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Ancient Temples of Malta

3 Day Tour
3 Days (7/8 hours each day)
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Archeaology Musem star attraction is the enigmatic “Sleeping Lady”

Tour Description

Day 1
Archaeology Museum (Valletta), Hagar Qim Temples, Mnajdra Temples, Visitors Centre, Marsaxlokk, Hypogeum

This three day tour includes the main temples and geological sites around Malta and Gozo.

We start our tour with a visit to the Museum of Archaeology in Valletta. This museum displays an exceptional array of artefacts from Malta's unique prehistoric periods, starting with the first evidence of human settlement in the Ghar Dalam Phase (5200BC) all the way to the Phoenicians (700BC). We then proceed with a visit to the Hagar Qim Complex which includes Hagar Qim and Mnajdra Temples. Before entering the temples we stop at the new visitors centre where you can easily understand how these magnificent temples where built over 5000 years ago! We then continue with a tour of Hagar Qim Temple. This temple has the largest and heaviest megaliths out of all the temple sites around the Maltese Islands, some slabs weighing a staggering 20 tons. Also forming part of this temple complex are the Mnajdra Temples some 500 metres down from Hagar Qim and overlooking the tiny isle of Filfla. This site is probably the most atmospheric of all Malta’s temples. One of these temples is also known as the Calendar in Stone because in both the Solstices and the Equinoxes the temple is lit up.

Our next stop will be the fishing village of Marsaxlokk for a late lunch break.

In the afternoon we will visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum(closed from 6th June 2016 to June 2017). This unique, ancient underground monument is 12 metres below street level. It consists of a network of passages, chambers and caves cut on three levels, similar to the interior of a megalithic temple. The most impressive part of the temple is the "Holy of Holies" and one of the most important prehistoric masterpieces known as the "Sleeping Lady" was also found here.

At this stage our tour comes to an end and we will make our way back.


Day 2
Cart Ruts, Dingli Cliffs, Skorba, Ta' Hagrat, Mgarr, Ghar Dalam & Tarxien

During this tour we will visit central Malta and the west coast.

Our tour starts at the mysterious and puzzling cart ruts. These are hundreds of pairs of cart ruts criss-crossing each other, go off the top of cliffs, across bays and underwater. Most archaeologists believe they date to the Bronze Age period (2000BC) but to this day these tracks are a mystery of Maltese history. The largest area with cart ruts is known as 'Clapham Junction'. Our next stop are the amazing Dingli Cliffs. These are situated on the west coast of Malta and the different strata layers can eaily be seen here. Being the highest point of the island, you can enjoy fantastic views not only of the island of Filfla but also of a large part of the east coast of Malta.

We continue to the next sites of Skorba and Ta' Hagrat. Skorba was excavated in the 1960s and it is one of the most informative sites. This later excavation allowed the use of modern methods of dating and analysis. Structures found on site cover from Ghar Dalam phase (5200BC) to the Ggantija phase (3600BC). However the importance of this site does not lie in the actual remains but rather in what was garnered from their excavation. Next is the Ta' Hagrat Temples. These are amongs the most ancient religious sites on Earth. The larger Ta' Hagrat temple dates from Ggantija Phase (3600BC) whilst the smaller one dates to the Saflieni Phase (3300BC). An impressive scale model of a temple was found here (5cm x 3.5cm).

We will stop for lunch in the small village of Mgarr before continuing with our tour.

The second half of the tour will include visits to Ghar Dalam and Tarxien Temples. Our first visit is to the ancient Tarxien Temples. Tarxien was the first temple site to be excavated scientifically and it offers a unique collection of circa. 3000 BC sanctuaries. Stone idols and tablets, domestic animals carved in relief, altars and screens decorated with spiral designs and other patterns, oracular chambers and riches enhance the attractions of these temples.

Our final site is Ghar Dalam. The Ghar Dalam Cave is a highly important site as it was here that the earliest evidence of human settlement on Malta, some 7,000 years ago, was discovered. This huge cavern is 144 metres deep, but only the first 80 metres are accessible. The lowermost layers date back to the Pleistocene Age (180,00 years ago) and to the end of the last Ice Age (16,000 years ago) and contained the fossilised bones of dwarf elephants, hippopotami, red deer, bear, fox, wolf, micro-mammals and birds.

At this stage our tour comes to an end and we will make our way back.

Day 3
Gozo Island: Ggantija Temples & Visitor's Centre, Citadel, Calypso's Cave, Xlendi Bay, Dwejra Bay, Inland Sea & Azure Window

On day three we will cross over to the island of Gozo. On arrival on the smaller island we start our tour with a visit to the Ggantija Temples and the Visitor's Centre. This impressive centre includes all the artefacts from the Ggantija temples and also from the Xaghra Stone Circle. The Xaghra Circle is the Hypogeum of Gozo and sheds a very important light on mortuary rituals. The temples stand at the end of the Xagħra plateau, facing towards the south-east. The Ġgantija temples date back to 3600BC and are older than the pyramids of Egypt.
We will then drive on to a spectacular view of Ramla Bay from Calypso's Cave, proceed on to Marsalforn, Qbajjar and Xwejni Salt Pans.

Our next stop will be at the Citadel. We will walk round the Citadel and visit the Grain Silos(closed on Sundays).

After our lunch break in the pretty bay of Xlendi we continue onto Dwejra which is a natural site with spectacular views and famous landmarks including the Inland Sea, Dwejra Bay and General's Rock (Fungus Rock). The stunning geography of the area was created thousands of years ago when two limestone caves collapsed.

At this stage our tour comes to an end and we will make our way back to the ferry for the short 25 minute crossing back to the main island.

© 2013 Joan Sheridan Freelance Tour Guide. All rights reserved.