The Temples are one of Malta’s best preserved prehistoric temples and is considered as one of the oldest free standing monuments in the world preceding Stonehenge and the Egyptian Pyramids!
If you are a fan of historical sites, then one that should definitely be on the list is the Ġgantija Temples. Based in the beautiful island of Gozo, at this site you will find two temples which form a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Built long before Stonehenge appeared, it is thought that these temples were created between 3600 and 3200 BC, however during 2500 BC they were disused and it wasn’t until the 19th Century that they made a reappearance and were discovered as a part of the heritage of the island. Want to know more about these temples? Why not take a look at our guide?
Why named Ġgantija?
The name of the temples stems from the word ġgant, which is Maltese for giant. The reason for this is because the people of the island once believe that the temples were built by a race of giants. Those people who visit the temples can probably see where this name comes from. The blocks that have been used to create the temples are pretty impressive in their size, in fact, some of them are bigger than 5 metres in length and weigh as much as 50 tonnes.
Every part of the temple is made from limestone. The outer walls are built from incredibly hard wearing coralline limestone, which is one of the reasons why they appear to have stood the test of time for so long. The interior of the temple is then made from Globigerina limestone which is known to be softer and smoother too. This variety of limestone appears in the doorways, altars and decorative slabs. There is also evidence that the internal walls of the temple were then plastered and painted, as two fragments have been found which are marked with red ochre and have been preserved in a museum.
What may have happened at the temple?
Of course, we will never know what exactly happened at the temple during the time it was used, that is the nature of history, however, we do have some ideas of the types of things that those worshipping there may have got up to.
There is a large terrace space at the front, which is likely to have been the location for gatherings. Also, small animal bone remains have been found along with stone hearths that could have come together to show some form of animal sacrifice or rituals. Along with this there are also libation holes in the floor, which is thought to have meant that there could have been liquid offerings there too.
Whilst you can read plenty about these amazing temples, the only way to really take in their amazing history and culture, is to visit them. So, why not plan in some time to travel over to Gozo from Malta and spend some time exploring these temples and making sure that you understand more about the rich history that surrounds them.
Even better than that, why not take the time to find out more about the rest of Gozo too, after all, this fascinating island isn’t short of amazing things to see and do, which is why it is so popular for tourists and locals alike.