The Mnajdra Temples are three conjoined Neolithic temples on the southern coast of Malta. Dating from about 3000 BC, Mnajdra ("mna-ee-dra") is reminiscent of the even earlier complex at Ggantija on Gozo. Mnajdra 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.
History of Mnajdra Temples
The northern temple at Mnajdra was built c.3600-3200 BC, the middle temple was constructed 3150-2500 BC, and the southern temple dates from around 2000 BC.
What to See at Mnajdra Temples
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 important temple site, Hagar Qim.
Thanks to its good state of preservation and spectacular location, Mnajdra is the most atmospheric of Malta's many ancient temples - or at least it was before it was covered with a white tent in Summer 2009. 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 (northern/eastern) 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/western) 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.
Artifacts found at Mnajdra include stone and clay statuettes, shell and stone ornaments, flint tools and decorated earthenware. The lack of any metal objects is one of the indications of its Neolithic origin.
Quick Facts on Mnajdra Temples
|Categories:||archaeological sites; temples; astronomical alignments; ruins; World Heritage Sites|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||35.826765° N, 14.436400° E|
|Hours:||Daily 9am-5pm (last admission 4:30pm).|
Closed Dec. 24, 25, 31, Jan 1, Good Friday
|Lodging:||View hotels near Mnajdra Temples|
- Mnajdra Temples - Heritage Malta
- Mnajdra - Megalithic Portal
- Megalithic Temples of Malta - UNESCO World Heritage List
- Plan of Mnajdra Temples - Planetware (Baedecker)
- J.D. Evans, Malta (1959).
- Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess: The World of Old Europe (1991).
- Geoffrey Aquilina Ross, Blue Guide Malta and Gozo, 5th ed. (2000).
- Merlin Stone, When God Was a Woman (1976).
- Peg Streep, Sanctuaries of the Goddess: The Sacred Landscapes and Objects (1994).
- Karen Tate, Sacred Places of Goddess (2006).
- Photos of Mnajdra Temples - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of Mnajdra Temples, Qrendi
Below is a location map and aerial view of Mnajdra Temples. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.