Summer solstice at Mnajdra temple

Summer solstice at Mnajdra temple

If you happen to be in Malta at midsummer, do not miss to experience the Summer solstice at Mnajdra temple. This is an unforgettable and breath-taking experience and one wonders how in the temple period (4000b.c. – 2500b.c.) they managed to build such structures but also to make so precise alignments of the rising  sun on the 21st June. Through the main entrance of Mnajdra temple the rising sun illuminates in a cross-jamb view the edge of a vertical orthostat,  that seem to be part of an altar arrangement and may also have been part of what we in modern times would call, a calendar.

This altar arrangement is not only illuminated by the rising sun at the Summer solstice but also at winter solstice and equinox. Whether the prehistoric builders did construct the Mnajdra Temple with intention or it all happened by chance, we will of course never know as this happened long before any written language was introduced in Malta. However, with such precise alignment and orientation of the temple, one cannot exclude that the builders knew what they were doing and purposely built the temple as a device to keep track of time.

And why would they do that? That is of course the BIG question on which we will never have an answer. If we can play with the thought of something sacred as an altar and a timekeeper as a calendar, it may actually have been for knowing when to perform religious feasts and celebrations. In addition, it has also been suggested a priesthood or chiefdom class may have existed at that time and then they would know when to gather their congregation for ritual performances.

The Summer solstice is an event in time when we have the longest days and the shortest nights. The sun is as far north it can be on an apparent horizon and then starts to travel slowly but surely southwards. Also the days start to slowly become  shorter and the nights longer. Autumn and Winter are approaching.

If you want to experience the summer solstice at Mnajdra Temple please contact us.