Mnajdra Temples

 

The Mnajdra Temples are three conjoined Neolithic temples on the southern coast of Malta. Dating from about 3000 BC, Mnajdra is reminiscent of the even earlier complex at Ggantija on Gozo.

Mnajdra (“mna-ee-dra”) is less than 1 km downhill from the Hagar Qim temple complex. The two complexes seem to have built at different times, and their relationship is not known.

Mnajdra occupies an isolated position on a rugged stretch of coast overlooking the Mediterranean sea and the isle of Fifla. It is less than a kilometer from another temple site, Hagar Qim.

Thanks to its good state of preservation and spectacular location, Mnajdra is considered the most atmospheric of Malta’s ancient temples.

The Mnajdra complex consists of three temples that radiate from an oval forecourt. The three temples adjoin one another but are not connected; each has its own entrance.

The first and oldest temple (on the north) is a simple three-apsed structure dating from c.3600-3200 BC, not long after Ggantija was built. The small walls have been reconstructed but the small uprights, with their pitted decoration, are original.

The middle temple is the largest and was the last to be built, closer to 2000 BC. It was inserted between the other two and set at a higher level, and is unusual in having a great 3-meter high porthole slab (now broken) as its main entrance, with a second doorway beside it. To the left of the passage leading to the inner apses is an engraving of a temple facade.

The most impressive of the Mnajdra temples is the lower (southern) temple, with a largely intact façade and bench constructed sometime between 3150 and 2500 BC. Its corbelled walls indicated the temple was roofed (as at Ggantija), and the stone slabs are decorated with intriguing spiral carvings and dotted patterns. The porthole niche to the left is especially impressive, framed in a trilithon and two strangely tapered megaliths on either side.

In the right-hand apse of the lower temple is a porthole doorway at the top of a flight of steps giving access to a intramural chamber. An oracle hole opens from that chamber and another oracle hole in a recess communicates with the back and outside of the temple. Within the first side chamber is an altar on a double-hourglass shaped pillar.

The lower temple is astronomically aligned. On the equinoxes (March 20 and Sept. 22), the rays of the sun pass directly through the temple’s main doorway and light up the main axis. At the summer solstice (June 21), the sun lights up the edge of a megalith to the left of the doorway, connecting the first pair of chambers to the inner chambers. At the winter solstice (Dec. 21), the same effect can be seen on the corresponding megalith on the right hand side. The temples are opened to the public at sunrise on the spring equinox to allow visitors to view the impressive event.

 

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July 27, 2014July 27, 2014
Newswebsite Honorary Consul General Mr. Godwin E. Bencini today announced that the Honorary Consulate for the Slovak Republic in Malta has launched its new website. This website is aimed at brining together the Slovak community in Malta, inform them of the Honorary Consulate's work and act as a bridge between Slovakia and Malta. Mr. Bencini encourages all Slovaks, both in Malta and abroad, to engage with this website, share their views and participate in the consulate's affairs.