Ggantija

Gozo, Malta

Ġgantija is a Neolithic, megalithic temple complex on the Mediterranean island of Gozo. The Ġgantija temples are the earliest of a series of megalithic temples in Malta (older than the pyramids of Egypt). Their makers erected the two Ġgantija temples during the Neolithic Age (c. 3600–2500 BC), which makes these temples more than 5500 years old and the world"s second oldest manmade religious structures, after Göbekli Tepe in Turkey. Together with other similar structures, these have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Megalithic Temples of Malta.

The temples were possibly the site of a Fertility cult; archeologists believe that the numerous figurines and statues found on site are connected with that cult. According to local Gozitan folklore, a giantess who ate nothing but broad beans and honey bore a child from a man of the common people. With the child hanging from her shoulder, built these temples and used them as places of worship.

This megalithic monument is in fact two temples, built side by side and enclosed within a boundary wall. The southerly one is the larger and older, dating back to approximately 3600 BC. It is also better preserved. The plan of the temple incorporates five large apses, with traces of the plaster that once covered the irregular wall still clinging between the blocks.

The temples are built in the typical clover-leaf shape, with inner facing blocks marking the shape which was then filled in with rubble. This led to the construction of a series of semi-circular apses connected with a central passage. Archaeologists believe that the apses were originally covered by roofing. The structures are all the more impressive for having been constructed at a time when no metal tools were available to the natives of the Maltese Islands, and when the wheel had not yet been introduced. Small, spherical stones have been discovered. They are believed to have been used as ball bearings to transport the enormous stone blocks required for the temples" construction.

The temple, like other megalithic sites in Malta, faces southeast. The southern temple rises to a height of six metres. At the entrance sits a large stone block with a recess, which led to the hypothesis that this was a ritual ablution station for purification before entering the complex. The five apses contain various altars; the finding of animal bones in the site suggests the site was used for animal sacrifice.

After the excavations in 1827, the ruins fell into decay. The land was held privately until 1933, when the Government expropriated it for public benefit. The Museums Department conducted extensive archaeological work in 1933, 1936, 1949, 1956–57 and 1958–59. Its goal was to clear, preserve and research the ruins and their surroundings.

The temple and the surrounding areas were restored or rehabilitated in the 2000s. Lightweight walkways were installed in the temple in 2011, while a heritage park was opened in 2013.

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Address

Triq It Tafla, Gozo, Malta
See all sites in Gozo

Details

Founded: 3600-2500 BC
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Malta

Rating

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Jana Skotalova (34 days ago)
Great place with very well done museum which easily explains how people lived, what illnesses and injuries they had based on bones deformations, even what haircuts were trending. Beautiful also to walk outside around temple with lots of explanation signs.
Robert Mc (3 months ago)
Very interesting and historically significant place. This attraction is in 2 parts, as you enter you find a museum with relics and information about the temple throughout history and the people who inhabited it. After you have been through a number of museum rooms you head outside and around the natural gardens until you find the monumental temples overlooking from the hillside. You can walk around both temples reading the information on the boards. A really nice day out. Entry is €10 and also gives entry to the historic windmill which is 2 minutes walk away.
Star Waspi (3 months ago)
This Archaeological site is accessible through visiting the Musem. We've visited it as a group by paying €10 per person (Adult). It's amazing to know that they are able to maintain this structure.
AA (5 months ago)
The site was a bit small and the stones were not preserved as nicely as I thought. Also since I’ve been to some other temple sites before, this was kind of similar to all the others (Ofc each site themselves are very different). But since I need to go all the way to Gozo for this I had higher expectations. Still it was interesting visit and I had a nice time.
Gabi Gik (5 months ago)
Very beautiful location with such interesting history. Of course the site speaks for itself. The interpretation centre was informative, there was also a kids playroom, good and accessible bathrooms. The giftshop contained all the same souvenirs as the other Heritage Malta sites. Recommend visiting, a gorgeous place!
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