Mnajdra & Ħaġar Qim - A Journey into Malta’s Ancient Past (Part 2)

Posted February 9, 2021 by Rachel Davis

...continued on from Part I

Continuing my journey into prehistory, I followed the path downhill and admired the stunning ocean-view. Just as I arrived, I was lucky enough to watch a coastal shower roll in over the cliffs. Thankfully, Mnajdra is protected by a massive canvas shelter so I was able to take a seat on a nearby bench and enjoy the cool breeze.

Mnajdra comes to life several times a year when the sunrises on the Equinoxes and Solstices light up particular areas of the complex. The rising sun on the March and September Equinoxes passes exactly through the main doorway, whereas during the December and June Solstices, the megaliths to the left and right side of the entrance are illuminated. I could only imagine the sense of anticipation that would have been felt on those special days!

After exploring the interior of the main chambers, I came across another highlight of Mnajdra. During excavations on the perimeter of the complex, a stone was found with 6 lines of regular holes bored into it. From my position the lines were hard to spot at first (the area was under conservation work) - but easy to find once I knew what I was looking for. Dubbed ‘the Calendar Stone’, archaeologists believe this block was used to make astronomical observations. It appears that the holes were drilled in an attempt to track months, years and even times between moon phases; the reason for which is still unknown.  

I finished my visit to Mnadjra and Ħaġar Qim amazed by the level of thought and planning required to build both. I realised though that despite spending the day at both sites, I was leaving with more questions than answers; a byproduct of a society that left no texts to explain their beliefs. Perhaps I had missed some vital clue along the way, which could only have been relayed to me by a guide. Of course, a visit without an expert is still possible, but I would have really appreciated the local knowledge to make the experience that bit more special! 

Thankfully, all guests on our Malta Explorer tour have the opportunity to explore Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra with a qualified guide:

click here to find out more.

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Malta Explorer

Culture | Archaeology

Megalithic temples, medieval cities and Mediterranean landscapes

£1,350 pp This is the per person group tour price, based on 2 sharing. The price is subject to change with exchange rate and flight cost fluctuations.
6 days
Call us on:020 7183 6371

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