The vocation of Mandas is clear from the etymology of the place name, attributable to the Sardinian Mandara and Latin Mandra, or ‘livestock enclosure’, with the area having long been an important agricultural-pastoral hub. Not by chance was Trexenta, a borderland between Campidano and Barbagia, referred to as the ‘granary of Rome’. The wide and fertile valleys of Mandas, irrigated by numerous waterways, have been characterised over the centuries by the production of wine, oil and wheat. As a result, agropastoral life is also linked to traditions and habits that have been brought back to life in the ethnographic museum is Lollasa 'e is Aiaiusu, (‘the grandparents’ rooms’), a name that bears great significance. It arises in the centre of the village, in a manor house dating back to the end of the 18th century, reproducing the environments within traditional country houses thanks to the furnishings and objects from various daily activities - the loom room, the bedroom, sa lolla (entrance), the kitchen, the equipment room, the wine storage area and the oven room.
The exhibits are linked to the artisan tradition of weaving, basket-making, copper and wrought iron, still active in Mandas. There is also the production of famous cheeses, which can be appreciated at the end of July at the Sagra del Formaggio (cheese festival). The house-museum overlooks an external courtyard in which there is the church and convent of Sant’Antonio Abate, dating back to the 12th century, and a short stretch of Roman road (the Kalaris-Ulbia). The most important religious building is in the outskirts: inside the parish church of San Giacomo, built between 1585 and 1605 in Gothic-Catalan style, there are works by Spanish and local engravers: a set of wooden works with a Crucifix, Virgin Mary and St John, 17th-century multi-coloured statues and various 18th-century wooden altars. Amongst the civic buildings, not to be missed is the majestic 19th-century town hall.
The only town in Sardinia to have been elevated to the status of Duchy by a Spanish king (Philip III in 1614), for a long time Mandas was the junction of the railway that led from Cagliari to Mandrolisai and Ogliastra, today used as the tourist line of the Trenino Verde (Green Train), allowing visitors to follow in the footsteps of the English writer Lawrence, who described the itinerary set amongst cultivated hills, gorges, rocky walls and the north-eastern shore of Lago Mulargia. The territory was intensely inhabited in the Nuragic period. The greatest remnants are the Tomb of Giants of s'Arruina de su Procu and the su Angiu complex.