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The Megalithic Temples of Malta

Malta has been called an open-air museum, and with good reason. Although the archipelago’s Mediterranean climate, energetic nightlife, and rich flora and fauna are certainly attractions in their own right, the centuries-old dungeons, palaces, and cathedrals make their mark on tourists, as well. Among the historic structures you'll see on your Malta holidays are the Megalithic Temples, ancient rock constructions. Some of the temples were built in the Copper Age, the period when men began using metal tools. Others date back to the Bronze Age, when metalworking was more common.

Tucked beneath the cliffs of the Island of Malta are the Mnajdra temples, where some of the best examples of ancient craftsmanship can be seen. Also overlooking the sea are the temples of Hagar Qim, where the “Fat Lady” stone statues, with their sloping shoulders, rounded hips, and curved legs, were discovered. These are now in the National Museum of Archaeology. Plans are currently underway for a visitors' centre at Hagar Qim and Mnajdra, which will include a cafeteria, audiovisual area, and open-air theatre.

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The structures at Skorba are possibly residences or religious temples. The temples at Tarxien stand out for their adornments, some of which are patterns, spirals, and carvings of animals. One of these was also used as a crematorium. Well-preserved temples can be found at Ta' Hagrat.

Hop on a ferry or a sea plane to get to the Island of Gozo, where the temples of Ġgantija are located. They are so huge, the locals once believed they were built by giants. The name actually means “giant” in Maltese. Each temple is made up of five alcoves joined by a passage leading to the central trefoil, which is describe as three arcs arranged into a circle.

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