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Ġgantija Temples - Megalithic Temples of Malta

Xagħra, Gozo, Malta

Ġgantija-Tempel is a prehistoric archaeological site located in Xagħra, a small village on the island of Gozo in Malta. Dating back to approximately 3600-3200 BC, it is considered to be one of the oldest free-standing structures in the world, even older than the Egyptian pyramids. The name Ġgantija-Tempel translates to "Giant's Tower" in Maltese, which is fitting as the massive stone structures are believed to have been built by giants according to local legend.

The site consists of two adjacent temples, known as the North and South Temple, which are believed to have been used for religious rituals and ceremonies. The temples were constructed using megalithic stones, some of which weigh over 50 tons, making it a remarkable feat of engineering for its time. The sheer size and weight of these stones, as well as the precision in their placement, have led to many theories and speculations about how they were moved and placed by the ancient inhabitants of the island.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Ġgantija-Tempel is its intricate design and sophisticated architectural features. The temples have a unique cloverleaf shape, with three apses connected by a central corridor. The walls of the temples are adorned with intricate carvings and decorations, depicting animals, plants, and geometric patterns. These carvings are believed to have held symbolic and religious significance to the people who built and used the temples.

Visitors to Ġgantija-Tempel can explore the site and learn about its history through informational panels and interactive displays. The visitor's center also houses a collection of artifacts found at the site, providing insight into the daily lives and beliefs of the temple's builders. The site is also surrounded by a beautiful landscaped garden, adding to the serene and mystical atmosphere of the ancient temples.

Ġgantija-Tempel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-visit destination for anyone interested in archaeology, history, and ancient civilizations. It offers a unique opportunity to step back in time and marvel at the ingenuity and skill of our ancestors. A visit to Ġgantija-Tempel is not only a journey through the past but also a chance to appreciate the rich cultural heritage of the Maltese islands.

Seven megalithic temples are found on the islands of Malta and Gozo, each the result of an individual development. The two temples of Ggantija on the island of Gozo are notable for their gigantic Bronze Age structures. On the island of Malta, the temples of Hagar Qim, Mnajdra and Tarxien are unique architectural masterpieces, given the limited resources available to their builders. The Ta'Hagrat and Skorba complexes show how the tradition of temple-building was handed down in Malta.

Ġgantija (Maltese pronunciation: [dʒɡanˈtiːja], "place of giants") is a megalithic temple complex from the Neolithic era (c. 3600–2500 BC), on the Mediterranean island of Gozo in Malta. The Ġgantija temples are the earliest of the Megalithic Temples of Malta and are older than the pyramids of Egypt. Their makers erected the two Ġgantija temples during the Neolithic, which makes these temples more than 5500 years old and the world's second oldest existing manmade religious structures after Göbekli Tepe in present-day Turkey. Together with other similar structures, these have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Megalithic Temples of Malta.

The temples are elements of a ceremonial site used in a fertility rite. Researchers have found that the numerous figurines and statues found on site are associated with that cult. According to local Gozitan folklore, a giantess who ate nothing but fava beans and honey bore a child from a man of the common people. With the child hanging from her shoulder, she built these temples and used them as places of worship.

The Megalithic Temples of Malta (Maltese: It-Tempji Megalitiċi ta' Malta) are several prehistoric temples, some of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, built during three distinct periods approximately between 3600 BC and 2500 BC on the island country of Malta. They had been claimed as the oldest free-standing structures on Earth until the discovery of Göbekli Tepe in Turkey. Archaeologists believe that these megalithic complexes are the result of local innovations in a process of cultural evolution. This led to the building of several temples of the Ġgantija phase (3600–3000 BC), culminating in the large Tarxien temple complex, which remained in use until 2500 BC. After this date, the temple-building culture disappeared.

The Ġgantija temples were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. In 1992, the UNESCO Committee further extended the existing listing to include five other megalithic temple sites. These are Ħaġar Qim (in Qrendi), Mnajdra (in Qrendi), Ta' Ħaġrat Temples (in Mġarr), Skorba Temples (in Żebbiegħ) and Tarxien Temples (in Tarxien). Nowadays, the sites are managed by Heritage Malta, while ownership of the surrounding lands varies from site to site. Apart from these, there are other megalithic temples in Malta which are not included in the UNESCO World Heritage list.