Have you ever visited a place in your childhood that you never went to again but that lived on in your memory as a place of spectacular beauty? Well, Fawwara was that place for me. Over the years I would hear people talk about its uniqueness and its pretty views and I always longed to go back. But somehow, the time and opportunity never seemed to arise. But last Saturday we took the narrow, winding road to this little hamlet situated beneath Dingli cliffs.
The Chapel Of The Annunciation
So we followed the road that brought us first to the chapel of the Annunciation – above us the steep cliffs and below us the blue, blue sea. We headed on a bit more till the road just became a dirt path. At the end of the road was the chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Carmel (more about these two chapels in a future post). The view was magnificent: fields, the garigue, wild flowers, the sea and, in the distance, the little islet of Filfla.
And all around us, the sound of silence – broken only by the chirping and twittering of birds. In this place, time had stood still, nothing had changed and memories from my first visit so many years ago came flooding back. The view, the cliffs, the scattered farmhouses, the caves – the very same caves that had sheltered Bronze Age men and women – I could feel the place working its magic on me.
I had found a place which seemed untouched by the outside world and I felt that, like Rip van Winkle, I could stay there for an hour and a day only to return to the outside world and find out that 20 years had flown by while I was just gazing in rapture at nature’s wild beauty.
I could not fund much historical information about Fawwara. The name Fawwara is derived from the Maltese word for a spring of natural water. The area of Fawwara known as Gebel Ciantar seems to have been settled since Bronze Age times when the inhabitants made use of the many caves that dot the cliffs as their dwellings. The cliffs themselves provided an impregnable fortress against any would-be marauders. In the 13th century it is said that the Arab overlord Ali Sid killed and tortured a number of young girls from Fawwara for refusing to convert to the Islamic faith. I could find no historical data to back this story. But then, what place would be complete without its legends?
The Chapel of Our Lady of Carmel