Sliema Tourist Attractions
To the north Gzira merges imperceptibly into Sliema (pop. 20,000), the largest, most modern and busiest Maltese town. It is Malta's a principal shopping and tourist center, with many hotels, restaurants and cafes flanking its long seafront promenade and beach (mostly stony). It has a fine Romanesque style church, St Gregory's. Southeast of the town a Fort Tigné, built by the Knights in 1730.The suburb of Sliema began as a fishing settlement, but by the end of the 19th century it grew into a summer retreat.The backstreets have a handful of the graceful turn-of-the century villas that once made up the town. The town is also known for its great shopping, especially Mrabat Street, the head of Balluta Bay, Tower Road and Dragut Point.
Heading east from the Balluta side of St Julian's Tower to the end of Tigne Beach is more than three kilometers of mostly smooth rock beach.From inside Balluta Bay to the Tower is the Torri and Exiles beach. Next is a long stretch extending past the Surfside Lido known as Font Ghadir. Along this stretch are uniform squares hewn out of the rock, which used to be the private summer pools for the ladies of Sliema. Next is Ghar id-Dud. The rocks are not so smooth here and if there is a swell the waves can crash around viciously. Left towards Tigne on the northeast peninsula is Qui-Si-Sana and the final stretch of beach is called Tigne Beach. At the far end is the Union Club Lido where young boys are initiated into the ethos of Latin machismo by diving from the tops of the rocks into the sea.
Silema's four parishes celebrate Our Lady of the Sea, or Stella Maris, on the Sunday after August 18. Our Lady of the Sacred Heart or Sacro Cuor is celebrated on the first Sunday in July. St Gregory the Great is celebrated on the first Sunday in September. St Domenic is honored on the third Sunday in July.
On the Ghar id-Dud stands this coastal defense, which has been converted into a pizzeria. This was the old Sliema Point Battery, built by the British in 1872. The Gothic-style doors and vaulting remain, as does the tower, which was added in 1905 as an observation station.
Tigne Fort, built in 1792, was the last of the Valletta defenses to be commissioned and it was intended to be a secondary foil to the might of Fort St Elmo.The 15 cannons of the diamond-shaped fort, when fired with those of Fort St Elmo, were meant to foil the attempts of enemies trying to occupy Marsamxett Harbor.
Church of the Sacred Heart
This church houses an evocative altarpiece of the emaciated St Jerome in his cave, with only death's head, a bible and a cross for company. Generally acknowledged to be Guiseppe Cali's masterpiece, it is a powerful and indoctrinating image.