I flew into Valletta, where I picked up a rental car. I had booked a hotel for four nights through Expedia. I had a GPS with me and had made sure that it contained the maps for
Malta. With the GPS it was no problem to find the hotel, and the sites that I wanted to visit.
On the first day I visited the Tarxien Temples, Ħaġar Qim, the Mnajdra Temple, the Skorba Temple, and the Cart Ruts at Misraħ Għar il-Kbir.
All pictures are © Dr. Günther Eichhorn, unless otherwise noted.
Valletta metropolitan area
Valletta is the capital city of
Malta. It is located on the north shore of the main island of Malta. The historical city has a population of 6,444 (as of March 2014), while the metropolitan area around it has a population of 393,938.
View of Valletta. (573k)
View of Valletta with the dome of the Madonna tal-Karmnu - Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in the center. (559k)
St. John's Co-Cathedral. (474k)
City wall of Valletta with the tower of St. Paul's Anglican Pro-Cathedral. (622k)
City wall of Valletta with Fort St. Elmo. (479k)
City wall of Valletta. (564k)
Moat around Valletta. (728k)
Stairs in Valletta. (700k)
Cobble street in Valletta. (651k)
Pedestrian street in Valletta. (682k)
Republic Street in Valletta, leading down to Fort St. Elmo. (755k)
Triton Fountain in Valletta. (535k)
Valletta Harbor with large cruise ship. Valletta was full of tourists. (599k)
Fort St. Angelo across the harbor inlet. (582k)
View of 17 th-century Fort Ricasoli from Fort St. Elmo. (518k)
17 th-century Fort Ricasoli. (538k)
Cemetery at the Church of All Souls in Tarxien. (591k)
Cemetery at the Church of All Souls in Tarxien. (658k)
Paola Parish Church. (630k)
The Tarxien Temples are an archaeological complex in Tarxien,
Malta. They date to between 3600 BCE and 2500 BCE.
The Easternmost Temple is the oldest structure (3600-3200 BCE). Only the lower parts of the walls survive.
The other three structures, the South Temple, East Temple, and Central Temple date to 3150-2500 BCE. The South Temple is rich in prehistoric art. The Central Temple is the last structure to be built. It has a six-chambered plan and contains evidence of roofing.
Entrance to the South Temple. (591k)
South Temple. (659k)
Part of the South Temple. (730k)
View over the South and East Temples. (675k)
Spiral designs at the entrance to the Central Temple. (611k)
View over the East Temple. (777k)
View over the East Temple. (696k)
View over the East Temple. (799k)
View of the South Temple. (736k)
View over the Central (background) and East (right) Temples. (743k)
Niche between the East and Central Temples with pottery jars. (694k)
South Temple (background) and Central Temple (foreground). (704k)
Central Temple with the six apses. It is the only known prehistoric temple with six apses. (710k)
Building remnants between the South Temple and the East Temple. (732k)
View towards the eastern part of the South Temple. (663k)
In the South Temple. (695k)
In the South Temple. (576k)
Sculpture of a skirted figure. (659k)
Carved stone altar. This was a focal point in the South Temple. Remnants of animals and tools were found here. (656k)
Carved decorations in the South Temple. (650k)
Pottery vessel. (554k)
Remnants of the Easternmost Temple. (987k)
Wikipedia entry for Ħaġar Qim
Ħaġar Qim ("Standing/Worshiping Stones") is a megalithic complex, dating from the Ġgantija phase (3600-2500 BCE). Today it is called a temple, but we actually know little about what went on in these buildings.
The Ħaġar Qim complex consists of a main structure and three additional megalithic structures beside it. The main structure was built between 3600 and 3200 BCE; however, the northern ruins are considerably older. The outside entrance serves as an interior passage and connects six large chambers. The right apse is constructed as an arch to prevent the upright slabs falling inward. The outside wall, built of huge upright blocks, projects inwards, thus creating an extremely solid building. This entrance passage and first court follow the Maltese megalithic pattern but as building progressed, this design was considerably modified. The northwesterly apse was replaced by four independent enclosures.
Ħaġar Qim shares its basic architectural design with the Mnajdra, Tarxien and Ġgantija complexes. The basic shape includes forecourt and facade, elongated oval chambers, semi-circular recesses and a central passage connecting the chambers. This configuration is commonly termed "trefoil". It is also suggested that the shape of the structure in some way mimics the sacred sculptures found within them.
