Category Archives: Malta Attractions

Holy Week and Easter in Malta

Easter is a festive, religious and emotional time for both locals and tourists. It is thus no surprise that one find tourists wondering around the towns and villages during the various processions and pageants that take place during the weeks preceding Easter. They try to capture everything that’s happening around them on cameras.

Within the churches, celebrations become truly alive with colours, ornaments, flowers and a great number of devotees. One of the processions that is a crowd puller is the ‘Addolorata’, mainly because people identify their own miseries, pain and suffering with those of Holy Mary’s. On Maundy Thursday several local devotees visit the ‘seven churches’ where they kneel, reflect and pray beside the tomb of Christ.

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Good Friday gives a sombre outlook where churches are deprived from the traditional ornamental style for a single day. The red colour, resembling the Blood of Christ, is splashed all over the churches. On Good Friday Malta is turned into Roman and Jewish pageantry. In the inner core of villages one comes across Pontius Pilate, Barabbas and other biblical characters during the renowned processions. People do some odd penitence such as carrying heavy weights or walking barefoot! Some even cover up their faces as they pay the price for a special grace they received.

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The atmosphere changes completely the following day in the evening. Celebrations start in pitch darkness. They are then illuminated by flickering candle lights. Finally there is an ‘explosion’ of light, where churches are suddenly illuminated with candles, chandeliers, bulbs and floodlights. Bells toll happily as they break the night’s silence in order to announce Christ’s resurrection, exactly when the singing of the ‘Glorja’ commences.

During these festivities there are some very special and unique Maltese delicacies. The ‘kwarezimal’ and the ‘figolli’ top the list. There are other food items such as the Lent’s ftajjar; Karamelli and hot cross buns. Although in Lent the traditional Maltese fast, yet the street vendors are as busy as bees in keeping up with the heavy demand!

Spend your Easter Holidays in Malta. Contact Our Concierge Desk during your stay and they will advise you on Where to Go and What to Do in Malta during your holidays.

Photo Credits: Viewing Malta & Mario Galea

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Buskett Gardens: one of the woodland areas in Malta

Buskett Malta

One of the greenest areas in Malta, the Buskett gardens are at their best in the spring but they also provide shade from the harsh mid-summer sun and offer a quiet place for a pleasant walk in the winter months.

The Buskett Gardens forming one of the few woodland areas in Malta, are located in the fertile valley of Wied il-Luq in Siġġiewi. The 30 ha site lies to the west of Siġġiewi (Città Ferdinand) and just east of Dingli. The Verdala Palace, an official residence of the President of Malta, stands on the edge of the Gardens.

The gardens are very popular with the Maltese people, who often go for walks in the peaceful settings or enjoy a picnic in the shade of the trees. The gardens serve as a venue for the Feast of Imnarja which is celebrated on 29 June. Hundreds of people flock there the previous evening, to eat the traditional Maltese dish of rabbit stew cooked in wine, to listen to traditional folk music and singing, and to enjoy the annual agricultural show in the morning.

The gardens contain broad-leaved deciduous woodland, native coniferous woodland with sclerophyllous garrigue and maquis shrubland, as well as groves of fruit trees. Many different trees and shrubs grow in the gardens, including numerous fruit-bearing trees.

 Verdala Palace

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The Verdala Palace is perched on a hilltop adjoining and overlooking Buskett Gardens. It was built by Grand Master Hughes de Verdalle in 1588 as a summer residence. Following restoration, this elegant building now serves as the President’s summer residence. The palace is not open to the public, but it does offer a notable landmark visible clearly from Dingli Cliffs, towering as it does over the Buskett woodland.

Cart Ruts

The cart ruts are prehistoric grooves hewn on the rock face, some ten to sixty centimetres deep and fifteen to twenty five centimetres wide. They are generally found in parallel pairs, about one and a half metres apart. No written record was ever found to explain their origin or purpose. Sharp hand tools made out of granite and dating back to pre-history were discovered in the vicinity of the cart ruts. Granite is not a mineral found on the Maltese Islands. Such tools indicate that they were imported, and may have been the tools that the cart ruts were crafted with. No exact date can be given, but in some areas Punic tombs have been hewn on top of the cart ruts. Furthermore, at Birzebbuga they proceed below sea level and at Dingli cliffs they stop abruptly on a cliff edge. This may be an indication that they must have been created before the Island took its current shape.

Their concentration, overlapping each other like train rails, at this particular site in Buskett, led to believe that this must have been a very busy communication network. It was nicknamed Clapham Junction after a busy railway station in Britain.

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: Viewing Malta

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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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