Visiting the Ħaġar Qim megalithic temples at Dingli (Malta)
Possibly the most popular prehistoric temple in Malta, Ħaġar Qim is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is built on a hilltop near Qrendi, a village on the Southern coast of Malta. On the other side of the hill, lie the impressive temples of Mnajdra. A popular theory suggests that the village, originally known as Krendi, got its name from the large megaliths of Ħaġar Qim (Grandi in Italian means large).
More info about similar sites in Malta: Uncovering Malta’s Megalithic Temples (including map)
The temple’s structure
The Ħaġar Qim temples are beautiful, a masterpiece of prehistoric masonry, and considering they were built between 3600 and 3200 BC, still very well preserved. They were excavated in 1839 but old documents and paintings before that date confirm that people knew of its existence.
The main Ħaġar Qim structure consists of 5 rooms or apses with a corridor down the middle. A bird’s eye view would show the clear resemblance to a woman’s body, including hips, chest and head. This layout and other artefacts found on site, such as small clay figurines, suggest that the structures were most probably shrines erected to worship mother earth and the fertility cycles. A 5.2-metre high monolith on the outside of the temple could resemble the male. During sunrise on Summer Solstice, the rays of a sun penetrate the temple through a hole to illuminate a particular stone slab–yet another reference to the fertility theory.
The temple builders used hard coralline limestone to erect the external walls and softer globigerina limestone for the interiors. The softer stone was also carved with intricate decorations, some still very visible. One of the megaliths is estimated to weigh close to 20 tonnes, raising important questions to what techniques were used by the builders. Several sphere-shaped stones found at different temple sites suggest that the temple builders used these spheres to transport the huge megaliths in place.
Apart from the main temple, archaeologists found also the remains of two more structures, thought to be even older.
Of the amazing finds at Ħaġar Qim, two are greatly popular: a slab with a pair of opposing spirals in relief and a three-foot high stone pillar decorated on all four sides. Replicas can be seen on site while the originals are at the National Museum of Archaeology.
You can easily combine a visit to Ħaġar Qim with the Mnajdra temples due to their close proximity. The entrance ticket fee covers a visit to both sites as well as the visitors’ centre.
Why you should visit Ħaġar Qim
- Ħaġar Qim is possibly the most perfectly preserved of all the prehistoric temples in Malta, a masterpiece of stone masonry from a forgotten age.
- A visitor centre provides rich information on the site of the temples and their significance.
- If you’ve visited and enjoyed the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta, this is probably the best choice to visit one of the megalithic temples. (Items retrieved from this site are on display in the museum while replicas were put in their original places).
- If you visit Ħaġar Qim at sunrise on the first day of summer you will enjoy a unique experience when you see the sun’s rays pass through a particular hole and illuminate a stone slab inside the chamber.
- Ħaġar Qim was erected in one of the nicest areas on the islands, surrounded by typical Maltese countryside and overlooking the gorgeous islet of Filfla.
How to get there
To get to Ħaġar Qim temples by bus you can take bus number 74 from Valletta. The trip takes about 1 hr.
If you’re driving there, just follow the map to Żurrieq, then keep driving on the outskirts of the village following the coastal road that leads to Siġġiewi. There are plenty of road signs along the way.
You can also take this half-day Temples tour that includes visits to the Mnajdra temples and the Għar Dalam cave, which includes pickup/return from your place of stay.
- 1st April till 30th September
- Monday to Sunday: 09.00-18.00hrs
- Last admission at 17.30hrs
- 1st October till 31st March
- Monday to Sunday: 09.00 – 17.00hrs
- Last admission at 16.30hrs
Closed on 24, 25 & 31 December, 1 January & Good Friday
Triq Ħaġar Qim,
Qrendi QRD 2501
Tel: +356 21 424 231
- Adults (18 – 59 years): €10.00
- Youths (12 – 17 years), Senior Citizens (60 years & over), and Students: €7.50
- Children (6 – 11 years): €5.50
- Infants (1 – 5 years): Free
Fees include admission to Ħaġar Qim Park (Ħaġar Qim Temples, Mnajdra Temples, and the Visitor Centre).