Hagar Qim (pronounced Hah-gar-rreem) is a prehistoric site containing the standing remains of two Neolithic temples, Hagar Qim and Mnajdra. These two megalithic buildings were built around 5,000 BC and little is known about their function.
A few days ago myself and a few other international students, studying in Malta on the Erasmus scheme, took a study break and went to visit the temples. The admission fee includes entrance into both temples, the museum as well as a free 4D viewing experience of the Hagar Qim temples.
From the very first glace the temples were unlike any archaeological site I had ever seen. The Hagar Qim and Mnajdra temples stand out within the surrounding landscape as the site is located in an isolated area of countryside not too far from the sea, in fact from some areas the sea is visible.
In comparison to the Hagar Qim temple complex, the Tarxien temples are located within a residential area in a separate part of Malta. I took a visit to the Tarxien temples in order to compare the two sites. I was lucky enough to get free entrance to the Tarxien temples as on the 31st of January all of Malta’s cultural heritage museums and sites are free in celebration of Public Service Week. This was a great chance for me, and many others, to see some of Malta’s cultural heritage.
Over the span of around 1000 years from 3600-2500 BC, four temple complexes were built at Tarxien, making the Tarxien temples late Neolithic in date. What is interesting about Tarxien is that during the Bronze Age the South temples was used as a cremation cemetery and eventually the site was converted into agricultural land during the Roman period. Compared to the Hagar Qim temple complex more is known about the occupation of the Tarxien temple area.
My visits to both temple complexes has widened my view on the Neolithic period in Malta and has given me some ground work before I start my Prehistory of Malta module next semester (starting on the 1st of February) which I am very much looking forward to as learning about Maltese prehistory has been a big aspiration of mine since my very first visit to the island in 2008.
I would recommend that anyone who is in Malta, either on holiday or on an Erasmus year abroad to visit both sites as they are both extremely unique archaeological sites and like nothing I have ever seen before!
You can read a bit more about both sites on the Heritage Malta website found here: http://heritagemalta.org/museums-sites/