Catch the first sunrise of winter at Mnajdra Temples

Here’s your chance to welcome winter in style – but you’ll have to wake up early!

Heritage Malta is inviting you to watch the first sunrise of winter at Malta’s amazing Mnajdra Temples.

Mnajdra is one of the oldest free-standing structures in the world – older than Stonehenge in Wiltshire and the Pyramids in Egypt – dating back to 3600 B.C.

The Winter Solstice on Saturday 21 December marks the shortest day of the year and is the first day of winter.

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You’ll be able to watch the sun rise as the first rays light up the very edge of a megalith found along the passage connecting the first pair of chambers to the inner chambers.

Since the people who built these temples are thought to have been farmers, their livelihood depended on agriculture and the changing seasons had a special significance to them.

Historians believe celebrations to mark the start of winter have taken place at Mnajdra since ancient times.

Where are the Mnajdra Temples?

Mnajdra is located in an isolated position on a rugged stretch of Malta’s southern coast, overlooking the isle of Fifla.

It is some 500m away from the Hagar Qim Temples. Both sites are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The site consists of three buildings facing a common oval forecourt. The oldest structure dates back to 3600 BC.


How do I take part?

The meeting point is outside the Hagar Qim visitor centre at 6.30am.

The price is €25 per person, €15 for Heritage Malta members.

Tickets are available from Heritage Malta sites and museums, and online.

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Why does the Winter Solstice happen?

It happens when the North Pole is tilted furthest away from the sun as the Earth continues on its orbit – which is why it’s winter in the Northern hemisphere at this time of the year.

The Winter Solstice has been celebrated in cultures the world over for thousands of years.

In the olden days it was known as Yule, and was a celebration of light and the rebirth of the Sun.

‘Yule’ is still celebrated in Germany and Scandinavia, and this is where we get many many of our Christmas customs, including Christmas trees and putting wreaths on the front door.

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