Last Updated on: 14th December 2023, 08:03 am

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tarxien temples fat lady goddess

Tour Malta’s Prehistoric Monuments

  • ? Action-packed tour visits three ancient sites: Tarxien Temples, Mnajdra and Hagar Qim Temples
  • ? Visit two villages: Marsaxlokk and Wied iz-Zurrieq
  • ? Private transportation, air-conditioned vehicle with wifi on board
  • ? Map of the islands
  • ? Duration: 7 hours
  • ?Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (201 reviews)

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Are you aware that there are still freestanding structures older than the Giza pyramids you can visit nowadays? Welcome to Malta, home to many of these prehistoric megalithic structures!

tarxien temples stone passageway people

The Hal Tarxien Prehistoric Complex is now protected by a canopy, as its original roofing no longer exists

Unlocking the Mysteries of the Tarxien Temples in Malta

The megalithic Tarxien Temples in Malta are considered one of the oldest free-standing stone structural complexes in the world. Dating back 5,500 years between 3600 BC and 2500 BC, the two interconnected temples provide remarkable insights into the prehistoric culture that constructed these elaborate stone-cut architectures.

Don’t miss a chance to take a glimpse into our prehistoric past on the Mediterranean island of Malta!

This article shares everything you need to know to plan your visit to the Hal Tarxien Temples like a travel professional. While here, check out my roundup article of the best things to see in Malta.

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site and prominent tourist destination, the Tarxien Temples should be on every visitor’s Maltese sightseeing list for an intriguing glimpse into Malta’s Neolithic heritage.

tarxien temples fat lady goddess

Tarxien Temples detail – Here’s the ‘fat lady of Malta’ considered to be a fertility figure (because of its curvy shape) – this figure was found inside the Western Temple

An Exceptional Archeological Wonder

The Tarxien Temple site contains two temples intricately carved from stone in the unique form of Maltese megalithic architecture. It is one of the most complex and developed existing temple groups found in Malta.

The impressive surviving remains feature rich decorative stone relief carvings of spirals, plants, domestic animals, and other intricate designs that would have required highly skilled craftsmanship using the most basic of Bronze Age tools. Over 35 carved limestone statues and relief slabs were also discovered, suggesting the temples’ use in fertility rites and worship.

As one of only six Megalithic Temple sites inscribed on the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage list, the immense historical value of the Tarxien Temples cannot be overstated for such a small Mediterranean country. The temples stand today as a hallmark and definitive representation of the pinnacle achievements of temple art and construction in Prehistoric Malta.

Read my article about the Ggantija Temples on Gozo, Malta’s little sister island. I highly recommend you to visit Tarxien first, then go to Ggantija, where you can also find a neat archaeological museum. Tarxien also has a museum, but it is smaller than the one at Ggantija.

tarxien temples prehistoric amphora

Prehistoric amphora in the Tarxien Temples

Transport and Access for Visitors

The Tarxien Temples site is conveniently located in the town of Tarxien in the South Eastern Region of Malta, only a short drive from the capital Valletta. There is ample parking around the temple grounds for those driving themselves.

The site is also accessible by Malta’s extensive public bus system, with multiple buses running the route directly to Tarxien town regularly each day. Private transfers from your Malta hotel to the temples are another transportation option.

With easy access from most areas around Malta, the impressive Tarxien Temples should be on every visitor’s must-see itinerary while on the island.

tarxien temples overview

Some of the structures inside the Tarxien temples are very nicely preserved

Tarxien Temples Visiting Hours

The Tarxien Temples are open daily for visitors between 9 AM to 5 PM, with last admission at 4:30 PM.

It is recommended to arrive earlier in the day to avoid larger tour groups and afternoon heat during the summer.

Peak days tend to be Wednesdays when many local students visit and weekends when more leisure tourists come. Early morning hours on other days tend to see smaller crowds to enjoy the complex at a more relaxed pace before bigger groups arrive.

No advance booking is required for general admission tickets purchased on-site. Guided group tours can be booked ahead online from certain Malta tour providers for more in-depth explanations if desired.

tarxien temples stone spiral carving-boats

The spiral carvings could be a graphical representation of waves

Key Sites to See On the Temple Grounds

The South Temple, constructed between 3600 BC and 3200 BC, is the largest and most ornate of the two temple structures. The multiple rooms contain exquisitely preserved spiral carvings, animal reliefs, and niche decorations. Don’t miss the Owl Room considered one of the most intricate interiors.

The Central Temple, built around 3000 BC, connects to the South Temple through a middle doorway. Look for the altar slab with horns and sacrificial offering indentations and the relief sculpture of two bulls.

The site museum houses the most significant recovered temple artifacts like the iconic Maltese Fat Lady figurines believed to represent fertility goddesses.

Allow about 30 minutes to one hours to fully walk through and visually explore the expansive temple grounds and museum collection for a glimpse into the rituals and lifestyles of ancient Maltese temple builders.

tarxien temples round stones

Rounded boulders served as prehistoric “wheels” for the workers to move stone slabs around the construction site – I guess they left their tools behind once the job had been done

Rules For Responsible Visiting

As an actively preserved archeological site, visitors to the Tarxien Temples are required to follow some rules to minimize any damage over time with thousands of yearly visitors.

Do NOT touch any temple walls or carvings. Oils from human hands can slowly degrade the intricate carvings. Photography without flash is allowed and encouraged to capture your visit.

Dress appropriately without excessively revealing clothing to respect local cultural norms. Sturdy shoes should be worn as well for the uneven stone temple floors.

Visitors are asked to speak in hushed voices inside the temple interiors out of respect for other visitors and to maintain the sense of history. Guide your children not to run around delicate areas.

By following these simple site rules, visitors to the temples can responsibly enjoy and help conserve Malta’s incredible prehistoric legacy at Tarxien for future generations.

tarxien temples entrance

There’s a visitor deck leading you through the remains of Tarxien temples, so you won’t have to step on the prehistoric stones

The Tarxien Temples stand as one of the most significant and well-preserved cases of cultural heritage from the mysterious Temple Period of Maltese history roughly 5,500 years ago.

Remember to add this landmark to your Malta bucket list! You’ll be glad you’ve don it!

Violeta Matei