The modern Malta has a very charming character - the painted doors, the old buses, the colorful boats with the Maltese Eye pictured on them, the busy bustling markets, the glass blowers studios and workshops, the cliffs and beaches, the blue sea - to name only the most obvious ones! We have been there in spring and nature was splendid, with a huge variety of wildflowers, very similar to those we have in Israel, and we had a wonderful half day walk through the Dingli Cliffs along the sea and through blooming meadows. The food is delicious, Hobz biz-zejt (a kind of tuna sandwich with tomatoes and olive oil) and fenek (rabbit) with pasta, together with a glass of cool Cisk, the local brewn beer, were our favorites!
Big stone vessels were found and of course the gorgeous Maltese stone sculptures, some of them very large and voluptuous in size. The headless one from Tarxien, which would have been about 2 m in height with the upper parts.
And the "Venus of Malta", found in Hagar Qim, also headless, opulent but petty, 13 cm in height.
And several more statues were found in Hagar Qim, this one is 21 cm high.
The so called "Fat Lady" is the most famous, found in the Hagar Qim temple too, carved from limestone she has a hollow socket at the top, which suggests that a separately worked head was inserted. She is 51 cm high and sold as reproductions to the tourists, as you can evidently see! :-)
As I already said, the interior chambers of the temples are small and could hold only a few people, therefore big public worship would not have been possible. Maybe those ceremonies of reverencing the Mother Goddess were intended only for the priestesses and non cleric population did not participate. Fertility rites are usually associated with women and were assumable carried out by female priests, but statues of male priests have been found in the temples as well.
There could be so much more told about this sunny country. We visited many of the small cities and villages, the market in Marsaxlokk, Birzebbuga, which has a marvelous sandy beach, but also a big port for container ships, the quiet Mdina with the medieval flair, the catacombs in Rabat, the biggest and very touristic city Sliema with its wonderful and much frequented beach promenade. Of course we went with the ferry to Gozo, a fascinating gem of an island, and adored the Azure Window, a giant, 50m high natural scenic rock arch, with the blue "azure" sea below and behind it!
We strolled through Mgarr, Ghajnsielem, and walked around in the temples of Ggantija near Xaghra, they are the most ancient. In Xaghra itself we searched out the Ta'Kola Windmill. High up the Calypso cave is overlooking the beach of Ramla I-Hamra. It is said to be the cave where the beautiful nymph Calypso held Odysseus as a 'prisoner of love' for seven years. Well Homer can not be asked anymore about the exact location, but of course we had to have a look inside, and what we saw was not very impressive!
There is much more to report about Malta, but somehow I have to end this post!
About the marvelous Hypogeum in Paola and the cave in Ghar Dalam I still will write the next days.