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Attard

Attard is one of the so-called Three Villages, along with neighbouring Lija and Balzan. Many wealth families built summer residences here in the early years of the 20th century, and the Three Villages are still considered an exclusive urban area. Attard lies almost halfway between Malta's medieval capital Mdina and the Knights' `new' capital Valletta. Its position meant the village was always the centre of transport and communication projects between the two. First was the Wignacourt acquaduct, completed in 1615, built to solve the problems of Valletta's drinking water supply. In the late 19th century came the railway, a service which lasted only until the 1930s. Attard today is still characterised by large villas and gardens, the most impressive of which is San Anton Palace built by Grand Master Antoine de Paule in the late 16th century. It is now the official residence of the President of Malta and is used for state functions. The gardens, open to the public, are a baroque masterpiece and oasis of green and calm. The village has many architectural gems, but the highlight is the Parish Church of St Mary (1616) designed by Maltese architect Tumas Dingli. It is regarded as the best Renaissance monument on the Islands. Near Attard is the Ta' Qali Crafts Village, on the old wartime airfield, and the National Stadium.

Mdina

The history of Mdina and its suburb Rabat is as old and as chequered as the history of Malta itself. Mdina, Malta’s medieval capital, can trace its origins back more than 4000 years. Rabat can claim the origins of Maltese Christianity. It was here in A.D. 60 that the Apostle St Paul is said to have lived after being shipwrecked on the Islands. Both Mdina and Rabat are fascinating to tour for their timeless atmosphere and their cultural and religious treasures.
Mdina has had different names and titles depending on its rulers and its role. It was Melita to the Romans; Medina to the Arabs; and Citta’ Vecchia, the old city, when Valletta became the lifeblood of the Islands. None describe it better than its medieval name, Citta’ Notabile, the noble city.
It was home then, as now, to Malta’s noble families; some are descendants of the Norman, Sicilian and Spanish overlords who made Mdina their home from the 12th century onwards. Their Impressive palaces line its narrow, shady streets. Mdina is one of Europe’s finest examples of an ancient walled city, and unusual in its mix of medieval and baroque architecture.
Today Mdina has a quiet, restrained atmosphere in keeping with its noble past. Lamplit by night, Mdina transforms itself into the ‘Silent City’. For a relaxed evening, seek out the restaurants tucked away in its bastions and palace courtyards.

Old St Gregory, Zejtun

The Old Parish Church of St Gregory, dating back to 1436, is one of the most fascinating on the Islands. The church was built in 1436 on the site of an early chapel, of which the nave and facade survive incorporated in the 'newer' edifice. The low dome was added in in the mid-16th century and is one of the earliest examples of dome construction by the Knights. In 1969, a system of secret passages was discovered in the church walls. Intended perhaps as a safe place for villagers when Zejtun was under attack, these passages revealed the bodies of some 80 or people. The Feast of St Gregory, or San Grigor, falls on the Wednesday following Easter Sunday. In earlier times, a religious procession would leave the parish church in Tarxien and follow a two-mile route to Old St Gregory's Church. Nowadays the route has been shortened. The origins of this procession are lost in time, but according to local tradition it was first held as a thanksgiving to God for his intervention to halt the Bubonic Plague which killed some 11,000 Islanders between 1675-6.

 
Birkirkara

Birkirkara, situated in the central region of Malta, is the largest population centre on the Islands and has been so since the Middle Ages. Birkirkara was listed as one of the original 12 medieval parishes in 1436. It continued to flourish until it splintered into separate parishes. Today, the parish church is still known as `Matrici' which means it is the mother of the other neighbouring parishes. Another interesting church is the old parish church dedicated to The Assumption. Most of present-day Birkirkara is modern, though the town retains a traditional core characterised by alleyways, narrow streets and houses typical of small villages. The larger town houses tend to be used as headquarters for band clubs or political parties. A tiny garden separates the town's older area from the new quarters. Here you can see one of the old railway stations on the commuter line that ran from Rabat to Valletta. Apart from the churches, the oldest buildings in the town are the windmills. One is a private residence, the other, at the heart of the town, is an art gallery. Known locally as `Ta' Ganu' it hosts exhibitions by local and foreign artists.
Birkirkara is also known for the large amount of rain that is gathered in the village. Each time there is huge amount of rain B'Kara would be flooded. This happens because this village was built around a valley, from which rain water (from Naxxar and Attard) passes. To overcome this problem the local council and the government are going to demolish some buildings, which are stopping water to flow to Msida. There are about six churches. One of them is St Helena Basilica. It has got the largest church bell in Malta. The main feast in B'Kara is celebrated on the 18th August. B'Kara's feast is special because the procession takes place in the morning rather then in the evening. At the outskirts of B'Kara near Mriehel area one can find the Aqueducts, which were constructed by Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt to provide water for the new city - Valletta. Up to 1931 Malta had its own railway lines that ran from Valletta to Mdina. In B'Kara one can find a railway station, which was used by that times. Although now it is changed to a garden, it's a good idea to go and visit the Old Railway Station. Another mark of the old times in B'Kara is the windmill. Windmills were used extensively but now they are only something of the past.

St Nicholas Church, Siggiewi

The centre of Siggiewi is dominated by the imposing baroque parish church of St Nicholas. Designed by Lorenzo Gafa', who was also responsible for Mdina Cathedral, St Nicholas' is one of the finest examples of a baroque parish church on the Islands. Its huge dome, visible on the skyline for miles, is a late 19th century addition to the 1697 construction. In this church one finds the remains of St VIncent and St Pius. The titular painting was created by the famous Mattia Preti, while the painting of Our Lady of the Rosary was depicted in 1703 by Mattia Perez Aleccio. The square in front of the church is remarkable for its size, its two chapels and massive statue of St Nicholas. This statue is the work of one of Malta's most renowned sculptors, Pietro Felici, who carved this statue out of one huge stone block in the early years of the eighteenth century and it is his only known stonework. Saint Nicholas of Bari, the protector of this village, is the forerunner of present-day Father Christmas, because he used to give presents to poor children. In fact he is usually shown holding three small sackfuls of money, as in this statue. A peculiarity of this area concerns the annual procession in honour of St Nicholas, when the procession does not proceed along the main streets of the village but simply goes around the statue and back to the Church.

 

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