Results 1-10of 12 Reviews
by Liam Hetherington
Manchester, United Kingdom
March 1, 2011
From journal The Limestone Walls of Malta
November 5, 2010
From journal Malta, a gem in the Mediterranean
November 4, 2010
December 1, 2005
From journal Malta - Paradise in the Mediterranean
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
November 6, 2005
From journal Malta Honeymoon
June 24, 2005
Though the ticket booth has no free pamphlets to describe the temple sites, they do offer for sale a small booklet, "The Copper Age Temples of Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra", with plans and illustrations by Professor Themistocles Zammit, one of the investigators of the site in the 1920s. In spite of some obvious inaccuracies I noted (for example, the temples lie on the south coast, not the west as the booklet states), the illustrations and information contained offer additional insight over what is found in the average guidebook.
The excavations at Ħaġar Qim were begun in the late 1830s, though the temple complex as seen today was not completely excavated until 1909-1910. At this time the surrounding area was explored as well, and the resulting finds of flint tools, stone and clay items and the like can be seen in the Valletta Museum. Further surveying and restoration took place: this was completed in the 1950s. Ħaġar Qim consists of three separate temples, the central being the best preserved of the three.
From Ħaġar Qim, follow the path about a quarter mile or so to Mnajdra, spectacularly set on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea. Mnajdra also consists of the temples, the oldest of which is on the right and is aligned with the small islet of Filfla. Excavations began here in 1840, though the findings were haphazardly recorded. One of the unusual aspects of the central temple is its entrance, which is through a large window stone.
Although the original purpose of the two temple sites has not been determined, it appears that they were used for animal sacrifices and ritual oracles.
The sites are open 7:45am to 2pm daily from mid-June to the end of September; from October through mid-June, they are open 8:15am to 5pm Monday-Saturday and 8:15am to 4pm on Sundays. Closed public holidays.
From journal Winter Holiday in Malta
Ayr, Scotland, United Kingdom
April 7, 2005
On a desolate spot, bleak, windswept and rocky, sits Hagar Qim on the west coast of Malta overlooking the island of Filfa - standing out gracefully about 4.8 kilometres away. Birdsong and the perfume of wildflowers permeate the air. Hagar Qim’s huge slabs display the giant hopes, ambitions, needs, fears, or religious beliefs that drove Neolithithe peoples to build it. Their task completed, they disappeared without trace.
Giant limestone slabs form a series of ovals laid out in a pattern that archaeologists have compared to Mother Goddess figurines found at Hagar Qim in 1839. These obese stone statuettes on display in Valletta Museum stood in the central court. Their heads changeable to fit the occasion have the features of reposing supernatural beings expecting devotion and worship. The central court also contained a stone altar with deep carving on each of the four sides representing plants, and a stone slab with spirals in relief. What could be idols, sacrificial altars and oracular chambers certainly makes it a temple of some kind.
Hagar Qim and the other Neolithic temples on Malta date from the Copper Age. Around then megalithics were appearing in various parts of the world. At the time society was changing to settled-farming and food supplies became more dependable on sunshine. Stonehenge in England through an alignment of stones showed when the winter solstice (not the summer solstice) had arrived and the sun would start rising again. Hagar Qim may have served the same purpose with the obese stone statuettes representing the sun and the changeable heads the seasons. A stone altar with deep carving of plants and a stone slab with spirals in relief possibly representing the sun or its phases together with carved animals adornments link the temple to agriculture – such is my theory!
The building methods are more easily understood. Flint or bone tools could prise up limestone stone flakes at the site of Hagar Qim. The builders after smoothing and squared the giant slabs laid them with consummate skill. The limestone slabs would have eroded badly had not a mound of earth, from which only the tops of the big stones protruded, protected them.
The Mnajdra temples are a few hundred meters closer to the Dingli Cliffs. Made up of two main temples they form the best-preserved temple site on Malta – but the sea is creeping closer! They sit on a heavy hard stone of bluish corcalline limestone - used partially for the construction. Softer larger slabs rubbed smooth and decorated originate from the near Hagar Qim site.
Some of the niches have decorations. Monolithic doors lead to the ‘oracle chambers’, and the columns of the doors of the central aisle support lintels of impressive dimensions. The main portal is nearly ten feet high.
You would think from inspecting these sites that giants walked the land and built the temples, but puny humans with ingenuity can achieve giant feats.
From journal Malta: History's Isle
June 5, 2004
The bus to Hagar Qim also stops at the Blue Grotto (see another entry), but my destination was the pair of temples, which are over 5,000 years old and which some say were for the worship of the Goddess.
I was hassled at the first one, Hagar Qim, the slightly more recent of the two, by an over-zealous 'guide'. He encouraged me to jump over the flimsy barriers in order to inspect the antiquities at first hand, and gave me gory, and probably untrue, stories about bowls for blood from sacrifices. So I beat a hasty retreat, and continued on foot to the second, older sight, Mnajdra.
The situation is beautiful, overlooking the sea. It's peaceful and atmospheric. The temples, of limestone, are well preserved considering their age. Mnajdra is aligned to the sunrises on the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes, when the sun strikes a certain stone -- a kind of ancient calendar.
The experience of being at these sights is in a way timeless. It's hard to walk back to the entrance gate and the present day reality of waiting for a bus back to Valletta.
From journal In Search of the Goddess
Oakhurst, New Jersey
April 16, 2002
From journal The Land That Time Forgot