Marsaxlokk Bay is Malta’s second largest natural harbour. It is the best place to see the colourful, traditional Maltese fishing boats, the Luzzus, with the mythical eye painted on their prows.
The village is the Islands’ main fishing harbour; its Sunday fish market a fascinating insight into local life and a traditional industry. The stalls brim with the night’s catch – fish of all shapes, colours and sizes. The village itself has many good fish restaurants. Marsaxlokk derives its name from the Arabic word marsa, meaning harbour, and Maltese for the south-easterly Mediterranean wind, the Xlokk (Sirocco in Italian). Marsaxlokk, with its sheltered habour, was an easy landing place for pirates and the Ottoman Turks. It was here that the Ottoman Turks landed for an attack which ended in the Great Siege of 1565. Napoleon’s army landed here in 1798; and in recent times, the harbour was the scene of the Bush-Gorbachev Summit,1989.
The headland to the left of the Bay is Delimara Point. It has two attractive, secluded rocky inlets suitable for swimming: Peter’s Pool; and the furthermost part of the headland. Fort Delimara, on the west of the peninsula, was built by the British in 1881 to guard the entrance to Marsaxlokk Bay.
A most stunning natural swimming pool in Malta, St. Peter’s Pool is closely located to Marsaxlokk at the tip of Delimara Point in the south west of Malta. St. Peter’s Pool is not the easiest place to find but it is on the way to Marsaxlokk Bay. Located in a small bay on the Delimara peninsula, St. Peter’s Pool is just off the tall chimney tower next to Marsaxlokk Bay.
Crystal clear with a beautiful azure and light green colour, this area offers plenty of opportunities for snorkeling. The flat rocks around the pool provide the ideal opportunity for sunbathing while the high rocks will shield you from the strong sun rays. Ladders are available for access to the sea but there is also the added option of diving into the waters for the more adventurous bathers. St. Peter’s Pool is highly popular with the locals living in the nearby villages as well as for tourists looking for a more remote location to spend their day. Due to its secluded position, it is rarely crowded and you can easily find a spot for yourself. Just make sure to bring whatever you need for your day out as there are no facilities available. This natural swimming pool may not be suitable for small children at times when it is windy.
“This morning we come about half past five, you know. Not much today. The waves come in and make salt. We start from May up till September and always depends on the weather. The big one there; 20% salt, better than nothing. It takes 5 days, 7 days, but it always depends on the weather, the wind and the water. This is my land. It belong in our relations, 170 years. That’s my part, from that part to the edge of somebody else’s. But once it was one.” Emmanuel Cini, Salter. Żebbuġ, Gozo, 30 August 2014.
The Citadel in Gozo owes its roots to the late medieval era, but the hill has been settled since Neolithic times. After the Great Siege of 1565, the Knights set about re-fortifying it to provide refuge and defence against further attack. Until 1637, the Gozitan population was required by law to spend their nights within the Citadel for their own safety. In later, more peaceful times, this restriction was lifted and people settled below its walls, creating the prosperous town of Rabat, now known as Victoria.
Marsalforn, meaning ‘bakery harbour’, is Gozo’s main seaside town. During the summer, it becomes a bustling, lively resort. There is a small but pleasant sandy bank on the harbour with safe bathing and good rocky coastline towards Qbajjar which is excellent for snorkelling.
The resort has a good range of accommodation from seafront self-catering apartments to hotels. Marsalforn is characterised by its harbour-side cafes and restaurants, many serving fresh fish. The small harbour is the main port for a fleet of traditional ‘luzzijiet’ trawlers and smaller fishing boats. The beauty of Marsalforn is its relaxed atmosphere, even in the height of summer.
Salt-pans are reputed to have been used here since Roman times. Salt was a valuable commodity in earlier times; Roman soldiers were sometimes paid with salt – this is the origin of the English word “salary”. The Northern Coast of Gozo proved very suitable for this purpose because it had extensive flat stretches of coastal limestone into which basins and channels could be cut by hand. The hot summer climate with strong drying winds was also an important factor. The basic production process is simple; in early summer seawater is fed into a series of shallow basins through a system of hand-dug channels. After concentration and evaporation by wind and sun during the hot summer months, the white sea-salt can be collected and bagged.
To the south of Marsalforn is a fertile valley named after the village. The valley is bounded by several hillocks and used to be known as the “haven of hillocks”. The most famous of these is tas-Salvatur (Our Saviours Hill) also referred locally as Tal-Merzuq Hill (Ray of Light) due to the legends surrounding it, recorded by Giovanni Abela in the 17th Century.
This volcano like hill has acquired the attention of the people since 1901, when a large wooden cross was erected on its peak. Three years later, when Gozo was consecrated to Christ the Saviour, a stone statue of Christ replaced the cross. This was in turn replaced by a gigantic concrete statue towering twelve meteres above the hill, which remains to this day.
This hill can be seen from much of Gozo, topped with a statue of the Risen Christ. This statue was placed here in the 1970s and sits 320-foot on the top of Tal-Merżuq Hill (now popularly know as Tas-Salvator – The Redeemer). This is a place of popular religious myth and legend. According to tradition, black smoke was once been seen coming out of the hill and this led to the belief that it was a volcano. Some still believe this although geologists dismiss the idea as nonsense. Another legend says that God punished the people of Gozo by engulfing the Island in darkness for three whole days. At the end of these three days a ray of light (merżuq) was seen coming out of the hill (hence the name Tal-Merżuq).
A statue of Christ was first put on the hill in 1904 when Gozo was consecrated to Jesus the Redeemer (leading to the popular name Tas-Salvatur) . It replaced a wooden cross that had been erected even earlier. The first statue of Christ was not resistant to the elements, however, and had to be replaced in the 1960s. The second statue was also destroyed – this time when its supporting pedestal gave way during a thunderstorm. Parts of this statue can still be seen strewn around the hilltop. Today’s statue is made of reinforced concrete and is so far surviving well!
Fungus Rock is one of a trio of spectacular natural landmarks in Dwejra, along with the famous Azure Window and The Inland Sea.
The Rock – known in Maltese as Il-Gebla Tal-General (or General’s Rock) is a small islet in the form of a 60 metres high massive lump of limestone situated right at the entrance to an almost circular lagoon.
During the times of the Knights, it was thought that a particular tuber which grows on this little island had medicinal properties and could cure various ailments. So much so that the Grandmaster declared it illegal for anyone other than authorised knights to climb onto the rock and pick the plant, Today, tests are being conducted to verify whether these medical claims have any foundation.