Malta: Neolithic Grandeur and Heroic Sieges

Hagar Qim
Hagar Qim
Hagar Qim
Hagar Qim
Hagar Qim
Hagar Qim

A thousand years before the Great Pyramid at Giza was constructed, stones weighing up to 50 tonnes were being moved to create a series of great temples. At 5500 years old, the megalithic temples of Malta and Gozo are among the oldest ritual structures in the world - decorated with some of the most peculiar and suggestive art to be found anywhere in the Mediterranean.

Led by an archaeologist specialising in Maltese history and archaeology, we explore the many ages of Malta: from those ancient temples and into the Mediaeval period. We also spend a day in Valletta, built by the crusading Knights Hospitaller, who defended the island against the all-conquering Ottoman Turks in the great siege of 1565.

  • Explore the Grand Harbour aboard a privately chartered Maltese fishing boat called ‘luzzu’
  • Visit a series of unique Neolithic temples, including private access
  • Discover the secrets of the Knights at the Grand Master’s Palace and gaze in awe at the Grand Master’s Palace

Itinerary 2020

Day 1

We fly to Malta from London and transfer to our hotel.

Hotel: Hotel Excelsior
Meals: Dinner included

Day 2

We begin at the two conjoined temples of Ta’ Ħaġrat at Mġarr, built during the 4th millennium BC. We continue to Skorba, an excavated settlement site which has made a significant contribution to the understanding of early Maltese prehistory. We spend the afternoon at the ancient capital of Malta, Mdina, a walled city with winding streets, it also served as the island’s capital from antiquity through to the Mediaeval period. We move on to Buskett to view the enigmatic ‘cart ruts’ cut into the hillside, features that occur on both Malta and Gozo, worn into the bedrock.

Hotel: Hotel Excelsior
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 3

We enjoy a day exploring Valletta on foot. Founded by the Knights Hospitaller, following the Great Siege of 1565, this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site occupying a commanding position over two harbours. We begin with the exceptional array of artefacts from Malta’s unique prehistory in the Archaeological Museum, up to the end of the Bronze Age. We also visit St John’s Cathedral and the Grand Master’s Palace with façades of some of the many Auberges of the Knights.

Hotel: Hotel Excelsior
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 4

We travel by ferry to the island of Gozo where we visit Ggantija, a prehistoric temple constructed of massive stone blocks, and Xaghra, the stone circle and funerary complex. We have special access to Ta’ Cenc, a prehistoric temple with dolmens and passage graves. This afternoon we travel to Victoria Citadel, the 17th century fortress of Gozo and visible from most of the island. We also visit the Archaeology Museum.

Hotel: Hotel Excelsior
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 5

Back on Malta, we visit the magnificent Hagar Qim and Mnajdra - part of a cluster of temple sites evocatively located on a hillside by the sea. We continue to Tarxien, the most elaborate of all the Maltese Megalithic temples which has undergone extensive excavation. We proceed to the unique Hal Salflieni Hypogeum, where we have private access to this subterranean funerary structure first used in 3600 BC and skilfully carved to resemble a temple. We then travel on to the Ghar Dalam cave, which consists of a water-worn tunnel accessible by humans for about 80m, in which large quantities of Pleistocene faunal remains were found.

Hotel: Hotel Excelsior
Meals: All meals

Day 6

We take a harbour cruise on a chartered ‘luzzu’ or fishing boat in the morning to view the port of Valletta from the sea. Afloat, one can imagine the assembled might of the Ottoman Turkish armada, estimated to contain up to 45,000 men. The siege, which lasted for 4 months in the summer of 1565, was a turning point, which undermined the perceived invincibility of the Ottoman army. We return to shore for free time this afternoon – a chance to visit Maltese churches or to immerse yourself in Maltese culture.

Hotel: Hotel Excelsior
Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 7

Today we take a step forward in time and visit Fort St. Elmo, the fulcrum of the defence of the island in 1565. We will visit the Malta War Museum, which recounts the tale of the siege during the Second World War. The museum contains one surviving example of the three Gloster Gladiator planes, Faith, Hope and Charity, that at one point were the sole air defence. In the afternoon we visit Fort Rinella. Built but the British in the nineteenth century, it contains a 100 tonne Armstrong muzzle loading cannon, one two of the largest such guns ever made.

Hotel: Hotel Excelsior
Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 8

Our departure day and we transfer to the airport for our flight home.

Meals: Breakfast is included

Travel the ancient world in the company of expert archaeologists and historians from the finest universities.

Andante Travels has been a leading specialist in cultural travel almost three decades and we are very pleased to be working with Oxford and Cambridge in the UK to create these programmes exclusively for alumni. Fascinating journeys to beautifully-situated ancient sites, in the company of erudite and articulate experts and like-minded fellow travellers - what could be better?

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2020 Tour Details

Mon 20th Apr - Mon 27th Apr

Available

$3,260

without flights

sgl supp: $715

OXM20A

Led By: Prof Caroline Malone

Guide Lecturer

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