There are three UNESCO World Heritage sites found on the Maltese Islands; the Megalithic Temples, the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum and the City of Valletta.
The Megalithic Temples of Malta (Ġgantija, Ħaġar Qim, Mnajdra, Skorba, Ta’ Ħaġrat and Tarxien) rank amongst the earliest free-standing stone buildings in the world, constructed between 3600 BC and 700 BC. The two temples of Ġgantija on the island of Gozo are notable for their gigantic Bronze Age structures. The Ġgantija Temples are the oldest, free-standing monuments in the world, created 1,000 years before the famous Egyptian pyramids of Giza.
Each monument is a unique architectural masterpiece and a witness to an exceptional prehistoric culture renowned for its remarkable architectural, artistic and technological achievements. The temple builders used locally available stone; hard coralline limestone for external walls and the softer globigerina limestone for the sheltered interiors and decorative elements.
Mnajdra Temples, Zurrieq, Malta
Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum
The Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, discovered in 1902, stands on a hill overlooking the innermost part of the Grand Harbour of Valletta in the town of Paola. The prehistoric monument, in use from 4000 BC to 2500 BC, was previously a sanctuary as well as an underground cemetery which originally contained the remains of 7,000 individuals.
The ‘labyrinth’, as it’s often referred to, is made up of three floors consisting of a series of elliptical chambers. Some of the walls and ceilings of the chambers are decorated with spiral honeycomb designs in red ochre, a mineral pigment.
Access to the historical site is limited to 10 people per tour, there are 6 tours per day and just 2 of these are bookable on the day. It’s recommended to book tickets up to a month in advance online to ensure you visit this incredible site whilst exploring the Maltese Islands!
City of Valletta
Valletta, Malta’s capital is a fortified Renaissance city located on a hilly peninsula between two of the finest natural harbours in the Mediterranean. The Knights of St John conceived and planned the city using a uniform grid plan within fortified and bastioned walls. Valletta is home to over 320 monuments that encompass every aspect of the civil, religious, artistic and military functions of its renowned founders. This includes the magnificent 16th century cathedral of St John; the interior of St John’s Co-cathedral is considered to be one of the finest examples of high Baroque architecture in Europe.