Category Archives: Maltese History

Feasts in Malta – The Santa Marija Convoy

The Feast of Santa Marija is celebrated on the 15th of August, and for the Maltese population this religious holiday bears a very deep, historical significance. Santa Marija is the perfect day for you if you love festas, food, colour and joyous noise all meshed up in a magnificent display of fireworks and revelry. Santa Marija is however also celebrated solemnly and with gusto in the following localities whose parishes honour her: Attard, Mosta, Mqabba, Qrendi, Gudja, Ghaxaq, and Victoria, Gozo.
Maltese History – the story of Santa Marija
During World War II, the Maltese population was saved from starvation and provided with enough supplies to sustain the islands thanks to a food convoy that arrived during the week of the feast day. This convoy’s arrival is seen by many to have been a big turning point of the war in the Mediterranean as otherwise the Maltese would have had no alternative but to surrender.
In August 1942, Operation Pedestal was mounted from the United Kingdom with the aim to relieve Malta. The convoy was intercepted by the Axis who deployed 20 submarines, 19 motor torpedo boats and over 850 aircraft. Hence they faced a gruelling five-day ordeal which saw nine out of fourteen merchant ships succumbing to the relentless round-the-clock attacks.
Four of the ships that survived reached Malta on the 13th and 14th of August. However there was no sign of the sturdy tanker Ohio, which was loaded with vital oil, fuel and kerosene supplies without which Malta could not hope to survive. The tanker had been singled out from the start and faced ferocious attacks and was lying crippled some kilometres off Malta. The ship had been torpedoed and holed, a series of fires were started and controlled, her boilers blew up and her engines failed; twice abandoned and twice rebounded- the tanker would not sink- as if aware that Malta’s survival depended on her!
On August 15th 1942 on the feast of Santa Marija, the Ohio – towed by two destroyers, Ledbury and Penn, and one minesweeper, Rye- entered the Grand Harbour. She discharged her cargo and no sooner were the 10,000 tons of precious fuel oil and kerosene extracted from her mangled hull, the Ohio sank and rested on the bottom. This epic convoy is recorded in Malta’s National War Museum where many items are on display, which include photographs of the fourteen ships; a graphic plan showing the route by the convoy and the locations of where the ships were sunk; the helm and nameboard of ‘Ohio’ amongst many other fascinating historical artefacts.
For more information on how to get to the National War Museum or about Malta Events during your holidays please speak to Our Transport Desk.
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Maltese History & Fortifications

A glance into the Maltese history and fortifications… See what this experienced traveller has to say about Malta and its history!

And if you would like to experience one of our unique Malta tours contact us on +356 21250520.

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72 hours in Malta

300 days of sunshine, crystal clear Mediterranean waters, 7,000 years of history, thriving local traditions and laid-back rural villages, delicious cuisine and a vibrant nightlife – Welcome to Malta!

Stay at the Grand Hotel Excelsior, two minutes away from Valletta, and relive the Knight’s of St. John legacy. Visit the medieval city of Mdina, one of Europe’s finest examples of an ancient walled city and extraordinary in its mix of medieval and baroque architecture. Head north to enjoy Mediterranean sun, sand and sea. Experience Gozo where tranquillity is still a way of life. Enjoy Malta’s religious ‘festas’, adorned churches and glittering firework displays. Discover megalithic temples, rugged countryside and dramatic cliffs or submerge into a diver’s paradise. Wine and dine in stylish surroundings and party in lively evening venues.
If you have only three days in Malta, do not attempt to see it all. Although the area covered by the Maltese Islands is just 316 km², there is plenty to see and do so we recommend you experience just a few of Malta’s highlights to get a feeling of the island’s character.

We will start by giving you information about Things to do in Malta on Day 1.

Day 1 – Valletta & Sliema

With the Grand Hotel Excelsior as your home, the Capital Valletta, is probably the most obvious place to start. With the entire city declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, walking through its streets is nothing short of walking through an open-air museum. Walk along Republic Street to St John’s Co-Cathedral, the jewel of Valletta, with its gilded interior enough to make one’s jaw drop. Look out for the Caravaggio’s only signed painting, The Beheading of St John. Exit the Catheral and dive into the open-air market in Merchants’ Street. All in all, Valletta is also a great place for shopping.
Do take the time to wander through the alleyways, up and down the lopes and stairways, and to sit under the sun with a coffee watching the pigeons. In whichever order you choose to do these, try to be at the Upper Barrakka Gardens at noon for the re-enactment and shooting of the cannon, and enjoy one of the most spectacular views in Malta, that of the Grand Harbour.

For the afternoon we recommend a Harbour Cruise which takes you to see the the Three Cities from a unique perspective and which offers an insight to the essence of Maltese History.

Tomorrow we will be giving you some tips on what to do in Malta on Day 2. So visit the Blogs of the Grand Hotel Excelsior Malta to stay updated.

Should you wish to experience one of our exclusive tours during your Holidays in Malta kindly contact our chauffeur driven service on: +356 21250520 or on transport@excelsior.com.mt.

Photos courtesy of the Malta Tourism Authority.

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