Abbatija tad-Dejr is primarily an early Christian site consisting of at least four hypogea next to each other. One possible meaning of the toponym ‘Dejr’ is that of a ‘sheepfold’. However, it can also mean a convent or a monastery, which may be indicative of the site’s history. Outside, the site has a rectangular forecourt, originally a quarry, into which the four hypogea were excavated. Later, possibly in the 13th century, this forecourt seems to have been enlarged and partially roofed over by a colonnade. The largest of the four entrances leads to the main complex, which includes a rectangular hallway. Originally a triclinium hall, this area was later transformed for use in conjunction with the adjacent 13th century chapel. The remains of frescoes and numerous crosses bear testimony to this.

The 13th century saw drastic changes within this site due to its change in use as a Christian oratory. This included dominating a central apse that once contained a fresco showing the Crucifixion with the Virgin Mary, John and Archangel Gabriel on the sides. This fresco and the two coat-of-arms that adorned the main supporting pillar were removed for safekeeping a few decades ago and can now be viewed at MUZA, Valletta.

Despite the 13th century changes, this hypogeum’s main burial area has partially survived. It is mostly made up of Baldacchino tombs dug in a grid fashion, some of which are lavishly decorated with spirals, fish-scale motifs and palm breaches. The other three hypogea are smaller but they also feature examples of Roman funerary architecture such as triclinia and different types of tombs.

Abbatija tad-Dejr

Archaeological Remains

Open by appointment

Rabat, Malta

Gallery

Getting Here

Public Transport

The closest bus stop is 5 minutes by walk. Interested in getting here by public transport?

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Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to the most common questions about the Abbatija tad-Dejr.

This is a closed site which can only be accessed by appointment and accompanied by a Heritage Malta staff; please send an email to info@heritagemalta.org

There is no audio-guide available at the moment, but a private tour can also be provided for a fee.

Around 30-45 minutes.

No, the closest HM giftshop and other amenities are at St Paul’s Catacombs.

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