Santa Barbara Cave and San Giovanni Mine

The Santa Barbara Cave provides the most stunning surprise effect in the Iglesiente tourist offer: a unique treasure in the world made possible by human work and natural forces.

Even the history of its discovery is surprising. In 1952, during excavation for the construction of an ascending tunnel, the incredible spectacle of this magnificent cavern appeared before the astonished eyes of the workers who had demolished a rocky wall. The great natural cavity was unknown to the scientific world because it was hidden in the heart of the mountain. The cave is an exemplary case for its dark brown tabular barite crystals that cover the walls, between the waxy limestone layer and the yellow silicified dolomite, formations from the Lower Cambrian period dating back to about 500 million years ago.

This site of great charm is located inside the San Giovanni Mine and is accessible through an intricate system of underground tunnels made accessible by a train that, after a 700-meter ride, leads to an elevator that rises along a shaft. From the entrance, located at the top of a spiral staircase, a real underground cathedral opens up, sparkling and majestic. The rock formations carve fascinating and colorful bas-reliefs making the cave a magic place.

San Giovanni is one of the oldest mines in Sardinia, exploited during the Roman and Pisan periods, and perhaps even earlier during the Nuragic period. 

Industrial activity was undertaken in 1867 by the English company Gonnesa Mining Company Ltd, which began the exploitation of Pb/Ag minerals (argentiferous galena) and Zn (calamine and blende).

The mine was also distinguished by modern mineral processing facilities, including one of the first mechanical washing plants and innovative flotation units. 

Disadvantageous market situations, increased energy costs for water pumping, and the decreasing ore grade led to the closure of the mine in 1998, the last one in Iglesiente to cease activity.


The number of visitors is limited for safety reasons. It is strongly recommended to purchase tickets before the visit.

Tickets for the guided tour of the Santa Barbara Cave can be purchased exclusively:

  • online from the form on this page
  • at the ticket office at the Tourism Office in Piazza Municipio

It is recommended to arrive at the ticket office with the paper or digital ticket receipt 20 minutes in advance. Late arrival will result in the visit being missed and no refund will be given.

The visit lasts approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes and includes entry to the mine via a motorized train and an elevator; access to the cave is via a spiral staircase. English tour at 11:30 am and 3:30 pm.

The temperature inside the cave is between 16/18 °C.

Sportswear is recommended, and it is mandatory to have closed shoes.

Babies cannot be picked up: they must walk the entire way or be carried in a baby carrier.
No pets allowed.


Full price: 15.00 €

Reduced price for children (ages 6-12) and seniors +65: 12.00 €

Groups (at least 15 paying adults): 13.00 €

Schools: 12.00 € (not available for online purchase)

For groups larger than 15 people, please contact the Tourism Office.


Address: Ufficio del Turismo Piazza Municipio, 1 – 09016 Iglesias – CA

Telephone:  +39 0781 274507 


Tickets for santa barbara cave

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Discover all mining sites in Iglesias

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