The city of temples – Tarxien
Tarxien is a small town in the southern part of Malta, only 4.5 km away from the capital city of Valletta, it is famous among people interested in history and archeology, since it has a perfect and well-preserved archaeological heritage.
What to see in Tarxien:
Tarxien Temples consist of a complex of four megalithic structures built between 3600 and 2500 BC and re-used between 2400 and 1500 BC. Of the oldest structure, the Easternmost Temple (3600-3200 BC), only the lower part of the walls survove, but it is still possible to see its concave facade and five chambers.
The other three structures were build between 3150 and 2500 BC. The South Temple is rich in prehistoric art, including relief sculpture depicting spirals and animals and the remains of a large statue of a human figure wearing a pleated skirt. The animals depicted include goats, bulls, pigs and ram – domesticated animals which bred at the time.
The large number of animal bonesdiscovered in these temples, most of which were stored in special niches, indicates that animals also played an important role in the rituals which took place in these buildings.
A small ‘oracle’ hole in the East Temple gives access to a small enclosed space outside its walls. The last of the four to be build, the Central Temple, has a unique six-chambered plan and contains evidence of roofing.
Passage to four of its six rooms was bloked by a slab with a double – spiral design suggesting that this part of the building was accessible to only a part of the community. A large hearth in the main apses and a smaller one beyound the double – spiral slab, are evidence of the use of fire in the structure.
Although we know little of what took place within these buildings, they were most probably an important communal centre for social, religious, political and economic activities.
Working time: from 9.00 to 17.00 (the last visitors are admitted at 16.30), ticket price EUR 6.
Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum – necropolis, the only prehistoric underground temple in the world, numerous archaeological finds were discovered during the excavations: pots, jewellery (amulets, bracelets), figures depicting animals, and also bones of more than seven thousand people, the famous “Sleeping Lady” figurine was also found here. The Ħal Saflieni underground consists of three floors, which include halls, rooms, and tombs. Currently, most archaeological finds are exhibited at the National Museum of Archeology in Valletta.
Ħal Saflieni underground was included in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List in 1980.
In order to visit this site you need to register online: https://booking.heritagemalta.org/ ,since only 10 people are allowed to enter at the same time (not more than 80 visitors per day can enter), such limitation is necessary to maintain the optimum microclimate for the longer preservation of this underground structure. Ticket price is EUR 35.
- The easiest way to travel is to rent a car, but do not forget that driving in Malta is on the left;
- Take the bus No. 81 or No. 82 from Valletta city; it will take you to the temples of Tarxien. The price for a one-time bus ticket is EUR 1.5 for off-season and EUR 2 for the season. If you are going to travel more by public transport, you can save some money if you buy Explore bus card, you can buy it at the airport, prices: 12 one-time bus tickets – EUR 15; not limited 7-day card price is EUR 21. Read more about bus routes and Explore cards here.
- Like in many European cities, when you go by bus and want to get off, it is also necessary to press a button, then the bus driver stops at the next stop;
- Food in the cafes is not cheap, so if the hotel offers breakfast or dinner, be sure to take it;
- It is very convenient to use Hop On – Hop Off buses in Malta, daily ticket price is EUR 15-20;
- What to eat in Malta: traditional meal in the country is a rabbit stew and a non-alcoholic orange drink “Kinnie”. Definitely try other dishes: Pastizzi – puff pastry pies with ricotta cheese, Aljotta – fish soup, Bragioli – beef rolls, Lampuki – fish pie, Bigilla – mashed beans paste with garlic, Hobz biz-zejt – bread sprinkled with olive oil and rubbed with ripe tomatoes, with tuna, onion, garlic and сapers paste, Qara Twil Mimli – stuffed pumpkin or long vegetable marrow, Soppa ta’l-armla – “widow’s” soup (with vegetables, eggs and cheese).
- Popular alcoholic beverages: light beer – “Cisk”, wine, cactus liqueur.
- If you want to stay in this city, choose your lodging for the night: Anthony’s Home Stay