Category Archives: Country Walks in Malta

Malta: the Land of Honey

Malta is well renowned for its pure honey. In fact beekeeping in Malta has a long history. Proof of this is the name the Greeks gave Malta. They called the island ‘Melite’ (Μελίτη) which derives from the Greek word ‘meli’ (μέλι) that means honey.

bees

Photo credits: Times of Malta

A sub species of the honey bee (Apis Mellifera Ruttneri) is endemic to the Maltese Islands. This type of bee used to live in the wild. Nowadays you can still find some but they have become very rare due to diseases.

In the past Maltese honey was considered a delicacy and it also used to be exported from the island. It is believed that the Phoenicians introduced the domestication of beekeeping in apiaries and earthenware jars. In fact some Punic apiaries remain. In the Maltese countryside one can still find apiaries called ‘Miġbħa’ that date back to Punic times. One of them is the Xemxija apiary that is one of the oldest in the world. In theory this apiary is still in a state of use, however nowadays the beekeeping technique is different with movable frame hives.

Apiary - Honey making in Malta

Photo credits: Cordyline on Panoramio.

In Malta, until the 1950’s bees were kept in earthenware jars. These type of jars were made of clay and without a bottom. At the top they had a closure with small holes. These jars were kept under carob trees in order to get a good shading from the sun. Sometimes they were also placed in niches in rubble walls made especially for these jars. But those who had the means used to build apiaries in their fields. These apiaries were specially built rooms or caves which had their opening closed by a wall. An opening in the wall would allow the bees to enter the cave.

Honey was gathered once a year after the wild thyme honey season, usually around the Feast of St. Anne which falls on the 26th July. The honey making process is quite a busy one for the beekeeper. He needs to observe the bees at work in order to add extensions to the jar. The gathering of the honey was a little messy too. A long knife was used in order to cut off the combs with honey. The liquid was then placed in a pail or a pot and covered. Before bee smokers were available, the beekeepers used to burn some grass in old cooking pans and extinguish it to make some smoke in order to enter near the bees and not be stung.

These techniques started to change in the 50’s as the first movable frame hives and other tools began to appear. These were generally imported from Britain. The hives were then copied from them and crafted locally. Till today the British Standard hive is common in Malta.

Maltese Honey

Photo credits: Viewing Malta & Mario Galea

In old times honey was a commodity for the general household. Before the invention of sugar refining, honey was the only means of sweetener. It was also cheaper than cane sugar. Although nowadays the whole process has changed, one cannot forget our fathers that without any modern knowledge and tools managed to place Malta in the world map of honey. In fact Maltese honey is still regarded as one of the best around the world.

If you would like to witness some local traditions during your holidays in Malta be sure to speak to our Transport desk during your stay and they will guide you through our list of self guided tours and excursions.

Photo credits: Times of Malta, Viewing Malta & Mario Galea and on Panoramio.

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Things to do in Malta this Winter

Visiting Malta this Winter? There are several things you can enjoy whilst exploring the islands. From country walks to visiting museums, there is surely something for everyone to enjoy. Have a look at some of our tips that will make your holiday in Malta worthwhile.

Hagar Qim Temple

Hagar Qim Temple – © Viewing Malta

1. Visit Hagar Qim, Malta’s prehistoric freestanding Megalithic temples situated in Qrendi
2. Practice your photography
3. Go out cycling one morning or afternoon
4. Have you tried painting? There are so many beautiful sceneries around Malta and Gozo
5. Go karting in Ta’ Qali
6. Try horse riding at least once in your life

Ggantija Temples Gozo

Ggantija Temples Gozo – © Mick Cundy & Viewing Malta

7. Go back to the past; visit the ‘Ggantija Temples’ in Gozo
8. Dance the night away at one of the nightclubs in Paceville
9. Visit the ‘Kordin 111 Neolithic Temples’

War Museum

War Museum – © Rene Rossignaud

10. Go to the ‘Malta War Museum’ in Fort St Elmo in Valletta
11. Visit the ‘Museum of National History’ in Mdina
12. Visit the National library in Valletta