View of the complex. (665k)
View of the complex. (651k)
Outer wall. (657k)
Main entrance. (498k)
View through to the main entrance. (585k)
Chamber which marks the summer solstice. (631k)
Entrance to chamber tucked into the thickness of the wall. (639k)
Porthole doorway, cut out of a single limestone slab. (654k)
Another of these doorways. (667k)
Close-up of the porthole doorway. Notice the holes on either side for hanging doors. (681k)
External niche with a 2 m (7 ft) high central pillar. (653k)
One of the largest single blocks found anywhere on Malta. It is 6.40 m (21.00 ft) long and 3.00 m (9.84 ft) high. It is estimated to weigh 20 t. To the right is the tallest monolith, 5.20 m (17.06 ft) high. (671k)
Northern temple (3600-3200 BCE). (673k)
Ancient temple (from before 3600 BCE). (763k)
Relief sculpture, possibly used as an altar. (580k)
Globigerina limestone slab with spiral and drilled decoration. (589k)
One of the obese figures found at Ħaġar Qim. (457k)
Wikipedia entry for Mnajdra
Mnajdra is a megalithic temple complex on the southern coast of
Malta. Mnajdra is approximately 500 m (1,640 ft) from the Ħaġar Qim megalithic complex. Mnajdra was built around the fourth millennium BCE. Building materials were the harder coralline limestone, used mainly for the outer walls, and the softer globigerina limestone, used mainly in the interior.
The cloverleaf plan of Mnajdra consists of three temples, conjoined, but not connected: the upper, middle, and lower.
The upper temple is the oldest structure in the Mnajdra complex and dates to the Ġgantija phase (3600-3200 BCE). It is a three-apsed building, the central apse opening blocked by a low screen wall. The pillar-stones were decorated with pit marks drilled in horizontal rows on the inner surface.
The middle temple was built (or possibly rebuilt) in the late Tarxien phase (3150 – 2500 BCE), the main central doorway of which is formed by a hole cut into a large piece of limestone set upright, a type of construction typical of other megalithic doorways in
Malta. This temple appears originally to have had a vaulted ceiling, but only the base of the ceiling now remain on top of the walls and, in fact, is the most recent structure. It is formed of slabs topped by horizontal courses.
The lowest temple, built in the early Tarxien phase, is the most impressive and possibly the best example of Maltese megalithic architecture. It has a large forecourt containing stone benches, an entrance passage covered by horizontal slabs, one of which has survived, and the remains of a possibly domed roof. The temple is decorated with spiral carvings and indentations, and pierced by windows, some into smaller rooms and one onto an arrangement of stones.
View of the Mnajdra complex. (868k)
Closer view of the Mnajdra complex. (630k)
Entrance to the complex. (660k)
Entrance to the complex. (593k)
Entrance to the inner part of the complex. (599k)
Interior doorway. (684k)
View into the inner room. (697k)
Interior room. (675k)
Doorway cut from a single slab. (677k)
Remnants of the corbelled roofing. (677k)
One of the apses. (620k)
Middle Temple. (590k)
East Temple. (776k)
Elaborate doorway, decorated with pitted texture. (693k)
Closer view of the doorway, decorated with pitted texture. (730k)
Close-up of a stone with pitted texture. (745k)
Altar-like structure. (568k)
Strongly eroded stones. (693k)
Wikipedia entry for Skorba Temples
The Skorba temples are megalithic remains on the northern edge of Żebbiegħ, in
Malta, which have provided detailed and informative insight into the earliest periods of Malta's neolithic culture. The temple dates from 3600 BCE, the earliest remains date back to about 4850 BCE.
The remains on the site are a series of megalithic uprights (one of them 3.4 m (11.2 ft) high), the lowest course of the temples' foundations, paving slabs with libation holes in the entrance passage, and the torba (a cement-like material) floor of a three-apse temple. This three-apse shape is typical of the Ġgantija phase. Unfortunately, the greater part of the first two apses and the whole of the facade have been razed to ground level.
The north wall is in a better state of preservation. Originally, the entrance of the temple opened on a court, but in later additions during the Tarxien phase, the temple's doorway was closed off, with altars set in the corners formed by the closure. East of this temple, a second monument was added in the Tarxien phase, with four apses and a central niche.
