Uncovering Malta’s Megalithic Temples (including map)
Apart from the Knights of St. John, Malta is synonymous with one other very important period in human history: the Neolithic period. The temples scattered around the Maltese islands are unique and some are considered to be the oldest freestanding structures in the world.
The Ġgantija and Skorba temples for example, are over a 1,000 years older than Stonehenge or the pyramids of Giza in Egypt. A great number of these prehistoric sites are listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.
I have selected a handful of sites that are available for visits. Take a closer look at what each site has to offer and what makes each one so unique:
The above are only a fraction of the Megalithic heritage of the Maltese islands. There are many more sites that are either too small or not yet open to the public such as the Tas-Silġ complex and Kordin temples in Malta and Ta’ Marżiena, Borġ l-Imramma, Xagħra Stone Circle and Santa Verna temple in Gozo.
Why should you visit these Megalithic remnants?
The main experience I get when I visit these sacred places is a spiritual one. I feel I can connect to these structures, many of which are set in amazing locations, such as Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra on the Southern coast overlooking the tiny islet of Filfla.
These sites also give us a lot of insight on populations that lived within these tiny islands nearly 6,000 years ago, about their beliefs, their burial rituals and sacrifices they made to nameless deities. They also raise a million questions about those same ancient inhabitants, and you feel the pull to delve deeper into the mystery that shrouds these sites.
And for those still curious about Malta’s Megalithic past, one should definitely plan a trip to the National Museum of Archeology in Valletta where a number of very important items found at the prehistoric sites during excavations are on display.
How to visit the Temples
Although you can easily reach the individual temples by bus or by car, you can also take a tour that takes you to some of the bigger temples and include transport to/from your place of stay.
This half-day Malta Prehistoric Temple Tour takes you to:
- Ħaġar Qim Temples
- Mnajdra Temples
- Għar Dalam Cave
How were the temples built?
A topic that has caused much debate and created also a lot of theories is definitely how our prehistoric ancestors managed to build such amazing and complex structures without the aid of any technology. Some stone blocks are reputed to weigh over 20 tonnes, there are temples perfectly aligned with the rising of the sun on specific days of the year, others that are aligned with constellations barely visible to the naked eye.
So how did they do it?
Archeologists have racked their brains to discover how the stones were moved and erected, scientists have tried reconstructing the temples using modern computer technologies. Yet a lot of mystery still surrounds these ancient structures.
What we know for sure is that the temple builders were a patient bunch and didn’t shy away from massive tasks. Considering that what they constructed has stood the test of time, it’s safe to say they were masters in their craft.
The Malta Atlantis Theory
The large concentration of megalithic temples, mysterious remains and peculiar artefacts found around the Maltese archipelago has given rise to many theories about the temple builders. Could Malta have been the elusive Atlantis in Plato’s writings? A study conducted by Anton Mifsud in his book Malta: Echoes Of Plato’s Island surely supports this theory as does a 2002 book by Francis Galea called ‘Malta Fdal Atlantis’ (Malta remains of Atlantis).
A number of important documentaries that investigate this theory have been filmed in Malta in recent years by National Geographic, Discovery Channel and other important companies.
Important findings, such as the elongated skulls excavated from the Hypogeum of Ħal Saflieni indicate how the ancient temple builders had very different features and characteristics than other populations that inhabited the Mediterranean coasts in that era. Their knowledge of astronomy and construction still baffles scientists. It is also generally agreed that at some point in time, the temple builders vanished completely from these islands, abandoning their beloved temples and dwellings.
Why did they leave? What happened to them? Where did they go?
Why don’t you put on your Indiana Jones hat and try your hand at making the connection?
Where are the Megalithic Temples of Malta located?
Take a look at the map to find out where each temple is located:
Sneak Peek videos of Malta’s temples
Perhaps, if you’re still thinking whether to visit these incredible monuments from a distant past, you should take a peek at the following videos that show a bit what to expect.