The sheer number of archaeological sites on the Maltese Islands sets their history apart from that of other Mediterranean destinations.
One site above all others is special to Malta – the Hypogeum, a labyrinth of underground chambers probably used as both a burial site and a temple. The Islands’ temples qualify as UNESCO World Heritage Sites and are open to the public.There are megalithic monuments, Bronze Age dolmens, Punic tombs, remains of Roman Villas and traces of prehistoric man, which defy explanation, such as the mysterious ‘cart tracks’. For three millennia, from around 5200 B.C., the archipelago was home to a unique, temple-building civilisation. Malta and Gozo’s temples are thought to be the oldest free-standing buildings known to man.
A good place to start your tour is at the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta or the Hypogeum itself.
Borġ in-Nadur Temples
Borġ in-Nadur, Birżebbuġa, Malta
These temples ruins are situated in the southern area of Malta and are important because they appear to reveal not only a four-apse temple (c.2000 BC), but also a fortified, Bronze Age domestic settlement.
Buġibba Ancient Temples
Dawret il-Gżejjer, Buġibba, Malta
The Buġibba Temple, which is preserved in the grounds of the hotel, belongs to the same category of pre-historic monuments as Tarxien and Ħaġar Qim in Malta and Ġgantija in Gozo.
Buskett, limits of Ħad-Dingli, Malta
The most impressive and dense concentration of these cart ruts are on scrubland south of Buskett Gardens, an area known as Clapham Junction.
John Otto Bayer Street, Xagħra, Gozo
Ġgantija Temples are one of the most important archaeological sites in the world and date from around 3600 to 3200 BC. Due to the gigantic dimensions of the megaliths, locals believed that the temples were the work of giants.
Triq Ħagar Qim, Qrendi, QRD 2501, Malta
The temple of Ħaġar Qim (c. 3600 – 3200 BC) stands on a hilltop overlooking the sea and the islet of Filfla. The temple itself consists of a single temple unit, although it is not clear if it was originally constructed as a four or five-apse structure.
Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum
Burial Street, Paola, PLA 1116, Malta
The Hypogeum, or underground cavity, is a unique monument and superb example of architecture in the negative. Excavation has yielded a wealth of archaeological material including pottery, human bones, personal ornaments such as beads and amulets, little carved animals and larger figurines.