I’ve lived in England for more than a decade by now but I’ve never yet made it to Stonehenge or the stone circles of Avebury. We did set off to see them once, hiring a car for the occasion, only for one of the kids to fall ill on the very day. Instead of a day out at Stonehenge we merely managed an expensive tour of London’s major roads; and we didn’t discuss visiting Stonehenge since.
The truth is that much as I like history, neolithic monuments don’t set my pulse racing. Somehow – I can’t help feeling – our stone age ancestors didn’t manage to do quite as many interesting things as the Phoenicians or leave as pretty ruins as the Greeks. Nevertheless, if you ever go to Malta, where there’s an awful lot of history crammed into a very small area, you could do worse than take a couple of hours to visit the megalithic temples of Hagar Qim. Dating from 3600-3200 B.C., they are a tad older than Stonehenge – and there’s just a bit more than a stone circle to see.
The chief attraction of Hagar Qim is a temple standing on a hilltop, overlooking the sea: in the distance you can see the small island of Filfla and watchtowers of the Knights of St John along the coast. Even to the most untutored eye, the temple is clearly recognisable as a building with doorways, windows, rooms and passageways, albeit minus a roof. And not only the size of the megaliths or the way the builders fitted them together is pretty impressive but some of the megaliths are decorated by carvings. Outside the temple more megaliths lie in piles and further down the hill there’s another temple.
Link: More information, including opening hours and tickets, on the Heritage Malta website: Hagar Qim Temples.