Mgarr ix-Xini Coastal Tower

Mgarr ix-Xini Coastal Tower – © Pauline Dingli & Viewing Malta

13. Go to Mgarr Ix-Xini cove in Gozo
14. Visit the Royal Navy Prison Museum in Corradino
15. Take a trip out to the newly opened National Aquarium in Qawra
16. See the ‘Fat Lady’ at the Tarxien temples
17. Admire ‘The Magesterial Palace & Armoury’ in Valletta
18. Take time to explore at least one seasonal cultural event

The Grand Hotel Excelsior’s prime location allows easy access to all tourist locations around the Maltese Islands. The main bus terminus provides services to all towns and villages and is only a few minutes away from this luxury 5 star hotel in Malta. If you’d like to explore places around Malta, kindly contact the chauffeur driven service at this superior hotel.  With a list of tours and excursions they will surely help you enjoy a unique and memorable Malta holiday.

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Your Spring holiday in Malta

Spring in your Step…

Malta has so much to offer to the adventurous traveller at springtime! The Maltese Islands hide many attractions under water, so whether it is snorkelling or diving that you prefer, the surrounding Mediterranean waters offer spectacular underwater views. If you prefer walking or hiking, a must-see attraction is the natural trio of spectacular phenomena – the Azure Window, Inland Sea and Fungus Rock, which are located in Gozo.

A visit to Malta would not be complete without viewing the following:

Dingli CliffsDingli Cliffs
This countryside is an ideal site for walking, with the views of Verdala Palace, Buskett Gardens and Filfla Island. The cliffs are few kilometres long and 200 meters high at some points, and these were the island’s natural fortress during the Knights’ occupation. Dingli Cliffs is considered one of the most beautiful locations in Malta, especially at sunset.

Buskett GardensBuskett Gardens
This is one of the few woodland areas in Malta. The 30ha site lies south of Rabat and east of Dingli, and many different trees and shrubs grow in the area. These gardens were originally planted by the Knights Hospitaller as a hunting ground. Enjoy a stroll around these beautiful gardens while enjoying the cool shade and tranquil surroundings.

MarsaxlokkMarsaxlokk Saline Marshland
There are only six salt marsh habitats in a good condition on the Islands. Due to the very limited number, great importance is paid to this natural heritage. These sites are recognized as conservation areas. The Marsaxlokk Saline Marshlands were listed as Nature Reserve in 1983. They evolved in an isolated area on sediments overplayed with surface water. This is a process which happens during the growth season. The distance between the sea and the Saline Marshland is very important as they are the link between the marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments.

Manikata
Manikata, located in the Northern part of Malta, within the limits of Mellieha is run by a group of local farmers and its residents known as Koperattiva Rurali Manikata (KRM). The group was set up in order to protect the locality and to maintain its natural beauty. The organization is currently working on four projects. These are management of the Rural Heritage Trail, the restoration of Razzett tal-Qasan and the Armoury and the promotion of local products.

The Historic Farmstead (Ir-Razzett tal-Qasan) is a relatively large rural  complex comprised of caves and rooms, many of which are now in ruins. Although most of these rooms originated during the Knights’ period, it is believed that some of these date back to medieval times, when they were
used by farmers. The Heritage Trail is an educational visitor programme for students and adults, which allows visitors to experience Maltese nature and agriculture. The trail includes a walk, viewing of historical and archeological sites, and a taste of local Maltese bread, as well as an opportunity to buy some of the locally produced foods. You might want to consider visiting the Majjistral Nature and History Park which borders with Manikata, and is known as the first Natural Park set up on the Maltese Islands. The beauty of this area gives its visitors a rare experience in very developed Malta; of walking through historical and natural sites. Manikata is located in the Northwest Malta and includes the coastal area from Golden Bay to il-Prajjet and ix- Xagħra l-Ħamra. This park includes 6 km of designated Natura 2000 area, historical and archeological site.

If you would like to view some of these interesting places during your holiday in Malta, contact our Transport Desk and they will organise interesting self guided tours for you.

Photos courtesy of Maurizio Modena & Viewing Malta

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