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Mnajdra and Ħagar Qim - A view from our expert author
The atmospheric Mnajdra Temple © Clive Vella, www.viewingmalta.com
Mnajdra and Ħaġar Qim sit in an idyllic location well away from Malta’s urban sprawl.
Mnajdra and Ħaġar Qim are the most atmospheric temples to visit. They sit in an idyllic location well away from Malta’s urban sprawl, surrounded by blue sea, grey rock and, in spring, greenery and flowers. The view from a distance is now disturbed by two vast cream-coloured canopies that have been built to protect the temples from sun and rain, but there can be no doubt that this was necessary, and in some ways they enhance the visitor’s experience. These are the first temples to be the subject of a concerted effort to both conserve the buildings and make the temples more accessible to visitors. The European Regional Development Fund has ploughed €4.7 million into the project, funding the creation of a new visitor centre (well tucked into the landscape so that it does not intrude too much) as well as the protective canopies. The visitor centre contains an attractive but uninformative audiovisual presentation and a very informative exhibition focusing on the interpretation, construction and use of the temples. There are also loos here (but no café) and a children’s room and free children’s activity sheets. Mnajdra and Ħaġar Qim are separate but neighbouring temple complexes, now with one visitor entrance. It is not clear in what way they were originally connected but we do know that they were used simultaneously and right up until the end of the Temple period (2500BC). They are, however, quite different from each other: the Mnajdra temples show well-preserved examples of many of the common characteristics of Malta’s temples, while Ħaġar Qim has some very unusual features. A pleasant 500m stroll separates the two; Mnajdra is usually less busy because coach parties often don’t make it that far.