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Your Guide to Malta and Gozo - Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra

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The Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra Archaeological Park

Ħaġar Qim Temples, Triq Ħaġar Qim,Qrendi QRD 2501, Tel: +356 21 424 231, www.heritagemalta.org

Winter Hours - 1th October till 31st ,March, Monday to Sunday: 9.00-17.00 (Last admission: 16.30)
Summer Hours - 1th April till 30th September, Monday to Sunday: 9.00-19.00 (Last admission: 18.30)
Closed: 24, 25 & 31 December, 1 January, Good Friday

Joint admission fees to Ħaġar Qim Temples and Mnajdra Temples: Regular adult ticket (18-59 years): €9.00
Subsidised Ticket: Ages12-17 years, senior citizens (60+ years), Students: €6.50; Children (6-11 years): €4.50
Children younger than 6 years of age may visit free of charge

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The majestic temples of Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra are located in the outskirts of the town of Qrendi. They were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1992, yet until comparitively recent years security in this location was less than adequate. The Mnjadra temples suffered a particularly hideous attack in 2001 in which vandals overturned a number of megaliths, causing untold damage to the millenia-old structures and striking a agonising blow to the epitome of Maltese Heritage. The situation improved dramatically in subsequent years as Heritage Malta took over the custodianship of the temples which were incorporated into the Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra Archaeological Park. The erection of protective tents above the temples in 2009 was a contoversial project as some objected on the grounds that the structures did not blend in well with the surroundings and damaged the ambiance of the sites themselves.

Following a mini-documentary condensing the temple period into a mere five minutes, you will be directed to the museum. A sequence of posters details the history of the excavations on the sites. Other exhibits include interactive models of the Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra temples that illustrate the position of the rising sun with respect to the temples at the equinoxes and the solstices; a reproduction of a doorway of a temple through which visitors may scramble; and artefacts and figurines unearthed at the sites, notably the figure of the headless fat lady.

 


 

Ħaġar Qim

Ħaġar Qim has been dated to the Ġgantija phase, between 3600 – 3200BC. Excavations were carried out under the supervision of J. G. Vance in 1838 following an initiative spearheaded by Governor Bouverie, whilst Lieutenant Vincent Foulis produced detailed drawings of the location. Further excavations were undertaken by A.A. Caruana in 1885 and by Sir Temistocles Zammit in 1909. Karl Mayrhofer speculates that drawings of several standing stones named Tadarnadur Irsira by Jean Houel, painter to the King of France in 1779 show Ħaġar Qim in a much more humble state than we know it and that the British administration secretly carried out extensive restoration and reconstruction prior to 1839. It is somewhat frustrating that many of the rooms in this temple have been cordoned off and may only be appreciated from a distance.

 

 

Mnajdra

The nearby temple complex of Mnajdra is a mere 500 meters away. This is comprised of a small north-eastern temple, believed to have been constructed in the Ġgantija phase. This is overshadowed by the splendour and superb state of preservation of the Southern Temple, from the Tarxien Phase; and that of the Middle temple, from the late Tarxien Phase. The temples are arranged around an approximately oval forecourt. The history of the site's excavation dates back to 1840 when Lenormant carried out some initial investigations, but it was not until 1872 that Fergusson provided a preliminary sketch of the temples. Ashby carried out further excavations at Mnajdra in 1910.

The façade of the southern temple is the best preserved. The door-way through which the inner apses communicate with the outer ones is elaborately decorated. Two large standing stones flanking it are similarly marked. Frank Ventura speculates that these notches tally a celestial phenomenon, such as the rising of a cluster of stars known as the Pleiades.

The middle temple stands on an artificial mound raised some two metres above ground-level and may require some agility to reach. It is a four-apsed construction, very similar to the north-eastern temple. The entrance to it is atypical as it is not a standard trilithon structure but a partly collapsed doorway through a large slab. Also on the same mound is the humble north-eastern temple, the structure of which is a modern reconstruction of doubtful accuracy.

 

 

 

 

HagarQim in a nutshell

  • Spectacular Temple Complex and UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Ħaġar Qim dates from the Ġgantija phase (3600-3000BC); Mnajdra was erected in the Tarxien phase (3150-2500BC)
  • Visit includes a 5D documentary, with special effects such as mist and scents from the past! Also includes an interactive exhibition.