Place of Giants, Xaghra Tourist Attractions
At Xaghra is the most impressive Neolithic temple in the whole of the Maltese Archipelago, known as the Ggantija (Place of Giants) from the massiveness of the stones used in its construction. It dates from about 3600 B.C.Xaghra boasts the most enchanting village square on the island and the twisty hairpin road up to the plateau is lined with pink and white oleander trees. This was probably the de facto capital of the island in ancient times and was certainly the site of man's first efforts to cultivate Gozo.The Ggantija temples are nearby, as is Calypso's Cave.
The two prehistoric structures known as Ggantija are the most impressive and well-preserved of the temples on the Maltese islands. Along with Ta Hagrat and Skorba in Malta, they are believed to be the oldest free-standing monuments in the world. And although they lack the fine artistic treasures of the later Tarxien temples, they make up for it with brute size. The complex itself is well-kept and colorful, lined with wild bougainvillea and flower beds.The temples date back to the Ggantija phase (3600-3200 B.C. of the Copper Age) and were first formally and badly excavated in 1827. The site is composed of two similar structures (one with five apses, the other with four) and the whole is enclosed by a shared outer wall of megalithic proportions. The outer walls were made from hard coralline limestone; softer, more versatile, globigerina limestone was used for the inside walls. A roof, which has not survived, would have covered the structures.The large temple is the older of the two and is oriented southeast. The southerly five-apsed temple has, in contrast to any similar structure on the islands, smaller outer than inner apses. It also has the largest threshold slab of the temples. The left-hand of the two inner apses is stirring, with its six-meter-high walls curving inward. It was here that the snake relief-carving now on display in the Gozo Archeological Museum was found. The central apse is raised higher and has similar pitted decoration to that at Tarxien. To the rear, two stone heads believed to belong to the headless female "Fat" deities were discovered in the niche. These are on display in Valletta's Archeological Museum.On the right in the smaller temple there is little of note other than the small raised altar in the central niche at the end.The most striking element of Ggantija is the perimeter wall. The stone wall reaches six meters high in places, the largest of the slabs measures six meters by six-and-a-half meters.
Nino's and Xerri's Grottoes
These are two underground caves of stalactites and stalagmites.The entrance to Nino's, the smaller of the two, is through the owner's front room and the cave is not deep.The descent to the much more substantial Xerri's Grotto, through a house called "God Bless Australia", is more precarious. It is 10 meters down a tiny spiral staircase.
Our Lady of Victory Church
The church in Xaghra has a nickname - Il Bambina - after the church's 19th C. French Statue. The large 1815 church has an interior with wide columns and 10 small chapels and follows the idiom of the day, the marble work being rich and ornate. Apart from Christian scenes of victory over heathen enemies, there is an apse painting of "The Nativity of the Virgin" by Giuseppe Cali.