Walks to discover a village
Walk 2
Approx. 45 mins - 1.39km

Church and Village Core

This tour begins with a visit to the parish church and then takes one down Triq il-Kbira, through Triq San Gorġ, into Triq id-Dejqa, into Triq Gużeppi Stivala, up to the Windmill and back to Triq l-Imdina, then to Triq is-Salib, and back through Triq il-Kbira to Pjazza Vittorja.

Your visit to the church (1) depends on the time you are beginning the tour since the church is not open between noon and 16.00 hours. Alternatively it can be visited at the end of the tour depending on the time you begin.

The church was built between 1616 and 1630 replacing a number of smaller churches/chapels, one of which served as the parish church. Originally in the form of a cross, the church was enlarged at the beginning of the 20th century by the building of side aisles. This also necessitated the building of a new façade. Unfortunately this enthusiasm for embellishing the church was carried over to the ceiling which was completely redecorated with new sculptures in the form of a system of crosses. You can still see a line of the old sculptured ceiling at the ends of the two transepts. These are simple pointed quadrants very much like the ceiling in the old church of St Mary in Birkirkara, built at the same time.

Among the embellishments which are not to be missed in this church is the organ balcony; the wonderfully decorated Rosary altar encompassing the whole face of the left transept; the main altar with its fine marbles the stucco figures representing the four evangelists just below the dome; the choir apse, the work of Lorenzo Gafa; and most impressively the wrought-iron work especially the chancel gate and the lectern in the choir. Among the paintings the titular at the back of the choir is attributed to the school of Mattia Preti, with the two others on each of its sides being by Guido Reni. Francesco Zahra is well represented by a number of paintings, especially noticeable being the St Lawrence in the first chapel on the right and Our Lady of the Rosary on the altar in the left transept.

You may also find it interesting to visit the small museum at the back of the church which houses the Good Friday processional statues. The church Museum lies upstairs in the same building.

Leave the church through the side door in the right nave, the one next to the statue of the Baby Madonna. Having crossed the street, you come in front of the football club, the former Armoury building (2). Keep walking down and you enter Triq il-Kbira. Previously this was known as Strada Reale, and it was the main street leading towards Valletta. In the 1720s, when the parish priest first began to refer to streets by name, he normally divided this street into parts. This upper part he referred to as the part from the parish house to the church square. In fact as you walk further down this street, the first important building you will meet on the left side, is the Parish House (3). This is an old building dating back to 1736. It has a typical Maltese structure with a central yard surrounded by the various living rooms and a garden at the back. Note the wonderfully-sculptured stones at the top of this one-storied house. Originally these formed the organ balcony of the old parish church before the new façade was built in the early 20th century.

A little further down on the same side is a big house (4) with steps leading up to it. This must have belonged to an important person, possibly a knight. Notice the sculptured balcony. Unfortunately the nice wooden upper part was removed some years ago when the building served as a police station. Previous to that, it housed the village primary school for many years. Note the small door at street level beneath the steps. During the war this underground area served as a maternity hospital!

Now take the street to your left, Triq San Ġorg. A little further into this street is an old house right at the corner with Triq id-Dejqa to your right. This was the home of the tax collector in 17th /18th centuries. The parish priest used to refer to this street as Strada del Fiscale (Street of the Tax Collector). The houses opposite this house were built at the end of the19th century. They replaced the garden which had been built at the beginning of that century at the request of Sir Alexander Ball. In some other villages such gardens are still extant.

Walk down the narrowest street in the village with 16th and 17th century houses on both sides. In 1725 it was already being referred to as Strada Stretta. When you reach the end of the street turn left into Triq Gużeppi Stivala.

Most of the houses on the left side of this street were built at the turn of the 20th century. But there are a number of very old ones on the other side. One of these, recently restored, has been dated to 1676! In it lived a family of whom three male members served on the galleys. In fact an excellent graffito of a galley can be seen in the entrance hall. Walk further up to the windmill (5), another of the five that can be counted in the village. This particular one was still functioning in the 1920s. Opposite the windmill are to be found a number of government schools. Note also that this  upper part of the street at the Telgħa ta’ l-Għaqba (Għaqba Hill) is actually cut deep into the Globigerina limestone. This levelling of the street took place in the 1880s after a request by the people of the village. This was the street leading to Valletta.

Retrace your steps back through Triq Gużeppi Stivala up to the church of the Immaculate Conception (6) and turn into Triq l-Imdina. The church was built in the early years of the 18th century and is the newest of the old churches of the village. Today it is looked after by the Dominican Sisters whose convent adjoins the church. Going down Triq l-Imdina, you are actually in the heart of the mediaeval hamlet of Ħal Dgħif, the village of Dgħif, this being then the surname of probably the most important person. This street was so called because it led towards the old capital which could be seen from the end of the street. When you reach the small square, turn to the right into Triq is-Salib. Originally in this area there were two old chapels dedicated to Our Lady, which chapels disappeared after being profaned in 1659. Very probably, as was customary then, a cross was built to show the place where the churches stood. This would be the reason of naming the street Cross Street. Having reached the upper part of the street, walk straight on not taking the street on the left. The next part of Triq is-Salib has indeed some very old buildings.

At the end of the street, turn left into Triq il-Kbira again. Here too are a number of very old houses with typical open stone balconies. A little further up, on the left side are a number of seemingly new houses. These were built towards the end of the 19th century. This area was then known as Fuq l-Ibjar, on the reservoirs. In fact there stood a number of wells at the inner end of these houses some of which are still in existence.

Walk up to the former police station building and then to the left up towards the square. You are back where you began.

Points of Interest

Village Church
The Old Armoury (today the Football club)
The Parish House
The big house
Windmill (Telgha tal-Ghaqba)
Chapel of the Immaculate Conception