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Your Guide to Malta and Gozo - Ġgantija Temples

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Il-Ġgantija

 

Temples Street (Triq l-Imqades), Xagħra XRA 2161; tel: (+356) 21 553 194; http://www.heritagemalta.org

 

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 Monday to Sunday: 9.00-17.00, last admission: 16.30; closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day and Good Friday.

Combined admission fees to Ta' Kola Windmill and Ġgantija Temples are as follows: Regular ticket (18 - 59 years): €5; subsidised ticket: 12-17 years, senior citizens (60+), students: 3.50; children (6 -11 years): €2,50; children younger than 6 years of age may visit at no charge.

 

These temples were unearthed in 1827 by Colonel John Otto Bayer and have been on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1980.

The visitor is immediately awed by the sheer size of the boulders used to construct these temples. One can only speculate what techniques these prehistoric engineers must have employed in order to hew and transport these massive chunks of rock. According to one Gozitan legend, the temples were constructed by Sansuna – a female member of a race of giants that inhabited Gozo in prehistoric times. Indeed, the very name Ġgantija is a derivative of the Maltese word ġgant – meaning “giant”.

Ġgantija is in fact a complex consisting of two temples with a common boundary wall. An outer wall engirdles the two temples. The southern temple, sometimes referred to as Ġgantija I is the older of the two. The façade is monumental, towering at a height of 7 metres. It consists of a central corridor with a main apse at its far end, and two pairs of lateral apses. On close inspection of the stones in the first apse on the right, you may observe faint spiral motifs. The northern temple has a similar layout but lacks the central apse which is replaced with a niche.

The walls of the temples lean towards the inside. It is speculated that the temples may have been roofed over, perhaps with timber.

Animal remains have been discovered in the temple complex so it appears likely that rituals involving animal sacrifice used to be performed here.