About Ggantija Temples
The Ggantija Temples are a UNESCO-listed megalithic temple complex on the island of Gozo and the second oldest manmade structure in the world. Comprised of two well preserved stone temples enclosed by a wall, Ggantija in Maltese means ‘giantess’.
Ggantija Temples history
The Ggantija Temples were erected between 3600 – 2500 BC during the Neolithic era. Malta had been inhabited since 5900 BC, but by the time the temples were erected the inhabitants of the island were farming and domesticating animals.
The temples included design elements of a ceremonial site for fertility rituals; both for people and the natural world. Gozitan folklore told the story of a giantess or Ggantija who ate nothing but broad beans and honey. She gave birth to a human child, and with the child over her shoulder, built the temples as a place of worship.
Ggantija Temples were built on the edge of the Xaghra plateau facing the south-east, encompassing two temples and an incomplete third, partially built before it was abandoned.
The temples were built without use of the wheel or metal tools – an incredible feat of construction. Instead, ball bearings were used for the vehicles transporting the enormous stones used for the temples. At the entrance, the builders placed a large stone block with a dip in it, believed to be a ritual ablution or cleansing point before worshippers entered.
Islanders were long aware of the temples, and it was based on this local knowledge that excavator Jean-Pierre Houël drew up plans in the 18th century. After excavations in 1827, the ruins fell into decay as the land was held privately until 1933 when the Government acquired it. Following this, the Museums Department did archaeological work on the site until the late 1950s clearing, preserving and researching the temples.
Ggantija Temples today
Restored in the late 2000s, visitors can now spend a couple of hours walking around the remarkable preserved temples on an accessible and lightweight walkway built in 2011 to protect the floor.
There is also a small visitor’s centre that explains what you are about to see, and there is a small gift shop if you want to take home a reminder of your visit. Afterwards, head down to nearby Ramla Bay beach to enjoy the Neolithic coastline of the island.
Getting to Ggantija Temples
The easiest way to reach the temples is to get a 10 minute bus direct from the Victoria Bus Terminal. The entrance for those driving is on John Otto Bayer street, and there is parking on site.