MALTA (12)

GOZO – GGANTIJA TEMPLES

Only 3.5km (2.1 miles) from Gozo’s capital city Victoria, is the ancient Ggantija Temples – awesome for its age, its engineering and for the mystery of its builders.

A model of the temple site at the Archaeological Museum in Victoria (which we’ve visited earlier)

Experts say the Ggantija temples were built between 3600 and 3200 BC. Ggantija is claimed to be the world’s oldest free-standing structure – older even than the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge in Britain.

At first, the site looks like just another heap of stones

The Ggantija or, as it was commonly known in the past, “The Giant’s Tower”, is the largest, the best preserved and by far the most impressive prehistoric temple. It was unearthed in 1827 and comprises two temples, built several centuries apart with a forecourt.

The walls were constructed with ‘talquwwi’ – a harder type of limestone. The space between the inner and outer walls are filled with rubble and earth
The wooden walkway inside the temple
Each temple has five lobe-shaped apses leading off a central corridor

According to legend, the massive blocks of Ggantija were carried from the south side of the island by a female giant between 3600 and 3000 BC – some of these slabs are as much as 6m (20ft) high and weigh many tons.

I was wondering about this statement … in the first place, so there were giants? And secondly, why would it be a female giant? I guess this is a story to figure out at another time …

One of the big stone slabs at the Ggantija temples
The alter blocks were almost certainly used for the sacrifice of animals
Another huge stone
One of the outer walls – the stones fit like puzzle pieces
Another lobe-shaped apses
I was captivated with these huge single stone slabs
Glass in the wooden walkways provides a closer look at the floor which is partly covered with soft stone slabs and partly with turf or beaten earth

The huge megaliths forming the outer wall (the largest weighing several tons) were built alternately – one horizontally and one upright.

A close-up of the outer wall

It was fascinating to walk around these ancient temple sites, while life (as we know it today) a few steps further, were carrying on as normal. There was a farmer just on the other side of the wall busy harvesting his onions … it was actually quite weird to witness.

A farmer’s onion harvest on the wall next to the ancient temple site
Victoria, Gozo’s capital, is just a stone throw away from the temples

While walking around at the site of the Ggantija Temples, you can’t help but have your imagination stimulated by the thought of the ancient age of this place and what type of people lived here centuries ago.

A schematic of the Ggantija Temples is displayed at the site

Well, I suppose sometimes a heap of stones could be the representation of something with much more meaning and history than I could have ever thought.

In our next post about Gozo – yes, there are still more to show – we will visit the delightful little seaside village of Xlendi where we’ve stayed for our weekend on Gozo.

We have done these trips in 2011 & 2013

36 comments

    • Thank you Marion for still coming back to continuing reading about our Malta trips – it’s much appreciated! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed this one as well – I was quite impressed with this ancient site (taking into consideration of how old it is) … I’ll never say again “but it’s just a heap of stones” 😀.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Fascinating to visit such an ancient site. To think that they manage to transport these huge slabs of stone without metal tools or the wheel. I am intrigued by the 5 semi-circular apses radiating from the central corridor – what shape does it give to the structure? Thanks for taking us along with you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is indeed fascinating – I was completely bowled over by how old these temples are! If you have a look at the first photo (the model of Ggantija Temples) the bigger temple site (with the 5 semi-circular apses) almost looks like a butterfly or plane … well, I suppose from ancient perspective, the probability is a butterfly 🤔.
      The smaller one appears like the number eight (8) … like both of us said: Fascinating!
      Thanks for (still) following our trips to Malta/Gozo – we’ve got a few more before we round it up with a “Diving in Malta” post!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely – we’ve never heard of the Ggantija Temples until we’ve arrived in Malta. It was just hard to get my head around the age of this site. Thanks for reading and take care.

      Like

    • For such a small island, there’s A LOT to see! And the history behind everything is quite amazing … oh yes, and to get to Sicily, is only a 90 minute ferry ride from Malta 😊. Like you’ve said, Malta’s got so much to offer!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow this is absolutely amazing, I read it to Derek and now he has many questions flowing out his mouth… Of course all along the same lines of why a female giant. He of course wanted to see a photo of the giant and wondered why they needed two temples. 😁😜 You must have had a ball.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, you can tell Derek that statement about the female giant was a big point of discussion for the whole day! But even over a bottle of wine later that evening we could not come to a any conclusions … Berto’s opinion: A photo of that female giant would’ve been great 😜.
      And you’re 100% on the “ball of a time” … it was such an amazing experience – after 8 years, we still talks passionately about our last trip to Malta!
      Thanks for stopping by & take care 💌.

      Like

    • That’s so true … just the sheer age of these temples are beyond my imagination! It was a great spending some time between these ancient rocks (and if they could only talk … we would be able to find out more about that female giant 😉).

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, the Ggantija temples are indeed a fascinating place! And I’m pretty sure – although it’s such a small island – if a big family visit Malta (and Gozo), that there will be something for everyone to see and do!
      Thanks for reading – much appreciated!

      Like

    • Oh, that’s great Anita – so glad you’ve also enjoyed your visit at the Ggantija Temples! Yes, you’re absolute right – the history is just mind blowing!
      Thanks for your lovely comment 🌸.

      Like

  3. Another great post here, Corna.

    For obvious reasons I have had little to do for the last 18 months or so but sit at home (Government diktat) and watch an awful lot of documentaries on the BBC, many of which have been about archaeology. I think that we were all brought up thinking that the humans of 5,000 years ago were little more than apes loving in caves who had mastered a bit of flint-knapping and chucking the results at woolly mammoths or oryx or whatever but the most recent thinking is that they were a lot more “civilised” (if that is the right word for it. This site is a prime example.

    The techniques employed here are dry stone walling (still practiced on the outer reaches of the UK and presumably elsewhere) but on steroids, on the grand scale, it is a simply stupendous piece of very ancient architecture. I think it is long past time we regarded our more ancient ancestors as unthinking beasts rather than humans and gave them the credit they deserve. I believe they were a lot more advanced than they are given credit for and your piece here merely adds to my belief.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I really do not think that we are quite as smart as we think we are. Look at what our so-called “civilisation” has brought us, a world that is slowly but surely dying. Maybe the ancients had it right all along.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s