Mnajdra Temple

Qrendi, Malta

Mnajdra is a megalithic temple complex built around the fourth millennium BCE; the Megalithic Temples of Malta are among the most ancient religious sites on Earth. In 1992 UNESCO recognized the Mnajdra complex and four other Maltese megalithic structures as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In 2009 work was completed on a protective tent.

Mnajdra is made of coralline limestone, which is much harder than the soft globigerina limestone of Ħaġar Qim. The main structural systems used in the temples are corbelling with smaller stones, and post-and-lintel construction using large slabs of limestone.

The cloverleaf plan of Mnajdra appears more regular than that of Ħagar Qim, and seems reminiscent of the earlier complex at Ggantija. The prehistoric structure consists of three conjoined but not connected temples: the upper, middle and lower.

The upper temple is the oldest structure in the Mnajdra complex and dates to the Ggantija phase (3600-3200 BC). It is a three-apsed building, the doorway of which is formed by a hole cut into a large piece of limestone set upright, a type of construction typical of other megalithic doorways in Malta. This temple appears originally to have had a vaulted ceiling, but only the base of the ceiling now remain on top of the walls. The pillar-stones were decorated with pitmarks drilled in horizontal rows on the inner surface.

The middle temple was built in the late Tarxien phase (3150 – 2500 BC) and, in fact, is the most recent structure. It is formed of slabs topped by horizontal courses.

The lowest temple, built in the early Tarxien phase, is the most impressive and possibly the best example of Maltese megalithic architecture. It has a large forecourt containing stone benches, an entrance passage covered by horizontal slabs, one of which has survived, and the remains of a possibly domed roof. The temple is decorated with spiral carvings and indentations, and pierced by windows, some into smaller rooms and one onto an arrangement of stones.

The lowest temple is astronomically aligned and thus was probably used as an astronomical observation and/or calendrical site. On the vernal and the autumnal equinox sunlight passes through the main doorway and lights up the major axis. On the solstices sunlight illuminates the edges of megaliths to the left and right of this doorway.

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Qrendi, Malta
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Details

Founded: 3600-3200 BC
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Malta

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Jim Low (8 months ago)
Great to see such history and experience it without large crowds
Felipe Borges (9 months ago)
10e that you throw in the trash. 10 minutes that you never get back. I strongly advise you to just walk around, the nature around is much better that the overpriced small construction that looks like a normal build in Malta
Maria Cassar (9 months ago)
Unique world heritage. One can appreciate the strength and intelligence of our ancestors. It is amazing. Moreover the views are extremely beautiful and it is a very peaceful place.
Jơana dơѕ Sanтơѕ (12 months ago)
If you looking for the ancient roots, archeological milestone and history, this set of temples are the one to visit. Spend time around, the views are outstanding too!
Miguel Abreu (13 months ago)
Not worth the 10€
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