Ġgantija temples, Gozo, Malta

Gozo, Malta, Xaghra, temples, megalithic, history, culture, island

The name of these megalithic temples roughly translates as ‘Giants Grotto’ and they are older than both the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge in the UK.

Situated in Xaghra on the Maltese island of Gozo, it is a designated UNESCO World Hertiage Site and it is speculated that it was the site of a fertility cult. There are numerous alters (pictured above) and bones have been found indicating animal sacrifice took place here. There are two atriums to the temple (maybe representing ovaries?), and were originally painted with red ochre on the inside. These branch off into five apses each and house rivets that were likely used for holding blood offerings.

The extent and ornamentation of the temples is perhaps a little disappointing, but with no metal-working tools at the time of origin, and the wheel not yet invented, the structure becomes much more impressive. Large round boulders were found on the site, possibly used to move the larger rocks around in the construction of the temple. Local folklore states that it was actually built by giants, hence the evocative name.

Top tips for Ggantiji temples: The site is small and a visit will only take up around an hour of your day. However your ticket is also valid to visit the Ta Kola windmill, and there is Xerri’s Grotto (where a lovely old man will show you around the cave that his grandfather discovered whilst digging a well), and also Calypso’s Cave to visit in the vicinity. Finish the day off with a swim at the nearby Ramla Bay.