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Ggantija Temples Gozo

Ggantija Temples

Ggantija Temples in Xaghra, Gozo, are one of the most important archaeological sites in Malta. The origins of Ggantija date back to the Ggantija phase (3600 – 3200 B.C.). John Otto Bayer was the first to excavate the temples in 1827. Extensive archaeological and restoration work was carried out in the early 20th century to ensure their preservation. The Ggantija megalithic complex consists of two temples surrounded by a massive common boundary wall. One of the most striking features of the entire complex, the boundary wall, is built using the alternating header and stretcher technique, with some of the megaliths exceeding five metres in length and weighing over fifty tons.

Round in shape and containing statues of full-figured goddesses, the Ggantija temples were dedicated to the Great Earth Mother and probably included an oracle. The site was a place of pilgrimage for the ancient inhabitants of Malta.

According to an ancient legend, the temple walls were built in one day and one night by a female giant named Sunsuna, who did it while nursing a baby. Ggantija is Maltese for "giant's grotto."

The Ggantija temples were probably dedicated to the Great Earth Mother, a goddess of fertility. Evidence indicates there was an oracle here, as at the much-later Temple of Apollo at Delphi. A priestess prophesied while in a trance, possessed by the spirit of the goddess. Ggjantija also seems to have been a place to pray for healing.

In ancient times, the temples at Ggantija drew pilgrims from across the island and even from North Africa and Sicily.

Ggantija Aerial View
Aerial View of Ggantija

Resources:


Sacred Destinations - worldwide guide to sacred sites, holy places, pilgrimage destinations, religious architecture and sacred art.

Heritage Malta - Government of Malta agency set up to manage the heritage sites of Malta and Gozo.