CULTURAL SITES FOR ALL
Heritage Malta takes us on a journey of all things cultural. From temples to palaces, to caves, no stone in Malta (and Gozo) is left unturned
Don’t be fooled by the Maltese Islands’ diminutive size. In each corner, there is a story to tell. Be it archaeology, art, history, military, maritime, or nature, Heritage Malta’s sites and museums suit any and all of these interests.
Starting from the pre-historic temples, which are older than the Egyptian pyramids, visitors can choose from six sites which all form part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. The spectacular, megalithic structures of the temples of Ħagar Qim, Mnajdra, Tarxien Temples, Skorba, Ta’ Ħagrat and Ġgantija represent phenomenal cultural, artistic and technological developments in a very early period in human life.
Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum in Paola, an intriguing prehistoric burial site, which bears a unique testimony to a cultural tradition that has disappeared, has also made it to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Paintings in red ochre that decorate some of the walls within the site are the oldest and only pre-historic paintings recorded on the Islands. is burial theme is accompanied by Ta’ Bistra catacombs in Mosta and St Paul’s catacombs in Rabat, Malta.
Għar Dalam in Birżebbuga is Malta’s oldest pre-historic site. Bones of Ice Age animals, which were recovered from the cave itself are exhibited in old Victorian style displays. The exhibits also include fossil remains of dwarf elephants and hippopotami.
A captivating selection of museums are housed within historical auberges and fine buildings that were constructed by the Order of St John and the British Authorities, when they ruled the country.
The two formidable fortresses of Fort St Angelo in Birgu and Fort St Elmo in Valletta are witnesses of the Islands’ turbulent history. Nowadays, they offer spectacular panoramic views of the Grand Harbour and its surrounding fortified towns. The latter fort hosts within it the National War Museum.
The Domus Romana in Rabat, Malta, and the Palace State Rooms and Palace Armoury in Valletta speak of grandeur and refined quality that existed on the Islands throughout different periods. On the other hand, the Gran Castello Historic House is a cluster of medieval houses at the Citadel in Victoria, Gozo, that illustrate the local domestic, rural and traditional ways of life.
The Inquisitor’s Palace in Birgu is another architectural gem and one of the very few surviving buildings of its kind. It represents a particular religious setting in Malta when the Church played a substantial role in the inhabitants’ lives. The austere setting of the Holy Office Tribunal, the prison complex, and the torture chamber say it all.