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.


Friday 29 October 2010

Glimpses of Grand Harbour

Valletta (31)  

I may be biased but I think that Malta has one of the most beautiful harbours in the world. I love how its mood seems to change with the different light. This harbour has witnessed many battles and has sheltered hundreds of ships, its turbulent past is now part of history. On the ramparts that surround it, the guns are forever silent and the only sound that breaks the stillness is the gentle sighing of the wind and the mournful wail of some ship’s fog horn as it sails away to a distant shore.



Monday 18 October 2010

A Kitchen Called Victory

Valletta (7)

The recent refurbishing of a shop-front in Valletta led to the discovery of the sign above. Victory Kitchens were opened by the Government at the height of WW2 to alleviate the suffering of the population by distributing free food. In 1942 there was a total of 42 Victory Kitchens in different towns and villages around the island. This particular sign had been painted over and forgotten for many years. It has now been restored and serves as a reminder of those bleak days when the world was at war.

Wednesday 13 October 2010

The Legend Of The Place They Call ‘Il-Maqluba’

Il-Maqluba (50)

On the outskirts of the village of Qrendi, beneath a chapel dedicated to St  Matthew (more about that in a future post) is a circular depression in the ground. It is known as ‘Il-Maqluba’ which roughly translates to ‘the upside-down one’ or the ‘inside-out one’. This natural depression is said to have been formed in 1343, after a particularly severe winter, possibly accompanied by an earthquake. Il-Maqluba was formed by the collapse of the underlying limestone strata. In geological terms, this is known as a doline. The place is now a sink-hole and collects water from the surrounding fields and country-side. That is the scientific explanation of what happened.

Il-Maqluba (20)

Il-Maqluba (5)  

But there is a more colourful story, of course. It is said that a small village of evil people lived right over the area where the depression is today. A pious lady who lived in the area where the chapel is now situated repeatedly warned her neighbours to change their evil ways – to no avail. As a result, God decreed that the ground beneath the village would collapse, sparing none except the good woman. Angels were then sent to dispose of the hamlet by dumping it at sea. This is said to be how the small island of Filfla, a few miles off the south-west coast of Malta, originated. I suppose that this is a case when the legend is so much more interesting than the truth.

Il-Maqluba (21)

The doline itself is 15 metres deep and has a perimeter of 300 metres. It supports a variety of trees such as bay laurel, sandarac gum, carob and hawthorne and other endemic vegetation. Il-Maqluba (32) 

Equipped with a rope and some sturdy shoes, it is possible to go down into the doline – something which I still need to do. Perhaps this winter I will try to experience Il-Maqluba from the bottom looking up, as opposed to always peering down the steep slopes at its lush green interior.

   Il-Maqluba (48)

For an aerial view of il-Maqluba, go here.

Monday 4 October 2010

Wayside Chapels (4) – St Mary Magdalen

On a breezy day a couple of weeks ago, we drove to the little town of Dingli and then headed on towards the cliffs which drop vertiginously into the deep blue sea. The summer heat and drought has de-nuded the cliffs and, shorn of the short-rooted plants that grow in the garigue in the cooler months, their jagged edges look sad and forlorn, waiting patiently for the rain that will give them back life.

Dingli Cliffs 015

It is on these cliffs that the chapel dedicated to St Mary Magdalen is situated.

Dingli Cliffs 004

Three steps lead to a small one-roomed building. With the sheer cliffs behind it and the towns of Rabat, Mtarfa and Mdina in the distance, this chapel commands one of the most outstanding views on the Island.

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Dingli Cliffs 012

Dingli Cliffs 001

Dingli Cliffs 010


I could not find much information about this chapel other than that it was built in 1640 to tend to the needs of the farmers that made a frugal living from the little terraced fields in pockets of soil on the cliff-face. During the winter months this area is a favoured picnic stop by many but, in summer, it is surrounded by silence and the gentle sighing of the wind.

      Dingli Cliffs 016

The Azure Window: the end of an icon

The Azure Window was a natural limestone arch that rose majestically out of the blue Mediterranean sea to a height of 28 metres (92 fee...