Mnajdra is Hagar Qim's sister temple. Or so it seems. At a distance of a few hunderd meters apart from each other, they must have something to do with each other. The view you have on Mnajdra while you walk down the (new) road from Hagar Qim to Mnajdra is unforgetable: the sea in the back, Filfla to your left and the temple in the glorious Maltese sun... it's breathtaking!
More complexes were found built in pairs: Tarxien and Hal Saflieni, Skorba and Ta' Hagrat and finally Tal Qadi and Bugibba. In her book "People of the Temples" (fiction) Linda Eneix suggests that men and women had separate temples but interacted closely. It seems a likely presumption, but we'll probably never know.
Mnajdra was cleaned of debris for the first time by C. Lenormant in 1840 CE. In 1910, T. Ashby excavated the remaining intact parts. Further remains came to light during the conservation and restoration works that the Museum Department undertook between 1952 and 1954. The small temple was the first to be built, and the middle one the last. The site dates from 3600 - 2500 BCE.
To me, Mnajdra is more magical than here 'big sister': the temple site is not wired and you can go and see in every corner you like. Unfortunately not everyone knows how to handle such freedom, as you can see on the picture aside.
Mnajdra is made up of two sizeable temples and a small trefoil unit similar to the tiny priests' quarters of Hagar Qim. The middle temple (estimated age 3400 BCE) is a regular four-apse structure. The standing blocks or orthostats which frame the circular building are neatly cut and placed together as at Tarxien central temple. The stone courses over the orthostats are also skillfully laid and their concave form is indicative of a domed roof which is now missing.
The ruins of Mnajdra yielded valuable relics - stone and clay statuettes, shell and stone ornaments, flint tools and decorated earthenware. The lack of any metal object is evidence enough of the neolithic origin of this and of the other similar temples.
Mnajdra, just like Hagar Qim, is built to match the sun's alignment: The sunrise at the beginning (or ending) of every season enters into the temple of Mnajdra and lights up the interior of the building. The summer solstice ray of sunlight, lights up the edge of a megalith on the left of the entrance chamber. Likewise, on the winter solstice, the sun beam arrives on a twin megalith on the right of the entrance chamber. On the Equinox days the sunlight goes into the temple and its beam lights up the main axis of the temple.
On Friday the 13th, Good Friday 2001, at around 11pm it was discovered that the temples of Mnajdra had been vandalized by unknown persons. A cut in the fence surrounding the temples was found at the back of the site.
‘Mnajdra is to Malta, what the Pyramids are to Egypt, the Mona Lisa to Paris, the Coliseum to Rome and Stonehenge to England.’ So ran an editorial comment feature in Maltatoday of 15 April a Sunday, just two days after this splendid historical site was vandalised.
Newspapers columns commented that ‘damage is four times that wrought by the storms’. And little wonder when, during the night of Good Friday some 60 megalithic stones at the Mnajdra prehistoric temple site were damaged by what was described by a museums department official as the worst criminal act ever inflicted on Maltese heritage. In 1992 the megalithic temple had been inscribed on the World Heritage List, together with the temples of Hagar Qim and Tarxien, plus the temple of Ggantija which had been inscribed back in 1980.