Ħaġar Qim. OLDER than Stonehenge!

One of the must things that you have to do while in Malta is visit this site.  We did not take the hop on hop off bus but took the local bus from St. Julians. It’s surprising that this site is older than Stonehenge yet not as popular. Nevertheless, Ħaġar Qim is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, inscribed as part of ‘The Megalithic Temples of Malta’ in the World Heritage List.

IMG_7424There are 7 megalithic temples found on the islands of Malta. Ħaġar Qim is one of them.

IMG_7479Ħaġar Qim Temples first excavated in 1839, the remains suggest a date between 3600 – 3200 BC, a period known as the Ġgantija phase in Maltese prehistory.

Stonehenge earliest structures known in the immediate area are four or five pits, three of which appear to have held large pine ‘totem-pole like’ posts erected in the Mesolithic period, between 8500 and 7000 BC. (english-heritage.org.uk).

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Ħaġar Qim was in fact never completely buried as the tallest stones, remained exposed and featured in 18th and 19th century paintings.

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On the island of Malta, the temples of Hagar Qin, Mnajdra and Tarxien are unique architectural masterpieces, given the limited resources available to their builders.

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The six components of the property have a high level of authenticity. They consist of well-preserved remains of megalithic temples, with evidence of different phases of construction in Antiquity.

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During the spring and autumn Equinox (20-21 March, 21-22 September) the sun rises in line with the main doorway of the South Temple, passing through the central corridor to the innermost apse. During the Summer Solstice (21 June) and Winter Solstice (21 December), a narrow beam of light just makes its way through the main doorway at sunrise. On all these occasions Heritage Malta organises guided tours to allow visitors to witness the phenomenon.

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Decorated features found within the buildings bear witness to a high level of craftsmanship. These elements consist mainly of panels decorated with drilled holes and bas-relief panels depicting spiral motifs, trees, plants and various animals.

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The temple builders used locally available stone of which they had a thorough knowledge.

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They used hard coralline limestone for external walls and the softer globigerina limestone for the more sheltered interiors and decorated elements.

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Tip. After going inside the Ħaġar Qim. Stroll around the park and discover a beautiful historical scenery overlooking the sea and the islet of Fifla.

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Sources: whc.unesco.org; maltacultureguide.com and heritagemalta.org.

Valletta, Malta – A Walk back in time.

     The capital city of Malta is a sight to behold. We went here in February of 2016. Malta – a small island in the southern Mediterranean Sea to the south of Italy – is one of the warmest destinations in Europe that you can visit when it is at it’s coldest in England. If winter is becoming too much to bear, Malta is a great winter escape. The climate is similar to spring or autumn with ample sunshine to brighten your day. It was amazing that this tiny country has so much to offer during the day and night. Here are a few photos I have taken whilst wandering around the streets of Valletta. Valletta is a port city and being half way between Gibraltar and the Suez Canal was strategically important to the British.

The Flag of Malta.

If you love doors, you will have a feast on the different doors of the houses and establishments around Valetta.

You will not miss the door handles in Valletta.

It was the end of the Baroque Festival when we arrived.

We were lucky to catch a glimpse of the street decorations. It was actually the day that they started to take them down.

Street of Balconies

Apartment blocks are adorned with balconies, not just in one street but almost in the entire city.

Malta is a very Catholic country, well, their national flag has an emblem of the cross, but the cross is actually the St George’s Cross, awarded to the entire island for their bravery during the Second World War by King George VI of the United Kingdom.

Malta was a British Crown Colony until 1964. Valletta was badly bombed during the Second World War and it’s inhabitants lived underground in tunnels during this period.

Notice the statues on the corner of the streets.

One part of the city contains crossroads featuring statues of Christian Saints.

The best way to go around Valetta is on foot.

Even though the city was heavily bombed during the Second World War it has a historic feel to it with plenty of interesting architecture and sites to visit. I will add more of these in my next update.