By Freddy Silva
It is said one need not travel far to see great things. This is often the case when we plan great journeys to take us to the opposite ends of the Earth while forgetting that worlds of wonder can exist a few miles from our own doorstep. While this generalism is true, it does not apply to the islands of Gozo and Malta.
Once linked to nearby Sicily via a limestone land bridge, these tiny jewels surrounded by a deep blue Mediterranean boast more places of worship per square mile than pubs in Dublin. The same is true of its ancient temples, which far outnumber the requirements of a small population. Why did the ancient temple builders come here in droves? Was there some inherent force in this spec of earth that compelled them to travel south from Italy, north from Africa, east from Iberia, and west from Greece?
And it’s not just the peculiar mix of Arab, English, Phoenician, Greek and old Hebrew that makes this place so unusual: enigmas abound in Malta. Its temples are placed in 3000 BC yet evidence supports their erection as far back as 9000 BC; the latterday religion shuns the pagan past yet its churches are designed with the same eastern portholes that allow the light of the rising sun to shine upon their altars; its above-ground temples are unique, they are mirrored in the negative by adjacent underground replicas; one such temple, the Hypogeum, sits 200 ft. above the sea yet it once was overwhelmed by gigantic tidal waves, the result of a cataclysmic volcanic event or a Biblical flood; cut off from mainland Italy, the local fauna developed unique species such as dwarf hippos and pygmy elephants; human skulls have also been found to be strangely elongated at the rear, much like those of the ‘tall ones’ buried in ceremonial mounds in the British Isles; mysterious ‘cart ruts’ criss-cross the island yet they run to the edge of cliffs then continue under the sea!
It is not surprising, then, why some people should have associated the Maltese archipelago with Plato’s lost Atlantis.
From skeletons of pygmy elephants to weather-worn megalith temples; from the labyrinth streets of medieval Medina to the majestic palisades of Templar Valletta; from a modest hermit’s cave to the soaring great dome of Mosta cathedral, this tiny country is a study in humanity’s quest to connect with the spirit of the land.
Finding the Maltese archipelago on a map is an adventure in itself, like looking for lost treasure, but no matter where you will be traveling from, Malta is one of those places far from home you need to visit, even if to return and say, “Well, you don’t see that around here!”
From Goddess Temples to the Knights of the Temple
Journey to Malta with Freddy Silva
12-19 April 2012
For more information click here: Great Mystery.org.
Photo credit: Dwejra, Gozo by Michael Medford, National Geographic