Ggantija temples

Ggantija temples

Are situated in the village of Xghara, Gozo, Ggantija temples are listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site and dates back to 3600b.c. Ggantija temples are one of the earliest temples that were built in Malta during the Temple period (3600b.c – 2500b.c). They consist of two temples enclosed by a surrounding wall.

Ggantija temples were built with coralline limestone, a hard local stone widely available on the island. The globigerina limestone, a softer stone, was mostly used for internal furnishing.

The name Ggantija derives from the Maltese word ‘Ggant’, which means giant. Gian Frangisk Abela, a Maltese historian, in 1647 mentions Ggantija temples in his book ‘La Descrizione di Malta’ as a ‘Site which was definitely built by giants’. Today, whilst approaching the temple one would immediately realise about the size and weight of the slabs, which were used to built the surrounding wall. Some of these slabs weigh close to 50 tonnes.

Ggantija temple follows the same architectural features of the other temples, a main entrance, a central corridor that crosses through apse shaped rooms. The interior of this temple was plastered with clay and decorated in red ochre. During excavations, various remains were excavated,like animal remains and of particular interest two heads of statuettes, commonly known as the Fat Ladies of Malta.

The first temple consists of five apses, with the innermost apses at a higher level from the main entrance, whilst the second temple consists of four main apses with one small at the far end. Both temples were roofed and built higher than their present state.

Visiting Ggantija temple is through a new visitors centre with various original remains exhibited and visuals. A section is dedicated to the ‘Xaghra stone circle’, an underground burial site situated 300 meters away from Ggantija temple, excavated during the temple period. Various archaeological remains were unearthed like the ‘Twin seated figure’ and the ‘Stone figurines’

Ggantija temple is situated ten minutes drive from Mgarr harbour, the citadel and very close to Calypso cave.