Ggantija Temples: Malta's Megalithic Temple
Did you know that in Gozo there is one of the oldest religious structures in the world? We visit Malta’s most popular tourist attraction, the Ggantija Temples.
Megalithic are monuments made of several large stones. There is one such temple in Gozo that dates back to the Neolithic Age. When you find the museum and enter the lobby, your ticket is issued and you walk through a narrow corridor and enter a building that has become the temple’s museum. This is an archaeological museum where the remains and finds from the temple and its surroundings are exhibited.
The first hall is how the Ggantija Temples were built. There are, of course, ideas about how the locals moved such heavy and large stones. The most common idea is that they put small and round stones underneath the big stones and slid them. You can also see these circular stones in the museum.
The findings at the excavation site prove the existence of burial ceremonies and religious rites. While some skeletons were found intact and untouched, later, during the temple period, some skeletons were buried in special sections with their skulls and long bones separated from the body. This suggests that living people organized a second burial ceremony for their deceased relatives some time after their death and made these changes. This is evidence of cremations carried out elsewhere during the Bronze Age and points to the diversity of death rites practiced in prehistoric Malta.
You can also see small statues of people and animals made of limestone by the locals. They are very minimally designed. The female figures sitting with a human head placed on the head of a slug-like figure are worth seeing.
There is also some information about the diet of the locals for their survival. Especially in a small cupboard, the food of the locals is collected and presented very well.
Then we leave the museum and head towards the Ggantija Temples, one of the most important archaeological structures in Malta. Built between 3600-2500 BC, the Ggantija Temple is the first chronologically among the Megalithic Temples in Malta and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a complex of buildings much older than Stonehenge in England and the pyramids in Egypt. Before visiting the temples, be sure to take a look at the photos taken from above or the drawings seen from above.
Ggantija means Giant’s Tower in Turkish. According to local belief, Ggantija (Giant) was built by a female giant. Its original purpose was for the locals to worship it with the intention of increasing productivity. However, as with many megalithic temples, it is surprising that these stones, weighing tons, were brought by ancient people from many kilometers away.
When you visit the Ggantija Temples, you will see that there are actually two temples, separated by a wall. The southern temple, which dates back to 3600 BC, is larger and older, but better preserved than the other. The southern temple has 5 large half domes inside. This is how you can distinguish it. The temple is in a very good condition, although it has suffered some destruction as a result of earthquakes and wars over the centuries. It is thought that the wall heights reached 16 meters when it was built.
You can reach this area by bus 307, which leaves once an hour from Victoria, the center of the island of Gozo.