Two of the most very famous attractions in Malta are the Mdina temples and the Hagar Qim Temples. The sites of Mnajdra and Ħaġar Qim are divided into three sections. These are the visitor centre; here a brief introduction about the sites is given, in order for tourists to get to know the site better. The second part of the site is Ħaġar Qim and the third and last part of the site is Mnajdra. It is interesting to comment on the fact that both temples are built in such a way that the stones placed at the top are narrower than the bottom ones, probably for less sunlight to enter.
The introduction of the facilities was mainly because in the past, the visitor was left roaming around and therefore most of them did not understand anything. As a result, they introduced a new look to the facilities found in this visitor centre, which is divided into two sections. There is the service side which includes the reception where the tickets are bought, the cafeteria which is temporary closed, the bathrooms and finally the souvenir shops. On the other hand, the second part of the visitor site is the museum in which one can also find the children’s activity room.
Before visiting the museum and the Megalithic Temples, the visitors have the opportunity to see a five minute audio visual clip. This is done for the visitor to have a clear image of what the landscape would have looked like and therefore, putting the visitor`s mind into a certain frame work. This short video shows beautiful sceneries of the Maltese Islands. Unfortunately, this clip was not narrated and therefore no information is given except for some keywords and dates. After the short clip, the visitor moves to the museum.
This is divided into eight parts:
- the history of the discovery;
- the landscape and why they exist on the Maltese Islands;
- materials and resources both local and international;
- landscape information;
- astronomy and;
During the tour we were told that while designing the content of the museum, they felt the need to move away from putting a lot of text when displaying objects. The hands on experiments were introduced in order for the visitor to not simply read but also touch. This allows them to be part of the whole experience of that particular era. In the future, audio guides will be available in different languages which will cater for different nationalities. Also, the introduction of audio guides for children will be introduced.
Mnajdra Temples – Features and History
Mnajdra Temples are located in the Southern part of the Maltese Islands, precisely in Qrendi. It is approximately 500 metres away from Ħaġar Qim Temples and are regarded as one of the most ancient sites on Earth. It was in 1992 that UNESCO recognized Mnajdra Temples as being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is of a worldwide responsibility to conserve and preserve these temples as they are reflection of the past. Mnajdra Temples are managed by Heritage Malta and it is safe to say that they are doing their utmost to provide visitors the best experience possible when visiting the temples.
The temples were built using both globigerina limestone and coralline limestone. The exterior part of the temples is built using coralline limestone because it is more resistant when it comes to weather conditions. On the other hand, the interior part of the temples was built using globigerina limestone because it is a softer type of stone. In this way, builders were able to cut smooth and regularly shape the megaliths, which eventually fit together in a perfect manner.
One can say that upon arriving at the temples, it is visible that the complex is divided into three different sections. The smallest one can be found on the right hand side which was built in the period between 3600 and 3200BC. Another section, found on the left hand side was completed shortly after 3000BC. Following this, the central section of the temples was built on an artificial platform and was built between 3150 and 2500BC.
It has been believed that the small section of the temple consisted of three doorways and across these; one can see a series of holes that appear to have been drilled. The south temple was built in a way that rays of light hit the doorway at sunrise, during spring and autumn. On the other hand, during winter and summer, the rays of sun light pass beside the doorway, but instead, they hit the slabs of the first chamber.
The doorway, which also consists of two uprights supporting a horizontal slab lead to two wide apses. On the left side, one can find a small entrance with drilled holes. It is interesting to note that the upper parts of the wall are remains of the original roof of the temple. The three steps that follow lead to a small chamber built in the temple walls. Moving on to the central part of temple, this was built on a platform consisting of a simpler plan than the lower part. One comes across a covered niche when looking opposite the entrance, and along the left apse wall, one finds an entrance that leads to another chamber, with an altar-like shape.
It is of importance to mention that excavations took place back in 1840; exactly one year after Ħaġar Qim was discovered. Due to an inaccurate plan, more excavations took place in 1949, where two small statues, two large bowls, tools and one large spherical stone were discovered. One can find representations of the Mnajdra Temples on the 1 cent, 2 cents and 5 cents euro coins, symbolising its value and importance to the Maltese Islands. Part of the charm of Mnajdra Temples is that no visible modern development can be seen. This is for the reason that it should be appreciated in its original form and setting.