Along with other world-famous megaliths of Malta, Ta’ Hagrat temple complex is recognized as one of World Heritage Sites protected by UNESCO from 1992. For almost a hundred years the archeological site keeps up amazing visitors with enormous limestone blocks that were used by primitive tribes of the region for building the prehistoric sanctuary.
A Neolithic settlement located on the outskirts of modern Mgarr, a small village to the west of Mosta, dates back to 3800-3600 BC. Several centuries later, two temples were built there, now known as Ta’ Ħaġrat, one of the oldest sanctuaries in the world. Archaeologists established that the major temple was constructed in 3600-3200 BC and thus it falls into Ggantija phase, while the minor sanctuary was built 300-600 years later, during Saflieni phase of Maltese prehistory. The earlier megalith structure features trefoil plan with a corridor leading into a central court and three semi-circular chambers. A concave facade strikes with its tremendous doorway supplemented by a bench and a couple of steps. The minor structure adjoins the temple and has more irregular and simpler four apses design, also being constructed from smaller stones. Both structures were built of local coralline limestone, roughly finished and with no decoration that marks the Ta’ Ħaġrat temples out from other megalithic constructions of Malta.
The excavation of the complex started in 1923 and lasted for 3 years guided by famous Maltese archaeologist and historian Temi Zammit, who was the first chief of the Maltese National Museum of Archaeology. Later, there were another two excavations, in 1954 and 1961, and reconstruction of the temple doorway and facade in 1937. During the excavation, some prehistoric pottery was found, as well as an extremely curious artifact, representing a small sanctuary model made of limestone. The model gives us an idea of how the megaliths looked thousands of years ago and speaks for primitive people’s handicraft.
Today, the Ta’ Ħaġrat temples is an open-air museum that shows rather well-preserved massive structures making an indelible impression on tourists. The trilithon entrance is a favorite place for taking a souvenir photo that looks especially expressive on the background of a nearby Mgarr parish church. A view to another side of the site provides a glimpse of the prehistoric landscape, since it has remained almost unchanged over time.