For a period of roughly twelve centuries before the temples were built, a village already stood on the site. Its oldest extant structure is the eleven meter long straight wall to the west of the temples' first entrance. Deposits at its base contained material from the first known human occupation of the island, the Għar Dalam phase, including charcoal, which carbon analysis dated to 4850 BCE.
View of the Skorba complex. (750k)
Part of the Skorba complex. (878k)
Part of the Skorba complex. (941k)
Part of the Skorba complex. (782k)
Part of the Skorba complex. (1076k)
One of the apses. (878k)
One of the standing stones, heavily eroded. (751k)
Parish Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven, near Skorba. (530k)
Misraħ Għar il-Kbir
Misraħ Għar il-Kbir (informally known as Clapham Junction) is a prehistoric site in Siġġiewi,
Malta, near the Dingli Cliffs. It is best known for its "cart ruts" - a complex network of tracks gouged in the rock. The age and purpose of the tracks are still a mystery of Maltese history. In general, most archaeologists presume that the site developed about 2000 BCE after new settlers came over from Sicily to start the Bronze Age in Malta. See the Wikipedia entry for Misraħ Għar il-Kbir for more details.
Cart ruts. (794k)
Closer view of the cart ruts. (955k)
Another of the cart ruts. (973k)
Mdina, Rabat, Mosta, and Naxxar
Rabat are two beautiful medieval cities with interesting architecture. Mdina is a fortified city in central Malta, which served as the island's capital from antiquity to the medieval period. The city is still confined within its walls, and has a population of just under 300, but it is contiguous with the town of Rabat, which takes its name from the Arabic word for suburb, and has a population of over 11,000 (as of March 2014).
The Domus Romana is a Roman villa on the border between Mdina and
Rabat, dating back to the 1 st century CE. It contains some nice floor mosaics.
Mosta is a town in the Northern Region of
Malta, to the north-west of Valletta. In 2014, it had an estimated population of 20,241.
The most famous building in Mosta is the Rotunda, a large church with the third largest unsupported dome in the world.
Naxxar is a town in the Northern Region of
Malta, with a population of about 13,443 people as of March 2014. The Naxxar Parish Church is dedicated to Our Lady of Victories.
View of Mdina. (568k)
City wall of Mdina. (583k)
In Mdina. (583k)
Alley in Mdina. (645k)
Alley in Mdina. (529k)
Alley in Mdina. (710k)
St. Paul's Cathedral in Mdina. (717k)
Inside St. Paul's Cathedral in Mdina. (791k)
Inside St. Paul's Cathedral in Mdina. (796k)
Altar in the St. Paul's Cathedral in Mdina. (815k)
Altar in the St. Paul's Cathedral in Mdina. (789k)
Marble floor mosaic in St. Paul's Cathedral in Mdina. (637k)
Marble floor mosaic in St. Paul's Cathedral in Mdina. (658k)
Carmelite Priory in Mdina. (658k)
Statue on the Carmelite Priory in Mdina. (723k)
Inside the Carmelite Priory in Mdina. (699k)
Altar in the Carmelite Priory in Mdina. (779k)
Doorway in Mdina. (722k)
Gate between Mdina and Rabat. (718k)
View of the grounds of the Domus Romana. (833k)
Various stone artifacts in the Domus Romana. (950k)
Marble floor mosaic in the Domus Romana. (733k)
Marble floor mosaic with the "Drinking Doves" in the center. (750k)
Close-up of the "Drinking Doves" floor mosaic. (640k)
Marble statue in the Domus Romana. (503k)
St. Paul's Church in Rabat. (623k)
Mosaic on St. Paul's Church in Rabat. (793k)
St. Cataldus Church in Rabat. (561k)
St Dominic's Priory in Rabat. (595k)
St Dominic's Priory. (545k)
Wooden door at St Dominic's Priory. (467k)
Stone carved crest on St Dominic's Priory. (584k)
Courtyard in St Dominic's Priory. (855k)
Sun dials in St Dominic's Priory. I don't know what they are supposed to show. (703k)
Close-up of one of the sun dials. (762k)
Close-up of another one of the sun dials. (712k)
The Rotunda of Mosta. (770k)
The Rotunda of Mosta. (664k)
The Rotunda of Mosta. (612k)
Naxxar Parish Church. (660k)
Stone-carved statue on the Naxxar Parish Church. (538k)
Stone-carved statue on the Naxxar Parish Church. (559k)
St. Paul's Catacombs:stpauls
Wikipedia entry for St. Paul's Catacombs
St. Paul's Catacombs are some of the most prominent features of Malta's early Christianity archaeology. The archaeological clearing of the site has revealed an extensive system of underground galleries and tombs dating from the fourth to the ninth centuries CE.
