I’m guessing you’ve heard of the Egyptian Pyramids. And possibly even Stonehenge in England. But have you heard of the Hagar Qim or Mnajdra Megalithic temples located in Malta?
Small island home to Megalithic Temples
Malta is a picturesque Mediterranean island and located 80km off the South of Sicily. Despite how much I rave about “The Rock” (as it’s affectionately known) it is only 27 kilometres long and 14.5 kilometres wide. The island’s total area measures 246 km.sq.
What can I say? Size doesn’t matter.
Joking aside, this small island is home to eleven megalithic temples including Hagar Qim and Mnajdra Temples. Seven of which are listed on UNESCO world heritage site.
The megalithic temples are dated between 3600 and 3000BC
Described by UNESCO as the “oldest free standing monuments on earth” it’s astonishing the little attention they get in comparison to say The Pyramids. I heard very little of them.
Or more accurately: nothing.
At least, until the moment my partner suggested a trip to visit Maltas’ prehistoric temples dated between 3600 and 3000BC.
Hagar Qim and Mnajdra Archaeological Park
The temples are located on a hilltop one mile from Qrendi a small rural town in the South region of the island.
Hagar Qim and Mnajdra Archaeological Park overlooks the enigmatic islet Flifla. Entry is priced at 10 EUR and upon entry a short 4D introductory film is shown. It was my first time watching anything in 4D.
Featuring notes of wood and musk alongside a gentle hiss of water spray, the experience holds all your senses. I couldn’t help but think how this invention would dramatically improve general television. Imagine watching horror films in 4D or better yet… a cookery show such as Mary Berry or Masterchef? I digress! This was a great interactive way of learning about the site and the geology of the island
.The 4D experience
- Fun fact: Malta is literally a rock and is formed from sedimentary rocks. The five major geological strata are: Lower Coral limestone, Globigerina Limestone, Blue Clay, Green Sands and Upper Coralline Limestone
On exiting this rousing cinematic experience, the introduction to the temples was further solidified. Displays with further facts and information lined the corridor. And here I learnt the temples were partially buried and thus not discovered until 1839. The tallest upright sections of the temple stand at 5.2 metres. Although unknown at the time, these can be seen in a sketch drawn by Jean Hotel in 1787.
I was extremely impressed with the elliptical hole hewn into a megalith and aligned with the sunrise of the summer solstice
500 metres separates the two sites and after a scenic walk downhill we reached Mnajdra Temples. On arrival, it is immediately clear Mnajdra has been best preserved. Facing Filfla, the view from here feels more magical somehow. The tiny islet is said to have been instrumental in the placing of this prehistoric complex.
View of the enigmatic islet Filfla
Two stone calendars found at the site suggest a sacred meaning between the sun and Filfla. As a fan of astronomy I was extremely impressed with the elliptical hole hewn into a megalith and aligned with the sunrise of the summer solstice. I absolutely love summer and the idea to light up a chamber within the temples by the suns rays to mark the season’s first day is ground-breaking.
If you previously hadn’t heard of Hagar Qim and Mnajdra Temples. You have now 🙂
They’re the oldest free standing prehistoric temples on the planet.
Love and light,