Xaghra , Gozo, Malta
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 9:00 - 17:00
- Adults: € 5.00
- Youth: € 3.50
- Children: € 2.50
Ġgantija Temples are a set of prehistoric temples, the oldest stone structure in the world. They pre-date Stonehenge (UK) and the Great Pyramids of Egypt by hundreds of years as they were built in the Neolithic age. The name Ġgantija comes from the Maltese word 'Ġgant' meaning giant, and most likely took this name due to the giant megalithic rocks which give the impression that these temples were indeed built by pre-historic giants.
The two temples of Ġgantija are estimated to be 5,800 years old ( built between 3,600 - 3000). The Ġgantija Temples were dedicated to the Great Earth Mother, a goddess of fertility which is also referred to as the "fat lady". The Ġjantija temples are the most complete shrine complexes on Malta, made up of two temples covering a total of 10,000 square feet. The temples are surrounded by a common wall, which reaches up to 17 feet, and they also share a forecourt.
The southern temple is the largest and oldest of the two, and dates back to around 3,600 BC. The temple incorporates five apses, in the shape of a clover leaf with a passage way in between the apses. The apses are believed to have been originally covered by roofing which however has since eroded. Each of the apses contains altars; and finding of animal bones in the site suggest that they could be have been used for animal sacrifice.
During the era in which the Ġgantija Temples and other Megalithic temples were built, there were no metal tools available to the native Maltese at the time, and the wheel had not yet been introduced either. This made the task and the structures themselves far more impressive. Spherical stones were found close to the temples, which were most likely used as ball-bearings to aid the transportation of the massive stones.
The Ġgantija Temples, first excavated in 1827 (though locals knew about the temples before that) was the first of the Megalithic Temples of Malta to make into the UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1980. The listing was later altered to include the other megalithic temples found in the Maltese Islands. The Ġgantija temples are by far the most popular megalithic temple across the Maltese Islands.