St. Paul's catacombs are part of a large cemetery once located outside the walls of the ancient Greek city of Melite, now covered by the smaller Mdina and
Rabat. It also comprises the catacombs of Saint Agatha, San Katald, St. Augustine and many others.
The cemetery probably originated in the Phoenician-Punic period. As in Roman tradition, Phoenician and Punic burials were located outside city walls. The many tombs discovered in areas outside the known line of the Roman city suggest that the city of Melite was close to equal size.
The early tombs consisted of a deep rectangular shaft with one or two chambers dug from its sides. This type of burial was used well into the Roman occupation of the islands, but the chambers grew larger and more regular in shape over time. It is probable that this enlargement joined neighboring tombs and led to the creation of small catacombs, which became the norm by the fourth century CE.
The entrance to the main complex of St Paul's Catacombs leads to two considerably large halls, adorned with pillars made to resemble Doric columns and painted plasters most of which have now disappeared. On keeping with what seems to have been a norm in most Christian catacombs, these main halls are equipped with two circular tables set in a low platform with sloping sides which resemble the reclining couch (triclinium) present in Roman houses. In all cases found in the main complex and the numerous other Christian Hypogea of the site, both table and couch are hewn out in one piece form the living rock forming a single architectural unit within an apsed recess. Although various interpretations may be found, these triclinia, or Agape tables, were probably used to host commemorative meals during the annual festival of the dead, during which the rites of burials were renewed.
In the catacombs. In some areas it was a veritable maze. (708k)
In the catacombs. (605k)
In the catacombs. (574k)
Large open area with many tombs. (722k)
Area with several grave sites. (685k)
Area with several grave sites. (715k)
Area with several grave sites. (713k)
Catacomb with burial niches and an Agape table. (686k)
View of catacombs with an Agape table in front. (669k)
Agape table, carved out of the solid rock. (720k)
Narrow hallway in the catacombs. (629k)
Burial niches. (756k)
Opening to a lower level. (707k)
Large grave site. (643k)
Catacombs with remnants of wall paintings. (709k)
Closer view of the remnants of wall paintings. (815k)
Window in the form of a Maltese Cross. (574k)
Carved image of a menorah, indicating that there were also Jewish burials in the catacombs. (737k)
Carvings of tools on one of the tombs. (778k)
Carvings of tools on one of the tombs. (643k)
Carved image of a boat. (658k)
Carved image of a boat with writing. (508k)
Writing on the wall. (520k)
De Redin Towers
The De Redin Towers are a series of small coastal watchtowers built by the Order of Saint John between 1658 and 1659. Thirteen towers were built around the coast of mainland
Malta, eight of which still survive.
Għallis Tower. (585k)
Madliena Tower. (534k)
Saint Agatha's Tower
Saint Agatha's Tower, also known as the Red Tower, is a large bastioned watchtower in Mellieħa,
Malta. It was built between 1647 and 1649, as the sixth of the Lascaris towers. The tower's design is completely different from the rest of the Lascaris towers, but it is similar to the earlier Wignacourt towers. St. Agatha's Tower was the last large bastioned tower to be built in Malta.
Saint Agatha's Tower. (612k)
Saint Agatha's Tower. (630k)
Southern part of Malta. (647k)
Northern part of Malta with the Marfa Peninsula in the background. (679k)
Large bee visiting a thistle. (597k)
Indian Prickly-pear Cactus ( , french: Opuntia ficus-indica Figuier de Barbarie). (994k)
Close-up of Indian Prickly-pear Cactus ( , french: Opuntia ficus-indica Figuier de Barbarie). (603k)
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Page last updated on Sun Mar 10 16:07:39 2019 (Mountain Standard Time)
Malta - Stone Age Monuments and Medieval Monuments on guenther-eichhorn.com