The last time I was here the temples they were still being repaired after they were horrifically damaged by hunters at Easter 2001. The temples were fenced in locked up and no amount of pleading could get me through the gates. I had to satisfy myself with a mooch around the perimeter and a prolonged sit on the hillside behind the monuments.
As I walked up to the gated perimeter fence that separates the Hagar Qim temples from the path to Mnajdra I noticed some men working, as I got close to them I could see that they were putting razor wire onto the top of the already substantial fence. The temples have survived the ravages of time, environmental collapse and a couple of thousand years of conquest and invasion. It's extremely saddening that these unique structures, the oldest stone built structures in the world, have to be protected against the all too real threat of vandalism by local people. I won't let this dishearten me, today is my temple day.
On the hillside between Hagar Qim and Mnajdra are a series of deep cavities that have been carved into the rock which are known as the Misqa Tanks It is thought that they were used as water cisterns for the prehistoric community in this area. It is possible to walk up to the tanks but today, despite having plenty of time, I declined not to do so. Today was not not a day for traipsing, I had to remain true to my purpose.
Hagar Qim is a spectacular site but Mnajdra is where I want to be.
Mnajdra is a difficult site to get your head around. It is actually three temples facing into a common oval forecourt.
The smallest and oldest temple is to your right as you approach the site. It is described as a simple trefoil of the Ggantija phase. The second and third temples are of the four apse form and that's about as technical as I'll get.
I sat down and let the pure, deep joy of this place wash over me. The temples are nestled into a hollow in the hillside when you look uphill you see an endless blue sky, when you look downhill you see an expanse of deep blue sea. If you walk from the sea to the sky you will find the temples tucked into their niche somewhere in the middle. Each temple is a different experience but it is all held together by the land and seascape. The Temples, the hillside, the sea, it's just all too perfect.
If you ever fortunate enough to visit Mnajdra, I would strongly urge you to go there as early in the morning as possible and try to experience the place without the distraction of strangers.
Mnajdra is one of the few places on earth that really reaches down inside of me. I'm afraid I'm not eloquent enough to elaborate on the feelings and emotions that this place provokes, so apart from adding a few comments to my photographs I'll leave it at.
The beautiful gnarly exterior. The naturally holed stones have their man-made counterparts within the temple.
An oracle hole. There is a secret chamber behind this one.
Another oracle hole next to a 'portholed' side chamber
A libation pit. These pits are commonly found on the steps of temples and chambers throughout the islands.
Filfla is never far from view
Lovely, lovely pitting
An inner apse
The Temple carving.
The location of the carving can be seen just beside the entrance on the picture above of the inner apse.
Posted by fitzcoraldo
13th May 2006ce
Edited 13th May 2006ce
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