From promontories overlooking the sea they looked down on heavenly beaches and from mountain ridges they dominated valleys, at their feet picturesque villages and coastal towns. The castles of the Judicates were built between the 11th and 14th centuries, housing military garrisons and sometimes also serving as noble residences. Having given up their defensive role, they were gradually abandoned: many have been lost, others are now intriguing ruins immersed in the rugged Sardinian landscape, and many have come down to us almost intact.
Every castle has its own mysterious legend, ever-present ghosts, controversial and compelling tales, fed by popular imagination and reworked from generation to generation. Sometimes these tales have been distorted over time, but all of them bear a grain of truth. Stories of bloody battles, unsolved 'mysteries', love affairs, prisons, voluntary retreats, kidnappings, torture, escapes and betrayals are told, stories that pervade the watchtowers, the underground passages, the dark halls, the beautiful weapons rooms and the sumptuous dining rooms. The myth that often unites them are the riches stored in coffers hidden in rooms through secret passages. Treasure hunting was always tricky and to discourage the more daring adventurers, the treasure chest was placed next to a similar one but full of muscas maceddas, giant and monstrous stinging flies. Endless labyrinthine tunnels, on the other hand, would have been the escape routes to dodge enemy sieges. Not just stories of men, weapons and ghosts of varying degrees of credibility, in Sardinian castles the protagonists are often women, sometimes mythical figures such as the janas or extraordinary women from history, above all the Judge Eleonora d'Arborea, to whom the fate of many Judicial fortresses is linked.