For wannabe archaeologists and curious tourists alike, Malta’s variety of historical sites has plenty to whet the appetite for the ancient world. Here’s five historical spots that you really shouldn’t miss whilst in Malta.
TARXIEN TEMPLES, Tarxien
Built between 3600 and 2500 BC, the Tarxien Temples are a complex of four megalithic structures that give unique insight into an ancient civilization and the people that first lived there. One of the largest prehistoric sites on the Maltese Islands and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Temples are home to some of the best examples of prehistoric art, including reliefs of two bulls and a sow. Ground level and elevated walkways around the temples ensure that they are accessible for all to view the fascinating architecture up close.
ST PAUL’S CATACOMBS, Rabat
On the outskirts of Mdina lies a series of interconnected underground Roman cemeteries known as St Paul’s Catacombs. These complex systems of tunnels, which cover an area of well over 2,000 square metres, were first in use around the 4th century AD, when Roman law prohibited burials within the city. More recently used as an impromptu bomb shelter during the Second World War, visitors can now appreciate the evidence of the many historic periods through which the Catacombs have survived.
ĦAGAR QIM TEMPLES/MNAJDRA TEMPLES, Qrendi
The temple of Ħagar Qim sits on a hilltop near Qrendi, only 500m away from another temple site named Mnajdra. With a panoramic seaview that looks out beyond the isle of Filfla, the surrounding landscape of both affords visitors some truly spectacular views. The temples themselves are equally fascinating, having been built somewhere between 3600 and 3200BC and displaying a variety of megalithic structures. A dedicated interactive visitor centre, meanwhile, provides a mass of information about these UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
THE HYPOGEUM, Tarxien
An underground prehistoric burial site, the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum is a complex of interconnecting chambers set in rock on three levels. The only prehistoric burial site that is open to the public, it is largely decorated with carvings as well as paintings in red ochre that are the oldest and only prehistoric paintings recorded in Malta and Gozo.
GĦAR DALAM, Birzebbugia
Malta’s oldest prehistoric site is a fascinating series of caves beneath Birzebuggia known as Għar Dalam. Hugely important in the fields of palaeontology, archaeology and ecology, the discoveries made on the site have even indicated the earliest evidence of human settlement on Malta, around 7,400 years ago, as well as the bones of Ice Age animals being clearly visible. Besides the caves, the site includes a Victorian-style exhibition, a didactic display and public gardens.
Love history? Why not spend a long weekend discovering Malta’s fantastic historic sites. A stay at the Radisson Blu Resort, St Julian’s will provide the perfect base for your explorations. And if you need help getting around, check out our Guide To Public Transport in Malta.