Mnajdra

Astronomical Alignment Of The Megalithic Monuments,
Neolithic Architecture

The Mnajdra Temples ("mna-ee-dra") are a complex made up of three temples adjacently joined to one another but not connected. They are located close to Hagar Qim Temples. Each one of the temples has a separate entrance and consists of a number of altars and oracles which were used by the worshipers to communicate with the gods. The small walls have been rebuilt.

The Temples lie on a rugged stretch of coast typical of the Maltese coast  for this area. Today the temples are covered with a huge  cover to protect them from the elements. The temples are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites status. The two complexes, the Hagar Qim and this of Mnajdra, seem to have been built at different times, and their relationship is not known.

The main entrance into the temple is through a Trilithon entrance.

Astronomical alignment of the south temple

It is a fact that in the south temple three aces are aligned with the position of the sun as it rises over the horizon on the first day of each of the four seasons of the year.

It was purposely built in such a position so that the sun shines in between the stone at the Equinox and the Solstice. This used to help the people of the time to know when the seasons change and they need to harvest their crop.

The equinox

The Equinox happens on the 20th March and the 23rd September each year.

At this time, the sun can be seen directly above the earth‘s equator and therefore on these dates, the night and day are nearly of the some length.

The rays of the sun pass directly through the temple’s main doorway and light up the main axis.

The solstice

The Solstice occures on the 21st June and the 21st December of each year.

The Solstice occurs twice a day whenever the earth's axis tilts the most toward or away from the sun, causing the sun to be the farthest north or south at noon.

At the Summer Solstice, the rays of the sun light up the edge of the Megalith to the left of the doorway, connecting the first pair of chambers to the inner chambers.

At the Winter Solstice, the same effect can be seen on the corresponding Megalith, this time on the right hand side.

The temples are open to the public at sunrise on the spring equinox to allow visitors to view the impressive event.

Description of each temple

Oldest and smallest temple

The northern/eastern temple at Mnajdra was built 3600-3200 BC not long after Ggantija was built. It is the first, oldest and smallest temple laid on a simple three-apsed structure. The small upright stones with pitted decorations are the originals.

Middle largest temple

The middle largest temple was constructed 3150-2500 BC. Set in the middle of the other two standing at a higher level. It has an unusual three metre doorway which has broken through times and a second one beside it. A very interesting engraving of a temple facade is located to the left of the passage leading to the inner apses.

The most impressive temple

The southern/western temple dates from around 2000 BC. This is the most impressive of all three as it has corbelled walls which indicate that it was roofed like that of Ggantija in Gozo. The facade is largely intact.

The stone slabs are decorated with fascinating spiral carvings and dotted patterns. The porthole niche to the left is especially impressive, framed in a trilithon and two strangely tapered megaliths on either side.

Admission(common information for both Hagar Qim and Mnajdra Temples)

Winter opening hours – 1st October till 31st March

Monday to Saturday: 9.00 – 17.00

Last admission 16.30

Summer opening hours – 1st April to 30th September

Monday to Saturday: 9.00 – 19.00

Last admission 18.30

Closed on 24, 25 and 31st December, 1 st January and Good Friday.

Tickets:

Joint admission fees to Hagar Qim Temples and Mnajdra Temples are as follows:

Adults (18 – 59 years): €9.00

Youths (12 – 17) Senior citizens (60 years and over) : €6.50

Children (6 to 11): €4.50

Infants (1 to 5): Free

Getting thereBy car drive towards Zurrieq and Qrendi following the main roads and follow the signs to the temples. There is ample parking available close to the temples and adjacent to the visitor’s centre.

Public Transport: Arriva bus - route 201.

Eating: Hagar Qim restaurant is just 100 metres away from the temples.

Hop-on hop-off Routes: The Red South Route for both sightseeing operators namely Malta Sightseeing and City Sightseeing Malta pass from here with a stop at the main road, a minute walk from the visitors centre.

Closest Village: Zurrieq. Other villages very close by are Qrendi, Imqabba, Kirkop and Hal Safi.

Cultural Attractions: To visit the pictureque Blue Grotto, one kilometre away from Hagar Qim temples. There is a watch tower called Wardija Tower built by Grand Master of the Order of Malta Martin De Redin, completed by June 1659. The orginal name was Torre della Quardia di Giorno.

Between Hagar Qim and Mnajdra sites there is another watch tower known in Maltese as “Hamrija Tower” (Soil Tower) built together with the

Further on there is a small Location known as Ghar Lapsi.It is about a kilometre away from Blue Grotto. It is used by a few fisherman. In summer it is a popular spot for swimming. On arriving there is a restaurant very famous for traditional Maltese rabbit food.

Mnajdra Temples should be visited like all other temples in Malta.

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