Wardija is a promontory in the limits of San Lawrenz, on the
southwest coast of Gozo, Malta. It contains the remains of a
Punic-Roman sanctuary, which was excavated by Italian archaeologists
in the 1960s. The area is privately owned and it is currently in a
Wardija was probably first inhabited in the Bronze Age, in
around 1500 BC. In around the 3rd century BC, during the Punic
period, a religious complex (probably a nymphaeum) was established in
the area. Since the site is clearly visible from the sea, it might
have also served as a beacon for ships travelling between the Maltese
Islands and North Africa.
The site remained in use throughout the Roman period. Carved crosses
on the walls suggest that the site eventually became a
of worship. The site remained in use until around the 4th century
AD. A hermitage might have existed in the area during the medieval
The main structural elements of the site are:
a rock-hewn rectangular chamber, with a number of niches in the walls
a T-shaped rock-hewn corridor leading to the chamber
a water reservoir and a bell-shaped well, both rock-hewn
the remains of an external masonry structure including an altar
The masonry structure has some similarities to the remains of the
Punic-Roman sanctuary at
Tas-Silġ in Marsaxlokk.
Excavations and recent history
The area around Ras il-
Wardija was used for defensive purposes during
World War II. The site was first excavated by the Missione
Archaeologica Italiana a
Malta (Archaeological Mission of Malta)
between 1964 and 1967. The temple was well preserved until the
excavations, but it has since deteriorated.
On 30 March 1988, it was discovered that an ancient graffito carved on
one of the walls of the sanctuary had been stolen. The graffito shows
a human figure with outstretched arms, in the shape of a cross. It has
been suggested that the figure represents the Punic goddess Tanit, but
it might also be a medieval representation of a
Christian cross. The
graffito was recovered in June 2011, and it is now on display at the
Gozo Museum of Archaeology in the Cittadella.
The land on which the sanctuary is located is privately owned by
George Spiteri, and permission may be required in order to access the
site. It is listed on the National Inventory of the Cultural
Property of the Maltese Islands.
^ a b c d "Ras il-Wardija" (PDF). National Inventory of the Cultural
Property of the Maltese Islands. 16 December 2011. Archived from the
original (PDF) on 1 May 2016.
^ a b c d e "Ras il-
Wardija – the return of the lost graffito"
(PDF). Superintendence of Cultural Heritage. 3 June 2011. Archived
from the original (PDF) on 3 June 2016.
^ Bugeja, Lino (10 January 2016). "
Gozo – a historical and scenic
cornucopia". Times of Malta. Archived from the original on 3 June
^ a b Barry, Duncan (25 May 2015). "Sanctuary advertised on Visit Gozo
site but owner of land where temple stands has 'reservations'". The
Malta Independent. Archived from the original on 11 August 2015.
Media related to Ras il-
Wardija at Wikimedia Commons
Phoenician cities and colonies
Mauritania / Morocco
Cerne / Arambys
Sa Caleta, Ibiza
Turkey / others
Phoenicus / Gibraltar
Roman remains in Malta
Melite (Domvs Romana
Temple of Apollo^
Temple of Proserpina^ )
Għajn Tuffieħa Roman Baths
Punic-Roman round towers (Ta' Ċieda
San Pawl Milqi
Żejtun Roman villa