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

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Gimbal Jeremy (2 months ago)
The ticket allows access to this site (Mnajdra) in addition to that of Hagar Kim. Ticket can be purchased at the visitor center on site or otherwise on the Heritage of Malta website. A cultural and historical place in Malta.
Phil Barton (3 months ago)
Really fascinating visit that gets you to question your preconceptions on human development. These temples predate Stonehenge by 1000 years. The principles are the same only more sophisticated. They are a similar date to the early pyramids. Getting your head round this is to relearn history as you thought you knew it.
Adrian Pecirep (4 months ago)
Paired up with the Ħaġar Qim site, this temple add nicely to the experience of revisiting Malta's past. It's in the same area as Ħaġar Qim and it's included in the ticket. Just like it's neighboring site it has a construction protecting not only the site from sunlight but also its visitors. Definitely check it out!
Miles Winslow (9 months ago)
I like history, so this was right up my alley. Malta ?? has so much history, and you should all get here once in your life, if you like history. Bring the kids...
i pm (16 months ago)
I could only repeat whatever I said @ Ħaġar Qim: the place is beyond imaginations. I'd give 10+*s if I could. Even if you're not an archeology buff you'd really enjoy it. Don't forget the audio guide, which BTW excellent, step back in time and allow your imagination soar. Most of the remains have been preserved very well, the info system is very good. Take your time, enjoy.
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