5,500 years old and still winning awards. If it’s a while since you visited Ggantija, it’s time you returned.
When I first visited the Ggantija Temples near Xaghra, you had the run of the place, free to clamber in, around and over every nook and cranny. It probably wasn’t the best way to conserve a relic that predates Stonehenge, but it certainly gave you a very tactile sense of its neolithic world.
What was missing was information. A board here or there hardly seemed suitable for a site worthy of so much more. So a few years ago plans were unveiled for an ‘Interpretation Centre’ at the entrance to the site.
Nowadays, the Ggantija Temples are a little less open to abuse from mine and a million other walking boots (although you still have remarkable freedom to explore compared to, say, Stonehenge where you’re kept at distance). Happily, though, the Interpretation Centre more than compensates. In recognition of its immersive brand of information, the centre has received a Highly Commended Tourism Award by the British Guild of Travel Writers.
The announcement took place during the Guild's annual awards dinner at the Savoy Hotel in London. The Interpretation Centre was one of the three finalists in its category of Best European Tourism Project.
As Malta’s Independent newspaper notes: “The Ggantija project was nominated because of the strengths and successes it has presented within the local tourism industry.”
Juliet Rix, the travel writer who nominated the site for its award, said the Interpretation Centre had managed to combine "academic accuracy with completely accessible presentation" and "has turned difficult-to-understand ancient stones into a window onto an extraordinary early people".
Gozo is full of archaeological treasures, but the Ggantija Temples are its crowning glory. You can find more about visiting them here.