Category Archives: Malta Attractions

Azure Window: A Natural Wonder Lost

Azure Window Gozo 1970

The Azure Window way back in the 1970s

The Azure Window (Maltese: Tieqa tad-Dwejra or Tieqa Zerqa) was a limestone natural arch on the Maltese island of Gozo. It was situated near Dwejra Bay on the Inland Sea. The formation, which was created after two limestone sea caves collapsed, was a very popular site amongst scuba divers.

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The current site of the former Azure Window

In March 2017, the arch collapsed after a heavy storm. The natural monument was considered as the most known landmark in the Republic of Malta. The collapse of the window was expected and the incident was a consequence of the weakening of the pillar. The Azure Window was made of a Maltese limestone known as Globigerina Limestone which is the second oldest rock found on the islands covering almost 70% of its area. The rock, which is subject to erosion, gives Malta its distinctive coast and interior. Thickness of the limestone ranges from 23 m (75 ft) near Fort Chambray on Gozo up to 207 m (679 ft) around Marsaxlokk on Malta. The 28 m (92 ft) high arch consists of yellow to pale-grey limestone comprising the remains of the marine organism globigerinid foraminifera. The arch had been disintegrating as evidenced by large pieces of rock which had begun to fall from the underside of the arch. The rate of collapse had suggested that the arch would completely disintegrate within a few years. Its dangerous condition led to warning notices being placed along the cliffs to stop people walking over the top of the arch.

In April 2012 a large chunk of rock was dislocated and resulted in the opening of the window being made larger but also more unstable. It also had resulted in a reduction of its previously nearly perfect oblong shape. The window fully collapsed on 8 March 2017 after pillar collapsed, pulling the arch top with it. Following the collapse, only a stub of what used to be part of the stack that supported the roof of the window was left.

If you are planning your next holiday to Malta please feel free to contact the Concierge Team at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Malta who will surely guide you and suggest some great places to visit during your stay.

Photos credit: Bay Retro & Joseph Caruana

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Visit Malta: Majjistral Natural & History Park

Hedgehog

The Majjistral Natural & History Park is located in the Northwest part of Malta, extending from Golden Bay to Popeye Village, or Anchor Bay. Majjistral Park is the only natural park in Malta and it includes coastal cliffs and a rich ecological and rural heritage.

The park contains a diverse of habitats that include: clay slopes, boulder screes, maritime and clifftop garigue, agricultural land, a sandy beach and an associated dune. Native trees, shrubs and smaller plants are being planted and taken care of in the area after it was cleared of rubbish. In Majjistral, you can also find cart-ruts, rubble walls, farmhouses, tombs dating back to the Classical period, caves and a number of ‘giren’ that were used by hunters for storage and shelter. You can explore remains of British military architecture, dating to the early 20th century, amongst which is a military shooting range.

Girna

Majjistral Park was declared a National Park in 2007 and since then over 1300 plants were planted including olives, Evergreen oak, Carob, Myrtle, Golden Samphire and more. There are around 430 different species of plants in the park, including some very extreme species and other plants endemic to Malta – such as Maltese Spurge, Maltese Sea Chamomile, Maltese Pyramical Orchid and the Maltese Sea Lavender. The park is also home to 9 bird species known to breed there and several migratory species who visit. You can also come across different reptiles and mammals such as hedgehogs, various bat species, weasels and wild rabbits. The area is mostly composed of Blue Clay, the rock layer sandwiched between the Globigerina limestone and the Upper Coralline Limestone. Being one of the softer rocks, clay erodes easily with the action of the elements, collapsing limestone structures and leaving a stretch of scattered boulders. Erosion created the sandy beaches of Fomm ir-Rih, Gnejna, Ghajn Tuffieha, Golden Bay and Paradise Bay. The relative inaccessibility of these beaches makes them less frequented and they remain amongst the most pristine and picturesque bays of the island. The amazing landscape at Majjistral Natural Park
attracts several trekkers during autumn, winter and spring.

You can explore the site at your own leisure or join guided nature walks held every Sunday from October to May, subject to a minimum participation. You can book your walk by sending an email to walks@majjistral.org.

Find out what’s happening in Malta by contacting the Concierge Desk at this luxury 5 star hotel and they will definitely give you some great tips on Where to Go and What to Do during your next holiday to Malta.

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Explore Valletta: The Palace Armoury

Palace_Armoury__Valletta_9The Palace Armoury in Valletta is one of the world’s largest collections of arms and armour that is still housed in its original building. The Knights of St John were a unique brotherhood of resolute warrior monks. From Malta, their island stronghold, these combatant aristocrats from the noblest houses of Europe, carried out their relentless crusade against the Ottoman Turks in defence of the Catholic faith.

The Palace Armoury is certainly one of the most visible and tangible symbols of the past glories of the Sovereign Hospitaller Military Order of Malta. Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt transferred the Order’s arsenal to the Magisterial Palace in 1604 where it was the pride of the Order. Apart from being lavishly adorned with elaborate trophies of arms, it held enough arms and armour to equip thousands of soldiers. It was housed in the magnificent hall at the rear of the building, right above its present location.

At present, it is displayed inside two halls that were originally the stables of the palace. Following the forced departure of the Order of St. John from Malta, the armoury somehow lost much of its original grandeur. However, it was restored and was officially opened as Malta’s first public museum in 1860. Although only a fraction of its original splendour remains, the Armoury still contains abundant material of Italian, German, French and Spanish origin from principal production centres. Also displayed is an exotic selection of Islamic and Ottoman arms and armour. Apart from the massed arms of the common soldiers in the collection, the enriched personal armours of the nobility still manage to make a statement. Various areas of the Palace State Rooms and Armoury are currently undergoing restoration. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

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Reasons to Visit:
1. Unique display of suits of armour owned by Grand Masters Alof de Wignacourt and Jean de La Valette.
2. Arms and armour used by the Knights of St. John between 1530 -1798 and by the Ottoman Empire during the Great Siege of 1565.
3. A varied selection of firearms used for both military and sporting purposes.
4. A chance to see a selection of artillery pieces originally used for battle on the fortifications.

Valletta will have the honour of holding the esteemed title of European Capital of Culture in 2018. If you plan to visit Malta be sure to visit interesting places around the capital, Valletta. Contact the Concierge Desk at this luxury 5 star hotel on the doorstep of Valletta for some great tips on places worth visiting during your next holiday to Malta.

Photo credit: Aaron Briffa & Viewing Malta

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