Take a trip to prehistory, to the small island of Gozo in the Mediterranean, through the ruins of ancient temples and through its caves. I will tell you shortly the story of it.”
Malta is the World’s tenth smallest country in area and fifth most densely populated sovereign country. Its capital is Valletta, which is the smallest national capital in the European Union by area at 0.8 km2.
The rooms of the temples at Ggantija could have been used for ritual sacrifices made to the mother goddess of the Earth.
Gozo is an island of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. The island is part of the Republic of Malta. After the island of Malta itself, it is the second-largest island in the area. As of March 2015, the island has a population of around 37,342 (out of Malta’s total 475,000), and its inhabitants are known as Gozitans. It is rich in historic locations such as the Ġgantija temples, which, along with the other Megalithic Temples of Malta, are among the world’s oldest free-standing structures.
Ggantija is a megalithic temple complex from the Neolithic on the Mediterranean island of Gozo. 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 (c. 3600–2500 BC), 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.
Raised on a rocky plateau, near the village of Xaghra, in the northeast of the island of Gozo, the massive limestone blocks of coral color belonging to the two Neolithic temples of Ggantija harmonize with the gray-dark land. The trilobate form of the plan of each temple, modified by the addition of pairs of lateral apses, is often resembled the breasts and broad hips of a fertile woman, supporting the theory that the temples were at the center of a fertility cult.
What else to do?
- Explore the medieval streets and alleys of nearby Xaghra village, where there are very old churches and a folklore museum set in the 300-year-old Ta’Kola windmill.
- Visit the Archeology Museum on the island of Gozo, located in the capital Victoria (named by locals Rabat), about 5 km from Xaghra. Among the refined artefacts are two carved female heads, discovered during the first excavations at Ggantija, in 1827.
- In the northeast cliffs of Xaghra there are alabaster caves, overlooking the bay of Ir-Ramla. One of these is the Calypso Cave where, according to Homer, the beautiful sea nymph Calipso held Odysseus prisoner for seven years.
Gozo is an island in the Maltese archipelago and part of Malta. You can reach Gozo by ferry from the island, and you can easily get to Ggantija by road. There are buses from Victoria to Xaghra, but they rarely travel, especially towards evening. Book 2-3 hours to visit the temples and at least another 2 hours if you want to explore Xaghra. Tallinja is an app (you can download) for Maltese public transport, it is very helpful – I guarantee 🙂
When to go to Gozo?
…the article inspired by [national geographic] 500 sacred places to visit