Tarxien Temples

Tarxien, Malta

The Tarxien Temples are an archaeological complex dating to approximately 3150 BC. The site was accepted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980 along with the other Megalithic temples on the island of Malta.

The Tarxien consist of three separate, but attached, temple structures. The main entrance is a reconstruction dating from 1956, when the whole site was restored. At the same time, many of the decorated slabs discovered on site were relocated indoors for protection at the Museum of Archaeology in Valletta. The first temple has been dated to approximately 3100 BC and is the most elaborately decorated of the temples of Malta. The middle temple dates to about 3000 BC, and is unique in that, unlike the rest of the Maltese temples, it has three pairs of apses instead of the usual two. The east temple is dated at around 3100 BC. The remains of another temple, smaller, and older, having been dated to 3250 BC, are visible further towards the east.

Of particular interest at the temple site is the rich and intricate stonework, which includes depictions of domestic animals carved in relief, altars, and screens decorated with spiral designs and other patterns. Demonstrative of the skill of the builders is a chamber set into the thickness of the wall between the South and Central temples and containing a relief showing a bull and a sow.

Excavation of the site reveals that it was used extensively for rituals, which probably involved animal sacrifice. Especially interesting is that Tarxien provides rare insight into how the megaliths were constructed: stone rollers were left outside the South temple. Additionally, evidence of cremation has been found at the center of the South temple, which is an indicator that the site was reused as a Bronze Age cremation cemetery.

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Founded: 3150-3000 BC
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Malta


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User Reviews

Edson Bittencourt Imperico (7 months ago)
The most impressive megalithic temple dating from over 3000 years BC on the main island in Malta. Not far from Valletta. The buses are very reliable and you can get there easily. One wonders how they would have been able those massive stones over 5000 years ago.
Matthew Larson (9 months ago)
Interesting spot for viewing a real ancient temple. You can walk in and around the various parts of the temple. See this with the Hypogeum nearby for an amazing view into Neolithic cultures on Malta.
Simon Unwin (9 months ago)
Temples are good to visit especially if you have been to Archeology Museum in Valletta. They have a good app you can download to tell you what you can see as you move round the temples.
Ellie Davey (11 months ago)
Fascinating place- the paths that go between stones mean you can look through the archways and see some of what the early peoples might have seen. The tickets are a little pricy, but the site clearly needs a lot of maintenance and I’m happy to pay for preservation of places like this. Plus there are temple cats lounging around on the hot stones.
Michelle Massaro (11 months ago)
A really unique ancient site that is worth the visit! You can see the full layout and design of how it would have looked in it's entirely very clearly. Love the effort to preserve it - the overhead shelter is a cool piece of engineering in itself! Took about 45 minutes to walk/explore it and read the explanation guide signage posted throughout. Easy bus ride to access with multiple bus options to access it from Valletta.
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