The parish church of il-Qala was designed by Dun Ġużepp Diacono, the same architect-priest who designed the church of l-Għasri. It was constructed between 1882 and 1889, when he was serving as parish priest in il-Qala. The church is baroque in style, like many of Gozo’s churches (whether they were built in the seventeenth century or the twentieth!).
Il-Qala became a parish on 3rd February 1872, the first to be established after the creation of the Diocese of Gozo (separate from Malta). The seat of the parish church was the church of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady until St Joseph’s was completed in 1889. The church was consecrated in 1904 and became Archipresbyteral in 1965.
Mellieħa Bay is the largest beach of thirteen pocket beaches around Mellieħa. It is a sheltered beach between two headlands and is situated on the Northern part of the Island.
Its sand has a low gradient slope and together with its clear, shallow water makes it the most popular family beach on the island. Mellieħa Bay has most facilities and services including restaurants and two hotels. Some parts of the bay are designated for water sports and wind surfing. Beach management is operated between June and September by the Malta Tourism Authority with the cooperation of Mellieħa Local Council. It includes the services of lifeguards, a small First Aid clinic, two beach supervisors and a number of persons in charge of beach maintenance. It is an accessible beach furnished with a mobile toilet, wheelchair access and special sand wheelchair buggies for physically impaired bathers. In 2011 the beach was awarded a Beach of Quality Award. Mellieħa Bay has an old castle perched on one side while the old village of Mellieħa is situated high on the opposite side. The hinterland of Mellieħa Bay was once an important salt flat and wetland, known as L-Għadira. It is now a Nature Reserve that boasts of indigenous flora and fauna, and is popular with bird watchers who study local and migratory birds. Mellieħa Bay is also referred to as L-Għadira.
The Parish Church of Mellieha is dedicated to the Birth of Our Lady, and was built between 1881 and 1898. All the stone was cut from a nearby quarry at l-Ahrax tal-Mellieha and transported up to Mellieha by the local peasants, who worked laboriously to see their wish of having a new church come true. Once the church’s building was completed, the Parish Priests Dun Frangisk Magri, Dun Carlo Cortis and Dun Indri Fenech endeavoured to embellish the interior.
Thus between 1920 and 1940 the belfries and dome were erected, five bellsdedicated to St. Frances, St. Joseph, St. Anthony, St. Paul and the Virgin Marywere brought from Milan, and the church altars were decorated with paintings by the best Maltese artists, including the renowned Giuseppe Calì and Lazzru Pisani.
Many churches in Malta and Gozo have works of art made from this onyx but iż-Żebbuġ church is by far the most spectacular. It is covered with this semi-precious stone. The high altar, the choir, and the baptistery are all sculpted out of this onyx.
Iż-Żebbuġ became an independent parish in 1688 and the building of the present church (without the onyx) started in 1690. The church, dedicated to Santa Marija (St Mary) the Assumption, was consecrated in 1726. The Cathedral apart, it is the oldest parish church to be consecrated in Gozo.
Worthy of special mention is the altarpiece of the Immaculate Conception in a chapel in the left transept, known by the locals as tal-Virtut (of the miracles). Local folklore has it that the radiant face of the Virgin turns yellowish and pale before an impending natural catastrophe. It is also said that one day, when some corsairs dared to devastate the countryside as far as the village, a lady that resembled the image in the altarpiece appeared on the spot hurling stones to repel the enemy.
The Madonna Statue is located in front of the Immaculate Conception Chapel at the end of Marfa Ridge road. It was built in 1870 with an accompanying chapel which, legend has it, was built by a fisherman in thanks for surviving when his boat capsized. The original chapel was at one point in danger of collapsing so a new one was built in 1961. This is an idyllic spot for those searching for some untouched countryside, and is often used for picnics.
The parish church of Naxxar is dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary and was built by Tumas Dingli between 1616 and 1630. Later on, the church was enlarged and restored with a side isle and a new façade.
The church is built over the ditch of the Roman city which also included a large part of Rabat. The church is also built over the grotto where according to tradition St. Paul was kept prisoner during his three months stay in Malta in 60 A.D. In 1336 bishop Hilarius refers to the church as ecclesia Sancti Pauli de crypta , and also mentions the cemetery and the Roman ditch. Several churches have been built on the site both by the diocese and the Knights of St. John. The present church was built with funds provided by the noble woman Guzmana Navarra on plans prepared by F. Bonamico. The church was completed by Lorenzo Gafà in 1683.