this territory is safeguarding its rich biodiversity.
The forest offers plenty of evocative paths, through the habit of various species of animals and an unique richness of endemic vegetation.
Today the Marganai territory is part of the project “Natural Parc Monte Linas, Marganai-Oridda, Montimannu” covering an area of 22.220 ha and including the territories of Domusnovas, Fluminimaggiore, Gonnosfanadiga, Iglesias and Villacidro.
The higher parts are home to holm oaks, besides that, the main elements of forest formation consist of Mediterranean scrubland (Mediterranean Maquis) and cork oaks, which grow on ancient rocks. The imposing massif shows high peaks and a large exposed rocky surface on the northern side. Elevation differences are between 214 and 1009 m (Monte Nipis) above the sea level. There are small rivers, flowing usually from autumn to spring and sculpting the surroundings in an impressive way. The area is home to many species of animals, such as wild cats, wildboars, foxes, weasels, peregrine falcons and there is a chance to catch sight of a golden eagle.
There is as well a botanical garden, which offers the opportunity to admire part of the rich local vegetation. Endemic flora embellishs the forest with Helichrysum montelinasanum, Iberis integerrima, Genista sulcitana and Festuca morisiana.
One of the most attractive sites of natural beauty is the cave of S. Giovanni, a large calcareous grotto, which has been tunnel-like perforated by a road, tracking the way of a small river called Rio Sa Duchessa.
The territory offers as well some archeological remains of the prehistorical local civilisation and a temple dating back to the Carthaginian-Roman time, known as the temple of Antas. The temple is situated in a very seductive valley, a few km from Fluminimaggiore and was dedicated to a local divintiy, called Babai (Sid Addir for the Carthaginians and Sardus Pater for the Romans). The presence of these populations was due to the once rich deposits of lead and iron. There are older traces of human presence in this area, that date back to the end of the Bronze Age, 1200 years b.C.: a small necropolis nearby the temple and the remains of a nuragic village (the name comes from the most important local civilisation, that built thousands of conical towers, spread all over the island, called nuraghi).
Worth to mention are the many signs left by years of mining activities: abandoned buildings that once where part of numerous and active mining villages, such as Sa Duchessa, Arenas, Malacalzetta, Reigraxius, all witnesses of a recent past, when mineral extraction was the main economic resource for the whole Sulcis area. Today the view of these ruins, embraced by green hills and woods, is quite fascinating and gives a powerful picture of Nature restoring control!