Last Wednesday I shared just the morning of our recent visit to Malta. After enjoying a little coffee break at Caffe Cordina, we met up with our driver and headed toward Ħaġar Qim next.
We made a quick pit stop along the way to see the Blue Grotto, a collection of sea caverns on the south east coast of Malta.
According to Wikipedia, ‘the location of the caves, combined with the rays of sunlight, lead to the seawater mirroring and showing numerous shades of blue on the cave walls and ceilings.’
Several caverns also mirror the brilliant phosphorescent colors of the underwater flora and fauna.
Even just looking down from above we could see the brilliant blue color of the water. You can take a boat into the caves and I imagine that is quite beautiful.
But we didn’t have time for a boat ride. We were headed to Ħaġar Qim. By the way, Ħaġar Qim has an interesting pronunciation. The “Q” is silent. Mr. Q got a big kick out of that for some reason, apparently he thinks the “Q” should be silent more often 😉
This megalithic temple complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and dates to 3600 to 3200 B.C.
Obviously no records exist that explain how these temples were used, but it seems to be widely accepted that rituals of some kind took place in them whether they were fertility rituals or some other sort of ceremonies possibly involving animal sacrifices (numerous bones of animals have been found, but I like to think that they were just having lots of barbecues!).
One of the prehistoric chambers at Ħaġar Qim contains an elliptical hole which is hewn out in alignment with the Summer Solstice sunrise. At sunrise, on the first day of summer, the sun’s rays pass through the hole and illuminate a stone slab inside the chamber.
So maybe they weren’t just hosting barbecues after all.
It’s fascinating to see these sort of structures and to wonder how in the world people managed to build them without any sort of power tools whatsoever. Compared to that, my little home decorating to-do list from Monday seems like a cake walk, right?
Leaving the temples behind, we next headed to the small, traditional fishing village of Marsaxlokk for lunch.
Unfortunately, the day had been growing steadily more overcast and it started to rain just as we arrived in Marsaxlokk so I didn’t get very many photos.
Their traditional fishing boats called luzzu were very brightly colored.
We had lunch with our guide in a local restaurant and of course we had to order the fish. I’m not usually a fan of fish, but this was delicious.
After lunch we headed to Mdina. Mdina is a fortified city that was founded in around the 8th century. It was the capital of Malta until 1530. We entered the city through the Mdina Gate, designed by the French architect Charles Francois de Mondion in 1724.
Once again, since I don’t actually happen to have a drone, I am going to borrow a photo from the world wide web to show you just how amazing this walled city looks from above.
The church that you can see on the right hand side of the photo above with the big dome and two belfries is St. Paul’s Cathedral.
You may remember that last week I wrote about the Co-Cathedral in Valletta and explained that there was already a cathedral in this diocese which is why that one is called a Co-Cathedral. Well, St. Paul’s is the first cathedral.
Mdina is nicknamed The Silent City, and according to Wikipedia that may be partially because the number of vehicles allowed inside the city walls are limited to residents, emergency vehicles and ‘wedding parties’. I found it amusing that the Wikipedia entry specified ‘wedding parties’, and thus I’m guessing that St. Paul’s Cathedral is a popular spot for weddings. Can’t you just imagine the gorgeous wedding photo ops in this lovely place?
OK, just for fun I had to google some.
Yep, just as I imagined, gorgeous.
I didn’t happen to see any wedding parties while I was there, so my street shots are mainly empty.
Between being there in the off-season, and in the rain, Mdina certainly deserved its nickname of The Silent City during our visit.
While wandering around the labyrinth of passages we passed a door with this absolutely amazing knocker …
That patina is so fantastic, I just had to share it with you guys.
We thoroughly enjoyed our tour of Mdina, and the rest of Malta. Now that you all know where it is, maybe you’ll put it on your travel bucket list.
If you are enjoying these travel posts, be sure to check back next week when we head to Montenegro!