A brief introduction to the sunny maltese archepelago

A brief introduction to the sunny Maltese Archepelago

Few other countries can boast such concentrated history, architecture, as well as beaches in so tiny an area. Malta is perfect for travelers looking to take it easy for a fortnight, see most of the sights, yet not travel very far.

The Maltese Islands cover a land area of only 316 sq. km, smaller than the Isle of Wight in the UK,  but just a little larger than Washington, D.C. There are three inhabited islands- Malta, Gozo and Comino, as well as 2 uninhabited islets, Cominotto and Filfla. They are located in the central Mediterranean Sea, 93 km. south of Sicily, 290 km. east of Tunisia and 290 km. north of Libya. Malta’s petite size, allows the casual tourist to accomplish a lot of sightseeing in a very short time. The recommended pace is slow and easy, especially in the hot summer months. Take your time to let the history set in from the ramparts of Valletta or Mdina.

Malta has a fascinating history, and the island is crowded with physical and cultural reminders of the past, most easily accessible to visitors. It is probable that Malta was once connected to the Sicily and Southern Europe via a land bridge. This is due to the fossilized remains of various animals, including a type of elephant in a cave, Ghar Dalam.

The oldest free-standing structures in the world can be found in the Maltese Islands. These megalithic temples were built between 3600 and 2500 BC, close to a 1000 years before the Great Pyramids!

Malta was originally colonized by the Phoenicians, from roughly 800 to 218 BC. It was administered by Carthage, in present day Tunisia, until its demise at Roman hands. One can still see the Phoenician influence on Maltese society today by the ever present “eye of Osiris” painted on the wooden fishing boats, called luzzi, to ward off evil spirits. The marble altar of St. Paul’s Cathedral in the ancient capital, Mdina, was built from the ruins of Carthage. One last reminder of the Phoenicans for today’s traveller is the glass blowing craftsman using a technique perfected thousands of years ago, in Ta’Qali Crafts  Village.

Under Roman rule, Malta became a municipium (free town) and appears to have prospered through trade as an outpost of Roman Sicily. In 60 AD, St. Paul was shipwrecked in Malta and converted the local population to Christianity. As such, the Maltese rightfully claim to be one of the oldest Christian societies in the world. Maltese society is still greatly influenced by the Roman Catholic Church.

There are 64 Catholic parishes and 313 Catholic churches on Malta, and 15 Catholic parishes and 46 Catholic churches on Gozo.  These range from full cathedrals down to tiny wayside chapels was built between the 15th and 20th centuries. Each parish has a lively festa or feast which is a noisy and colorful expression of worship. The festa includes a parade by the local band club and a pyrotechnics display. The festa season runs throughout the summer. Over the past 250 years, simple village feast has transformed from an afternoon into a five day spectacle. A trip to Malta is not complete without visiting one.

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Опубликовано 23 Mar 2011 в 11:49 pm. Рубрика: A. Вы можете следить за ответами к этой записи через RSS.
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