Mnajdra is a megalithic temple complex on the coast of Mediterranean island, Malta. The temple is one of the most ancient religious sites on the planet and was described by the World Heritage Sites committee as unique masterpieces of architecture.
Malta was first inhabited around 5900 BC, but by 3850 BC, a second wave had arrived from Sicily who built the coralline limestone temples. The oldest Ggantija temple was constructed between 3600-3200 BC and the middle and lowest temples were built between 3150-2500 BC. However, shortly after this period in 2350 BC, the neolithic culture seemed to disappear. The next evidence of human activity was the Bronze Age.
The lower temple was built astronomically aligned and therefore likely used for astronomical observation. The use of the temples at Mnajdra as religious or ceremonial places have been determined through the on-site discoveries of animal bones, sacrificial flint, knives and rope holes, possibly used to hold sacrificial animals.
The Mnajdra temples were excavated under J. G. Vance in 1840 while Malta was part of the British Empire. In the early the 20th century, further excavations and improved plans of the temples were made, collecting archaeological materials. For example, in 1949, two small statues, two large bowls, some tools and a spherical stone, thought to be used to move larger temple stones, were discovered.
In 2001, Mnajdra was vandalised. Despite the damage being thought irreparable, the temples were restored using new techniques that hid the damage.
Currently built on an artificial platform, Mnajdra is currently under a protective shelter. The temples are available to visit all week and there is a dedicated visitor centre with an interactive and informative 4D film on arrival.
If visiting during the spring or autumnal equinoxes, watch sunlight passing through the main doorway of the lower temple. Also note the calendar stone, drilled with holes thought to be determined by the moon’s phases.
You will also find Mnajdra on your Maltese five, two and one cent euro coins.
After visiting the temples, take a moment to take in the beautiful landscape facing the Mediterranean and island of Filfla.
Getting to Mnajdra
To get to Mnajdra you must go through the Hagar Qim site, 500m away. By car, drive towards Zurrieq and Qrendi following the main roads. There is ample parking available adjacent to the visitor’s centre. By bus, travel to ‘Hagar’ Bus Stop (Direction to Valletta/Rabat) via routes 74 and 201, or by the Red South Route on the tourist bus.