Tarxien temples is one of the largest Megalithic temples in Malta with four distinct temples adjoining each other. If you love art and is curious what it was like, this is the place to come. It is the richest and most elaborate in terms of sculptured decoration and iconography a showcase of prehistoric art.
Ironically, they were found by farmers in 1913 as at the time they were buried in debris. The plough used to get stuck in large stone and reported them to the museum of archaeology.
It is located just 500 metres away from Hal Saflieni Hypogeum
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.
The East Temple was the first to be built in the Tarxien Phase (ca. 3000 – 2500 BC), followed by the South and Central Temple.
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.
During 1913 Sir Temi Zammit the director of Museums and Maltese Archaeologist at the time declared that two prehistoric megalithic temples including fragments of pottery were dug up, all this showed that they were from prehistoric times.
Due to increased interest on the local scene again Sir Temi Zammit conducted an archaeological dig (Extensively excavated) between 1915 and 1919.
During these same years stretches of walls that were missing were rebuilt as rubble walls which can still be seen today.
During 1920 the Archaeological Museum undertaken a number of minor interventions to conserve various areas of the site from deteriorating further.
During 1936 adjacent to the already excavated sites new graves were being dug to increase the capacity of Tal-Erwieh cemetery forming part of the Tarxien village, a large Megalith was discovered.
During 1958 more evidence was unearthed due the continuation excavations by JD Evans’s.
Only four years late, Dr. David Trump, who is carrying out further excavations at the site, has discovered the possible rEuse of a chamber as a cellar in Roman times.
Due to the sensitivity of the findings in 1956 thirteen decorated limestone blocks were removed from their original positions and taken inside the National Museum of Archaeology. This was the only way how to preserve them from deteriorating further. Copies were sculptured and positioned instead of them.
For better preservation copies were placed on site. The original blocks in the museum are now in a better state that the modern copies due to the natural deterioration of the natural stone.
During the 1950s, several megaliths were restored with cement application. Now-a-day cement is know to cause damage to limestone but at the time those were the methods applied.
Again during 1950 the main doorway was reconstructed in concrete as it is seen today suggested by the typical trilithon doorway of most temples. This was modelled on fragments of a stone model of a façade discovered in this temple. Still the original formation of the doorway is unknown.
During 2012 a modern elevated walkway was installed to
give the visitor a better viewpoint to appreciate the temples. Inscriptions at
different locations describing that specific area of the temple.
A large protective tent covering the three main temples was erected to shelter the site from natural pollutants within the air apart from continuous change of cooling and heating wetting and drying which cycles harm the soft globigerina limestone deterioration.
These two projects were funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) 2007-2013 as part of the Archaeological Heritage Conservation Project.
Tarxien temples is located very close to Hal Saflieni Hypogeum in Paola. Getting there by car and also by public transport is fairly easy.
Address: Neolithic Temples Street, Tarxien TXN 1063
The temples are located in Neolithic Temples Street in Tarxien. To find the exact location, see the map below.
Getting to Hypogeum is quite easy. Parking close to the premises might be slightly difficult as it is situated in a residential area. A parking area is not available so you will have to go round the neighbouring streets to find.
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.
Various snack bars are located at Paola main Square area beside the parish church about 5 minutes walk from the Temples.
Paola is the closest village. Today Paola and Tarxien are jointed together due to population growth.