Southwest Coast, Malta Attractions
The southwest coast is a friendly area with a slow tempo. The landscape is wild and beautiful, with cliffs and grottos.
Hagar Qim Temple
Hagar Qim Temple was discovered in 1839 under mounds of dirt. The facade has been restored and features two upright stones that support one stone lintel. A number of items were moved to the Malta Archeological Museum.
Filfla is an uninhabited and somewhat foreboding rocky islet, eight kilometers offshore and clearly visible from the southwestern cliffs. According to legend, the evil inhabitants of nearby Il Maqluba so displeased God that he tore the ground from beneath them and sent them crashing through to hell. Not even hell could hold them and in desperation the devil threw the depraved sinners (and the earth, trees etc.) out of hell and back into the night sky. The tangled mass of rock, vegetation and godless souls landed in the sea and created Filfla.
Xarolla Windmill, Safi, Malta
Safi is the smallest village in the area. Here, more than anywhere else in the area, the North American stamp is evident. The palm trees are tall and some of the buildings have forecourts with aromatic plants and herbs.In the main square, centru pastoirali, the streets are lined with palm trees.Between Safi and Zurrieq is the Xarolla Windmill. It was introduced in 1536, 200 years before the others in the region. The Order maintained the mill to grind corn and it was still operational until the 1970s.
Cave of Ascension
This "Cave of Ascension" was a fishermen's secret hiding hole until a direct road replaced the path and it is often referred to as Siggiewi's beach. It is also a good spot for diving.At the bottom of the steep steps and slipway at the water's edge are fishermen's luzzus. The caves and easy access from the little jetties and rocks into the water make it a favorite with swimmers and cave divers.This part of the coast is octopus territory.
The village of Dingli, at 240m, is the highest village on the island. The cozy farming community is at the end are the Dingli Cliffs. Tommasso Dingli, a noted 16th and 17th century Maltese architect, and Sir Thomas Dingley, an Englishman said to have had a house nearby in the 16th century, are given equal credit for the village's name.
No more than two kilometers from the Dingli cliffs, and sitting under the watchful eye of Cardinal Grand Master de Verdalle's summer retreat, are Buskett Gardens. Panoplies of foliage spread their shade over the valley floor, providing a welcome respite against the heat of summer. There are orange and cypress trees, irregular cactuses, leguminous carobs, aromatic firs and the Judas tree, which foretells Easter with its pink blossom (this is said to be the tree from which Judas hung himself).
The cliffs fall 260m to the sea and are a paradise for walkers. The cliff road stops alarmingly at the precipitous edge.During World War II a spy tried to infiltrate Malta from the Dingli Cliffs, but the cliffs proved too steep for him to climb. He was found, arrested and the British hanged him as a spy in 1942.The Chapel dedicated to Ste Mary Magdalene was built in 1646 near the cliffs. A mass is held here every July.
This is the nickname given to the largest convergence of Bronze Age cart ruts yet discovered in Malta. Dating to 1500 B.C. these parallel concave grooves are 1.5 meters apart and 40-60 cm deep, cut or worn into the coralline stone. Cart ruts occur in Malta and Gozo, as well as in parts of Sicily and Greece, especially where outcrops of hard stone are found.Their origin and use is still a mystery. It is believed that the ruts were a complex series of tracks for people to drag their goods around on stone-shod carts, but this does not explain why some of the tracks disappear off the cliffs' edge.
Ghar il-Kbir, 200 meters from Clapham Junction, is the last troglodyte cave in Malta. It was inhabited until the 1830s, when the British forcibly moved the "cavemen" to Siggiewi.
Kirkop - Church of St Leonard
This church was rebuilt in the 18th century and is a narrow gutted building with two bell-towers which squeeze all but the cupola on the dome out of view. The remains of St Benedict were donated to the church by Pope Pius in 1790 and are held inside.
This is the largest of the four villages in the area. It is the center of the quarry area and has narrow streets leaning inwards, much like North African streets. The George V Band Club was built in 1910 and still stands today, next to the parish Church of the Assumption. Behind this is the 16th century Church of St Basil.
Buskett or Boshetto (little wood), as the knights called it, is the only woodland area in Malta and is overlooked by the Verdala Castle.
Cardinal Grand Master de Verdalle commissioned the Verdala Castle, and it stands on a hard rock overlooking the Boshetto, from which he could see nearly all his archipelago.The design of the three-story castle is credited to Gerolamo Cassar and construction began in 1586. Initially, all the castle's stone was quarried from the site and the excavations formed the existing dry moat. In each of the four corners is a bastioned tower, which rises above the top floor. At the garden entrance there is an elaborate balustrade and a gigantic escutcheon.Inside the main door there is a marble bust of Cardinal Grand Master de Verdalle.The ceiling above the ground floor is by Paladini, whose frescoes show the high points of de Verdalle's illustrious life. Note the broad shallow steps of the beautiful oval staircase. In the adjoining hall are two chessboards carved into the stone floor. The bastioned towers are divided into passages, grim little cells and torture chambers for anyone who fell foul of the Grand Master. From the roof you can see most of Malta, as well as the southern Ta'Cenc cliffs of Gozo.
Chapel of St Anthony the Hermit
In the gardens of the Verdala Castle is the chapel of St Anthony the Hermit, built at the end of the 16th century. The work by Preti, "The Madonna and Child", is in need of restoration.
This festa takes place on June 7. It celebrates the end of the harvest with a jamboree of picnics, music and dance in the gardens of Buskett.