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This blog is dedicated to Malta - my island home. My aim is not to bore you with history but to share my thoughts and a few facts together with a photo or two. For a more in -depth background of the island please go here. The purpose of this blog is not to point out the short-comings of the island. There are plenty that do that already. My wish is to show you the beauty of an island at the cross roads of the Mediterranean, a melting pot of history; a place where fact and fiction are sometimes fused to create unique myths and legends; a country that has been conquered so many times that our culture is a mish mesh of the lands that surround us and of lands far away. I confess that my greatest desire is to make you fall in love with this tiny enchanting island.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Marsaxlokk & A Tale Of An Ancient Harbour

In the southern part of our island there is a fishing village called Marsaxlokk. Its name is derived from the Arabic word for harbour (marsa) and the Maltese word for the south-east wind (xlokk). It is a picturesque little place – a village by the sea; the water of its bay dotted with boats. A sleepy little place, ideal for a family stroll. A harbour whose limpid waters have,since ancient times, provided sanctuary to countless ships and boats.

Marsaxlokk (4)

Around 3000 years ago the Phoenicians sailed into this harbour, bringing with them their cargo of precious purple dye and superstitions that have lived on to this day. Traditional Maltese boats are painted in vibrant colours and usually, on the bow, you will find the Eyes of Horus (or the Eyes of Osiris) for protection and good luck. It is a common tradition that these eyes have been painted on Maltese boats since that time.

Darin's 158

The fact that these ancient mariners settled in the area can be confirmed by the temple they built to Astarte, their goddess of love, on the top of a hill overlooking this natural harbour.

Marsaxlokk (2)

 

Although Marsaxlokk is a typical Mediterranean village, where nothing much seems to happen except for the excitement of the daily catch, it has played its own role in the turbulent history of this island. In 1565 it witnessed an attack on the island by the Ottoman Turks, an attack which later turned into the Great Siege of 1565.

Marsaxlokk (7)

It was also the harbour used by Napoleon in 1798, when he took over the island from the Knights of St John and launched his attack on Egypt.

Marsaxlokk (5)

In 1989, Marsaxlokk was the venue for a summit held between George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev onboard the Russian cruiser Maxim Gorky – a summit which effectively ended the cold war.

Marsaxlokk (8)

Yet I doubt whether most of us give a second thought to these events as we stroll along the sleepy promenade, watching the boats bobbing peacefully in the water. Because, on the land there is no reminder of the embattled past and, as the fishermen will tell you, the sea very rarely gives up its secrets.

Marsaxlokk (1)

13 comments:

  1. My compliments for your blog and pictures included,I invite you in my photoblog "photosphera".

    CLICK PHOTOSPHERA

    Greetings from Italy

    Marlow

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  2. I love these boats and their wonderful colours! Would be nice to paint them..... A happy week and perfect easter from Luzia.

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  3. I love your little trips into Malta's history. You make them so interesting... and the boats are beautiful...


    (and thank you for your always kind and compassionate comments - today's being no exception...)

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  4. i love, love, love the first photo. the colorful boats against the sepia toned buildings in the background tells me a lot about the place's culture and traditions.

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  5. Hi Loree
    I'm just loving these colours today.. and especially love that first shot.. gorgeous..

    Hope you are having a lovely week.. ciao xxxx Julie

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  6. The area around your home is so different from my world here, Loree. Really enjoy your views and the history lessons!

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  7. must be nice to take a stroll at this harbor. i love the first photo.

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  8. Look at all these gorgeous, bright, rich colors! Thank you for providing the background history - very interesting! =)

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  9. Your photos are absolutely dreamy with the bright reflected boats on the water... Your island has more history than many large countries with its geographic position.

    I love the stories and insight you give us to times present and times past.

    Bises,
    Genie

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  10. Beautiful photos! The bright, colourful boats are magnificent. I love reading the history of you island.
    Where in St Louis did you live? What a small world!
    xoxo, B

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  11. Great photography and really cool place..

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  12. Beautiful photo and now I want to go there! How charming and I love the colors of the boats!

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  13. this is a fantastic set of images! I love the first photo especially!

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