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Ġgantija Temples

Built before the famous standing stones at Stonehenge, the two temples making up this remarkable UNESCO World Heritage site have an extraordinary history. Built between 3600 and 3200 B.C, they fell into disuse around 2500BC and were not fully revealed to the modern eye until the nineteenth century.

The name Ġgantija derives from the word ‘ġgant’, Maltese for giant, as Gozitans used to believe the temples were built by a race of giants. Not so surprising when you see the size of the limestone blocks from which it is constructed. Some of these megaliths exceed five metres in length and weigh over fifty tons.

The temples have a large terrace at the front which would probably have been used for ceremonial gatherings. Remains of animal bones suggest some sort of ritual involving animal sacrifice and the use of fire is evidenced by the presence of stone hearths. A number of libation holes in the floor may have been used for the pouring of liquid offerings.
A small number of statuettes and other prehistoric objects found at Ġgantija can be seen in the Gozo Museum of Archaeology

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Basilica Museum – Heart of Gozo | Il-Ħaġar

The Fondazzjoni Belt Victoria was established in 1998 with the object of promoting the city of Gozo’s cultural identity and, in particular, of creating a Museum-cum-Cultural Centre in collaboration with St George’s Basilica.
As projected, the Museum would not only exhibit treasures belonging to St George’s Basilica but also other historical and cultural artefacts.
Over the years, the Fondazzjoni has been active in a range of cultural areas, including the publication of books and engravings, art exhibitions, book sales and music recitals.
After the acquisition of suitable property inside the city core and relative MEPA clearance, the Museum project (The Making of a People) was chosen to receive ERDF funding from the Cohesion Policy 2007-2013 Operational Programme I: Investing in Competitiveness for a Better Quality of Life.
The museum is an innovative element, aiding in the branding of the uslands of Malta and Gozo as cultural destinations of excellence.

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Museum of Archaeology

From unique 5000-year-old stone carvings to relics of the Phoenician, Roman, Arab and Medieval Christian eras on the island, the Gozo Museum of Archaeology is a small but important window onto the earliest cultures of Gozo up to the arrival of the Knights of St John.

Sculptures of human figures from the prehistoric Ġgantija Temple complex and the nearby ix-Xagħra Circle burial site are highlights of the collection. Created before the building of the famous standing stones at Stonehenge, these figures give real insight into the lives of the first Gozitans and their remarkable ability to work with stone.

A remnant of Arab culture from the area around ix-Xewkija is also displayed in the Museum. It is the marble tombstone of an Arab girl, Majmuna (pron. Maimoona) with an inscription in Arabic dating back to 1173. Interestingly, this shows that Arab culture continued in Gozo long after the islands were taken by the Christian Count Roger the Norman in 1090. On the underside of the slab is a pagan symbol, suggesting re-use of stone from a pagan temple.

The museum is housed in a 17th century townhouse within the vast fortified walls of the Citadel. It is known as Casa Bondi after the family that originally owned it and boasts a fine carved stone balcony above the main door. Opened in 1960, this was the first museum in Gozo and remains one of the most important on the island.

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Wardija Nymphaeum

Ras il-Wardija is a promontory in the limits of San Lawrenz, on the southwest coast of Gozo, Malta. It contains the remains of a Punic-Roman sanctuary, which was excavated by Italian archaeologists in the 1960s. The area is privately owned and it is currently in a dilapidated state.

Ras il-Wardija was probably first inhabited in the Bronze Age, in around 1500 BC. In around the 3rd century BC, during the Punic period, a religious complex (probably a nymphaeum) was established in the area. Since the site is clearly visible from the sea, it might have also served as a beacon for ships travelling between the Maltese Islands and North Africa.

The site remained in use throughout the Roman period. Carved crosses on the walls suggest that the site eventually became a Christian place of worship.The site remained in use until around the 4th century AD. A hermitage might have existed in the area during the medieval period.

The area around Ras il-Wardija was used for defensive purposes during World War II. The site was first excavated by the Missione Archaeologica Italiana a Malta (Archaeological Mission of Malta) between 1964 and 1967.The temple was well preserved until the excavations, but it has since deteriorated.

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Santa Verna Temple

Santa Verna is a megalithic site in Xagħra on the island of Gozo, Malta. The site was originally occupied by a village and a megalithic temple. Although the temple is in poor condition now, in ancient times it was probably one of the major temples in the Maltese islands. The site takes its name from a chapel dedicated to Saint Venera that once stood close to the temple.

Santa Verna was originally a prehistoric village, and the earliest pottery remains date back to around 5000 BC, during the Għar Dalam phase. The temple itself was built in the following centuries and it had a trefoil shape, which was typical of the time. In its heyday, Santa Verna was probably an important temple, which rivaled other major temples such as Ġgantija, Tarxien and Ħaġar Qim.

The only remains of the temple that survive today are three upright megaliths, another three horizontal blocks lining their eastern side, and the earth floor which makes it possible to see the temple’s original outline.

The megalithic remains at Santa Verna were found by Nikola Said, a worker at the Public Works Department. They were also noted by the archaeologist Manuel Magri in the early 20th century.The site was excavated in 1908 by T. Eric Peet, and again in 1911 by Thomas Ashby and R. N. Bradley. During the excavations, two complete skeletons and several incomplete ones were found, including one of a child. Many smaller artifacts were also found during the excavations.

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