Tarxien Temples also known as the Megalithic Temples of Tarxien were constructed at the height of the Temple Period. They are a witness to the culmination of prehistoric art, architecture and ritual practices in late Neolithic Malta.
They are one of the most unique temples in the world due to their sophisticated and precise designs. Also the unique and beautiful art has made these temples part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
They are situated 400 metres away from the Hypogeum in Paola where the first temple was built around 3000 BC. They are located on the eastern far end of the site. Only part of this building can still be seen where it consisted of five semicircular rooms or apses with a concave facade.
There are three temples, one bigger than the other and each one is in the shape of the fat lady. They are made up of a group of semi-circular apses that connect to each other with passages.
As one enters the Tarxien Temple which is the shape of a trilithon, this is a copy of the original, one ﬁnds the huge statue of the fat lady. This proves that the goddess of fertility was the goddess the Neolithic people who worshiped her.
The site was hidden for centuries under accumulated dust and used as fields until 1913 when a local farmer got his plough stuck on some large stones. This created a lot of interest and Maltese Archaeologist Sir Temi Zammit conducted an archaeological dig during 1919.
For conservation purposes most of the original artworks found here have now been located at the Tarxien entrance before entering the temples and at the Museum of Archaeology in Valletta. Thus copies can now be seen at the original locations.
The East Temple was the first to be built in the Tarxien Phase (ca. 3000 – 2500 BC), followed by the South and Central Temple.
At the South Temple the largest collection of megalithic art was found, mostly stone blocks carved in relief, showing various spiral designs. Even animals which they used to rear included goats, bulls, pigs and a ram. They were killed and offered as sacrifice to the ‘goddess of fertility. They were part of their daily meals and animal skins used for their clothing.
The last to be built was probably the Central Temple which has the most complex plan divided into six apses. The main altar is decorated with spiral designs. Underneath it archaeologists found horns and bones of animals and a flint knife. A flat slab with drawings of animals embossed on it was also found.
This shows that animals were slaughtered and then offered in sacrifice to the Goddess of Fertility.
Archaeological excavations have also revealed later reuse of the site. During the Bronze Age the people were more war like and not as religious. The South Temple was used as a cremation cemetery. By the end of the Roman period, 2000 years later, the area was turned into fields for agriculture equipped with water channels, cisterns and buildings.
Today the cemetery is still used by the Tarxien community and is part of the Tarxien Parish where it is adjacent to the parish church.
Closed on 24, 25 and 31st December, 1 st January and Good Friday.
Getting there: By car drive up to Paola and to Tarxien passing through the main road. You will see various signs indicating the location.
Public Transport: Public Transport bus – any bus passing through Paola. Both the Hypogeum and Tarxien Temples are very close, there are only a few bus stages from each other. For the temples stop at Neolitici. The road name is Triq Hal-Tarxien.
Address: Neolithic Temples Street, Tarxien TXN 1063
Eating: Various snack bars are located at Paola main Square area beside the parish church about 5 minutes walk from the Temples.
Hop-On Hop-Off Routes: The Red South Route for both sightseeing operators namely Malta Sightseeing & City Sightseeing Malta pass from here with a stop at the main road a minute walk to the temples.
Closest Village: Paola is the closest village. Today Paola and Tarxien are jointed together due to population growth.
Cultural Attractions close by: