Malta Diary The ten most beautiful places in Malta – and why
Highly debateable of course depending on a number of factors such as the eye of the beholder, particular affiliations and recollections, historical value and a number of other infinite reasons.
This is as I see them and behold them, the ten most beautiful views in Malta and Gozo, not necessarily in order of precedence or favouritism but the ten that remind me most of my island home where I to be away (as I was for many years) and would instantly have nostalgic pangs when seeing pictures of them.
01 THE BLUE LAGOON IN COMINO
This is natural beauty at its best with such a beautiful shoreline and clear blue seas that beckon you to linger there forever, a real paradise. Sandwiched between the north of Malta and south of Gozo, the small islands of Comino and Cominotto are largely uninhabited and I think currently only one family actually lives there. This has always been and still is a getaway paradise but sadly more prone to commercial exploitation and during the summer months invaded by thousands of holidaymakers. One of the few inhabitants ruefully reminisced that in his boyhood this beautiful bay was even deserted in summer! Those were the days, so lovely days.
02 THE AZURE WINDOW AT DWEJRA IN GOZO
A romantic natural rock window in the north of Gozo that is sadly but slowly and surely collapsing because of the soft base rock and its entire exposure to the winds and seas of ravages during storms. Tourists and visitors have over generations trampled overhead, causing even more damage although this is now prohibited and subject to severe fines. It has been classified by UNESCO as one of the natural wonders of the world.
03 THE INLAND SEA AT DWEJRA, GOZO
This is more romance and fantasy, a small inland sea with a natural rock tunnel that leads to the open sea and leads out into the vicinity of the Azure Window. Again sadly, for years over-exploited and at one point totally spoilt by unscheduled buildings although this has now been brought under control allowing only a few huts for local fishermen.
04 THE BEAUTIFUL ISLAND OF FILFLA
A magnificent view off the village of Zurrieq in the south of Malta, a mystic place of mystery that was probably an area of sacred veneration during Neolithic times. Like the Azure Window, its base is of soft rock and mud and therefore decimation over the years has been considerable – considering that during the past it even hosted a little chapel. This is a rock teeming with natural wildlife and birds’ nests and nowadays highly protected.
05 THE BLUE GROTTO AT ZURRIEQ
Another natural rock formation near the village of Zurrieq which again is highly active in summer as thousands of tourists make use of boat trips that weave in and around the ‘leg’ of the grotto. The colour of the surrounding sea is a magnificent azure and in some areas with rainbow coloured sands.
06 THE BAY AT GHAJN TUFFIEHA
This is another magnificent ‘twin’ bay in the north of Malta, adjacent to similarly popular Golden Bay. Thankfully this has not been spoilt by over-building and still retains a remote element about it. The Maltese word ‘ghajn’ means water-well or water font, and the word ‘tuffieha’ is an apple and therefore Font of Apples.
07 THE NEOLITHIC TEMPLES AT HAGAR QIM
In Neolithic times (circa 5,000 BC) the southern part of Malta was venerated as a sacred place and the temples at Hagar Qim (literally Sacred Stones) undoubtedly built as a centre of pagan worship, with a particular focus on the veneration of the sun, the giver of life. These have been deemed as the oldest free-standing structures in the world and are on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Nearby is another temple at Mnajdra and a similarly large temple can be found in Gozo at Ggantija as well as prolific minor temples and dolmens throughout most of Malta and Gozo. Historians classify the whole of Malta as having been venerated as a sacred island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.
08 MALTA’S FORMER CAPITAL CITY MDINA
Again, a history that stretches back into the realms of time and was for centuries Malta’s capital city housing the island’s nobility behind its protective bastion walls. Built by the Arabs during their 200-year sojourn of Malta it was constructed on one of Malta’s highest localities, for defensive reasons because of commanding views of most of the island and named after the Islamic holy city of Medina. After the Arabs were totally expelled by Count Roger of Normandy the name was Romanised and became Civita Vecchia (the Old City) but over the years the name Mdina has been retained and in English dubbed ‘The Silent City’ because of its hushed reverence, quiet narrow streets and alleys and in general an aura of commanding nobility.
09 MALTA’S CAPITAL CITY VALLETTA
After the Ottoman Siege of 1565 was repelled, the Grandmaster of the Order of the Knights of St John Jean Parisot de la Valette deemed that Malta needed a new capital city for defensive reasons, a capital built around a port, in this case striding two ports, the Grand Harbour and Marsamxett. Sadly he died before completion but the new city was named after him as a fitting memorial. It is a city teeming with baroque structures and deemed by a past British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli as being ‘a City built by Gentlemen for Gentlemen’.
10 MALTA’S MAGNIFICENT GRAND HAROUR
Deemed to be Europe largest natural harbour and one of the world’s largest natural harbours, Malta’s Grand Harbour has a historical legacy that would fill many, many volumes and was brought into even sharper focus when Valletta was built.
I have dealt with all these localities in a number of articles previously published by b-c-ing-u.com. Look them up for more detailed information and a panorama of delightful history.