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

Nicolas C (17 months ago)
Testimony of the rich history of the island of Malta. This prehistoric site, rich in mystery, is a must in this country. On the other hand, although it is very interesting, the place may not please everyone but more curious, lovers of history and especially those of prehistory.
Brian T (18 months ago)
Entry is via the Ġgantija Museum, not the directions mapped out by Google. The museum contains background information about the temple. Much more informative than the other temples in Malta. Temple is more protected than the other temples where you can walk around and touch the rocks.
Anthony Peter Swallow (18 months ago)
Excellent renovation and display of the famous stones. Great walkway takes you to and then round the ruins. There is a nice introduction centre at the start and then a gift shop at the end of the walk (200m from the entry). Bravo for the realisation of this project!
Viacheslav Shestopalov (18 months ago)
Atmospheric and mysterious place. Great infrastructure: the exhibition with unique prehistoric sculptures and some try-and-touch items, comprehensive intro materials, nice garden around the site. The temple itself is in good condition (of course, as for such an old structure), although supported by modern metal carcasses. All important nuances are marked on a scheme so that visitors know what to look at.
Josip Pešut (2 years ago)
Neolithic site with megalithic structures. It's outstanding something like this managed to survive 7000 years! UNESCO protects the site and has scaffolds around the walls to keep track of any stone movements. There's not much other content than the megalithic temple, but it's worth seeing!
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