Temples

Experience the Oldest Temples in the World!

All temples have more or less the same structure; a main doorway with a central passageway and side semi circular apses.  The churches on the islands are built in a similar way, with the main altar at the other end facing the entrance door.   These temples are about 1,000 years older than the Pyramids in Egypt!  They are the earliest monumental architecture in the world.  These temples show that at the time, ancient men used to shape stones to optimal accuracy which show that they must have had some kind of advanced techonology.  This technology probably came from cart ruts which can be found all over Malta and were probably used to carry heavy machinery.  These may suggest that Malta was one of the earth's earliest evidence of industrial worksites.  


hagar qim One of the oldest religious structures in the world and a UNESCO heritage site, the Hagar Qim Temple is a single temple and a megalith structure meaning that it is made of large standing stones.  The temple is about 5,600 years old.  The stones are made of globigerina limestone, the largest of which is about seven metres in height and no one knows how such massive rocks were moved at that time.  The temple’s facade is a typical Maltese megalithic temple with a big stone lying horizontally on top of two vertically arranged stones.  The interior which has six large chambers consists of doorways, altars, and a stone with swirling spiral decorations.  Two ‘fat lady’ statues were also found on the site however one can admire them only at the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta.  It is believed the temple was used for animal sacrifices and rituals, and in fact bones of several animals have been found in the area.  The temple together with the nearby Mnajdra Temple are being protected by means of protective tents as by time they have withstood the effect of varying weather conditions, flooding and attacks by vandals.  The walk between the Hagar Qim and Mnajdra temples is very scenic.  Hagar Qim is situated by the coast with open countryside all round.  Once here, one can also visit Blue Grotto which is in the nearby area.

 

Situated approximately 5 minutes walk from the Hagar Qim temples, the Mnajdra Megalithicmnajdra Temples are another UNESCO World heritage site on the islands.  Compared to Hagar Qim these temples are more resistant due to the fact that they are made of a harder limestone known as Coralline.  They consist of upper, middle and lower temples which do not have doorways leading to the other.  The upper is the oldest but the lowest temple is of most interest and represents one of the best examples of megalithic architecture in Malta and excellent workmanship.  The interior of the lowest temple is composed of a large forecourt, chambers, oracle holes and apse, a sacrificial altar and stone slabs decorated in spiral carvings and dotted patterns.   The temples date back to the Neolithic period and overlook the Mediterranean Sea and the small island of Filfla. 

 

ggantijaGgantija Temples in Gozo are older than the pyramids in Egypt.  These Neolithic, megalithic temples are considered to be the oldest freestanding structures of the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  They were used as a place of pilgrimage and apparently dedicated to a Goddess of Fertility suggested by the fact that a number of statues connected with fertility were found.  Animal bones were also found on the site which suggests that it was also used for animal’s sacrifices.  The temples are actually two temples built next to each other (North and South) and have five semi-circular apses with several altars.  The largest standing stone is six meters high.  The temples are well preserved.  Just wandering around the temples, it’s very easy to imagine how life has been here around 5,000 years ago.  These temples are much more complex than anything that was appearing in the world at that time.  On the road opposite the Ggantija temples, behind a large billboard, one may find some tombs cut into the rocks, apart from a prehistoric cave known as Ta’ Għejżu which cultivated pottery particles of the Ġgantija phase (circa 3500BC).


Once in Xaghra one may visit other spots of historical interest which are less known.  One of these is the Sta Verna Temple.  There are only a few megaliths here but horizontal blocks indicate that it may have been used as an altar while a hole with a depression in one of the blocks may have been used as a container for holy water.


Tarxien Temples are over 5,000 years old and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The Tarxien tarxien templestemples are smaller than the Hagar Qim temples.  The temples were discovered in 1914, one meter under earth.  They are divided into four different temples connected by a court and the most decorated amongst all temples in Malta.  Quite interesting is the sculpture inside the temples with depictions of domestic animals carved in relief, spiral designs and various other patterns.  One of the most interesting is a large relief of two bulls and a sow, which shows great artisanship.  Many discoveries found on the site, including fertility goddess figures, have been relocated and preserved at the Museum of Archaeology in Valletta.  Evidence suggests that the site like many others have been used for various rituals including animal sacrifices.  This temple has a unique feature compared to the others, in that its central temple has six apses.  Roller stones are also found on the site which gives an indication of how the bigger stones were moved.  Getting to these temples is quite easy also by public transport as it is close to several bus routes.  The Hypogeum is located within walking distance.