Walks to discover a village
Walk 4
Approx. 2½ hours - 9km

Out in the Countryside

This tour, although within Naxxar territory, begins from Burmarrad. Take the route bus to Mellieha and alight at the first stage in Burmarrad. A secondary road takes you to Tal-Qadi temple, then towards Salina by St Michael’s chapel, and on to the Coast Road. Along this road you will encounter a number of historical sites: the Catacombs, Ximenes’s redoubt, the Fougasse, Għallis Tower, Qalet Marku Tower, the Dolmens at Magħtab.

The tour begins from Burmarrad church. Cross the street on the left side of the church and take the secondary road next to the garden shop.

After a few hundred metres, and after crossing a small bridge, you will see a number of mulberry trees on the right side of the road. These trees were planted early in the 19th century when there was an attempt to establish a silk industry. Walk a little further and take the first turning to the left leaving the main road into Triq l-Imdawra. In Roman times the sea probably extended up to this point. This is the reason for the flat area that you see to your left.

It was all formed from deposits from the rain water coming down from the higher areas in the Mdina/Rabat area.

About a 100 metres into this road you should see a British government property stone pillar (1) with the letters GR (George Rex) standing for King George. These were put up soon after the British arrived on the island and they designated areas which were previously the property of the Order and which passed to the British government.

After about 700 metres into Triq l-Imdawra, take the fourth turning to the right next to some palm trees. Go uphill for about 100 metres and you should come to the Tal-Qadi (2) ruins. These are remains of a Neolithic temple. Like the temple at Bugibba, this one had a relationship to the sea, it was very probably close to the shoreline. The site was first excavated in 1927 by Sir Temi Zammit. Unfortunately very little remains to give any clear indications, but the form of two apses is evident. Walk back down to the road and turning right, continue towards Salina. Before reaching the Coast Road at a point opposite Kennedy Grove, you will come to a small chapel (3). This is dedicated to St Michael. A church dedicated to St Michael is already referred to in 1618 by Bishop Cagliares when it was profaned. The present chapel was built in 1652 from contributions from the people of Naxxar many of whom worked fields in this area. Its recent restoration was financed by a private individual.

This country road reaches the main road, Triq il-Kosta, by the Salina Salt Pans (4). These salt pans were built by the Knights at the beginning of the 17th century and were an important industry. When you reach the road leading to Naxxar, turn into it and then walk immediately towards another chapel (5). This one is dedicated to the Annunciation. Notice the buttressed side walls, built in 1776 because the walls were sliding out. Walk beyond the chapel and on the right side you should see a sign saying To the Catacombs (6). Going through the fields you will come up to a clutter of Paleo-Christian catacombs cut in the hard coralline limestone. In one of these you can also see a fine example of an agape table. A little further away from these is a much finer hypogea with handsomely decorated canopy tombs. This is normally closed. There are many such tombs in this area which fact gives rise to the possibility of a community living in this harbour area in the early years of Christianity on the islands.

Walk down back to the Coast Road by turning right and along the salt pans. More or less where the salt pans end, but on the other side of the road, is an old building. This is known as Ximenes’s Redoubt (7) built during the time of this grand master as a fortification. A little further from this, towards the Coastline Hotel is a fine example of a fougasse (8). This is a massive rock-hewn stone-firing mortar, intended to protect the entrance to the bay. You have to walk up to this from the road area. There was another one of these on the opposite side of the bay.

Continuing the walk along the Coast Road, one reaches the Għallis Tower (9), one of the De Redin towers built in the 17th century. This particular one was the second to be built in 1658. In recent years it was restored by Din L-Art Ħelwa. Such towers were built in strategic positions along the coast. Another tower, built earlier during the reign of Grand Master Lascaris-Castellar, can be seen on the opposite side of the entrance to the bay on Qawra point.

The next interesting point on the Coast Road is the area between the road and the sea at the next turning of the road. This is known as Għadira s-Safra (10), (the Yellow Pool), a typical marshland where a source of fresh water encounters seawater. This area is particularly important because of its ecological value. The acacias on the other side of the road are actually alien to the Maltese islands and were ‘imported’ by the north-westerly wind.

At the next turning of the road, going a little uphill, one can still see the remains of another redoubt (11) built by the knights. Unfortunately when the road was built most of the building was pulled down to make way. Walking further down the road, you will come to the sign pointing towards the little village of Magħtab. At the beginning of this road on the left is another marshland. Walk another 300/400 metres along the Magħtab road and parallel to the road on the right side there are three dolmens, known as the Ta’ Hammut dolmens (12). They are not very easy to find because they are low and not intact any more. But they are very important because they are a most remarkable group being the only examples to have furnished some evidence of dating. One is still in perfect condition. You should go beyond the only building there is on the right side of the road.

Walk back to the Coast Road and you face a small sandy beach. This is slowly disappearing as a result of the road building. Some 60 years ago the sand reached from one end to the other, but the action of the waves against the wall is slowly removing the sand.

When you reach the highest point at the turning of the road, turn left and walk towards the Qalet Marku tower (13). This is another De Redin tower also built in 1658. It has also been restored by Din L-Art Ħelwa. Enjoy the wonderful sea breeze while resting on the cement platform between the tower and the coast line. If you have brought a packed lunch with you, this is the place to eat it. It will taste like honey!

Now walk back to the Coast Road, and towards the little village of Bahar ic-Cagħaq or as the British called this area, Palm Beach. The building standing on its own next to the water today serving as a bar, was also a redoubt (14) built by the Order.

The tour ends here. One can now take the bus to Sliema or Valletta. The bus stage is only a little further up from the bar on the same side of the road.

Points of Interest

British property stone pillar
Tal-Qadi ruins
Chapel of St. Michael
Salina Salt Pans
Chapel dedicated to the Annunciation
The Catacombs
Ximenes Redoubt
Ghallis Tower
Ghadira s-Safra
Ta’ Hammut Dolmens
Tower of Qalet Marku
Bar (which was a redoubt)