The Maltese archipelago is so much more than just beautiful beaches and amazing landscapes. Besides all that, the 2 main islands have a very long and interesting historical past. Both Malta and Gozo boast with amazing prehistoric temples. Proof of its extraordinary past, these sites fascinate people all around the world, as no one knows for sure how and why they were built.
Furthermore, seven of eleven Maltese prehistoric monuments are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and are considered as ‘unique architectural masterpieces‘. Thus, a limit of visitors per day has been set by Heritage Malta to preserve these unique sites. Here are the most popular sites to visit:
- Hagar Qim & Mnajdra
The Hagar Qim Temple is the most spectacular Megalithic Temple in Malta. With its 5,000 years-old big walls weighing about 20 tonnes, these ruins are one of the oldest religious sites in the world. The site located in Qrendi, dates indeed from the Ggantija phase, that is to say 3600-3200 BC. A lot of statues and other artefacts, like the Maltese’s famous ‘Fat Lady’ – a figurine represented with large hips and legs, often called ‘Sleeping Lady’ as well, were found in this unique architectural best-preserved site and are nowadays kept in Valletta’s National Museum of Archaeology.
Not far from Hagar Qim (at about 500 meters), is the Mnajdra Complex. Mnajdra is really well-preserved as well but presents a wilder face than its neighbour. Facing the Mediterranean Sea, the complex site is composed of 3 temples, dating from about 3,000 BC. Some areas are however older than others. These extraordinary temples were built with a clockwork precision to mark the Solstices and usually attract a lot of visitors around that time of the year. Hagar Qim and the Mnajdra Complex were recognized as UNESCO World Heritages Sites in year 1992.
Visiting: You can visit these temples 7 days the week, from 9am to 5pm, from October till March and from 9am to 7pm, from April till September. Please note that last admissions are allowed 30 minutes before the closure time of the site. Visits are accessible for only €9 for adults and €4 for children for both temples. The buses 71 and 72 from Valletta will enable you to go to Qrendi, where you will find these Megalithic Temples.
Ggantija stands for ‘Giants’ Tower‘ or ‘Giants’ Grotto‘ in English and is a Megalithic Temple Complex situated in the city of Xaghra in Gozo. Older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian Pyramids (estimated to be 5,800 years old), this ‘Place of the Giants‘ represents one of the oldest and most complete man-made religious structures in the world. Ggantija Complex was dedicated to the Great Earth Mother, the goddess of fertility. These temples were classified as UNESCO World Heritages Sites in 1980.
Visiting: You can visit Ggantija Temples from Monday to Sunday (9am – 5pm with last admissions at 4.30pm) for only €5 for adults and €2.50 for children. Buses going on Routes 307 from Victoria or 322 from Mgarr, will drop you close to the Complex.
Tarxien Temples consist of four Megalithic Temples, built between 3,600 and 2,500 BC. Based in the town of Tarxien, the temples were first used for rituals such as animal sacrifices. Then, in the Bronze Age (2,400-1,500 BC), they were turned into a cremation cemetery. The Tarxien Temples are really famous and respected all around the world for the complexity of their architecture and craftsmanship. They are a fascinating site to visit.
Visiting: The temples are open daily for visits, from 9am to 5pm (kindly note that last admissions are at 4.30pm), for a price of €6 for adults and €3 for children. To visit Tarxien Temples, you can take the buses 81 and 82 from Valletta.