Category Archives: Malta Sightseeing

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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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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