Malta – Southern Region – Ħaġar Qim Temples

Ħaġar Qim Temples date to around 3,500BC and are another in the series of neolithic temples across Malta which still hold many mysteries. They were mostly buried naturally over time, although some stones remained visible, until an archaeological dig which took place in 1839. Inevitably, given the age, this has now become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This site is linked to another nearby historic site, the Mnajdra Temples, and they share a museum which I’ll post about separately. The museum is something a little different and some thought has been put into creating an environment which is relevant for visitors of all ages.

The entrance into the site. Unfortunately I went around the site in the wrong order and so I didn’t get an audio guide, which meant that I didn’t have a clue what I was looking at for much of the time. I didn’t get a map either as are offered at most other Heritage Malta sites. But, if I had gone the correct way round, I would have had these….

One of the porthole doorways, all made from one large piece of stone. It is known that these temples weren’t used for burials of humans, although animal bone sacrifices have been found, and it’s also known that circular stones were used to transport the larger stones around.

In the museum there is a photograph showing how well preserved these stones were in the nineteenth century, and how they deteriorated after they had been exposed. Unfortunately that means that these have been restored, which does limit my enthusiasm just a little.  Nearly all of the site is though original, it’s just that some clumsy restoration work in the early twentieth century made things a little worse than need be when cement was used….

The obese figures, although not much of them remain. Although I might not really understand these sites in minute detail, I do like the thought that they were an essential part of the communities several thousand years ago. I can also see how they were abandoned, the site ceases to have much of a function as soon as the religious significance is lost, other than using them for animals to shelter in.

And one of the guards inside the museum. It’s a clever place to sit, as it’s warm, covered and the cat can watch people all day knowing that no-one is allowed near it.

Anyway, a quick trip to TripAdvisor to pick my favourite review for this UNESCO World Heritage site, which is over 5,000 years old.

“It is a pile of rocks under a large tent. After about 3 minutes and very little to look at – the €20 euros you and your wife/friend/partner spent would have tasted better at lunch.”

Marvellous. Although incidentally the vast majority of TripAdvisor reviews are, quite deservedly, very positive. Most of the stones of particular interest were sent to the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta, although I saw these on my first day in Malta and so didn’t really understand the significance of them at the time.