Heritage and Places of Interest
Mellieha has a lot to offer to visitors in addition to it’s popular sandy beach. It’s elevated position affords magnificent and breathtaking views. Mellieha’s culture and history goes back to megalithic times and also features Punic Roman and Palaeo-Christian tombs. Cart ruts can be found in several garigue areas around Mellieħa and the legendary nymph Calypso also features in the Mellieħa history. The Mellieħa Sanctuary dates back to around 1000-1100AD and it bears Byzantine style characteristics. Mellieha has a magnificent perched parish church together with other churches and chapels. Fortifications include the Red Tower, Fort Campbell and other towers. You’ll also find a number of World War II shelters, some of which are open to the public.
Popeye Village overlooking Anchor Bay is another attraction which generates a lot of interest with tourists. It has grown from it’s days as a film set for the 1980 movie ‘Popeye’ and is filled with a number of colorful fun activities for the young and young at heart. The whole family can be part of a unique filming experience with the animation crew, giving you the opportunity to see yourself on the big screen.
St. Paul’s Bay has always played a very important part in the history of Malta and goes back 6000 years. Although this locality is not known for its archaeological and historical importance, it holds a number of heritage sites, the oldest of which are 7 prehistoric tombs, two Neolithic temples, ancient cart-ruts, Punic tombs and other bronze-age remains. The shipwreck of St. Paul in the year 60AD is a very important event that changed Malta’s history with St. Paul’s Bay island as a permanent reminder.
With the arrival of the Knights, the north of the island saw the construction of forts, trenches, batteries, redoubts and towers. Grandmaster Wignacourt built his tower in 1610; another tower was built in Qawra in 1637 with Mistra Battery being built in 1653 and 2 redoubts in Xemxija were constructed in 1715. Two fougasses were dug on either side of Salina Bay in 1740 in order to bombard enemy attackers with stones and rocks, one of Malta’s very few natural resources.
In addition, Wardija and it’s vicinity including San Martin, offers rural and scenic beauty. There are various chapels in the area including San Pawl Milqi. There is an interesting chapel in Wardija as well as the Wardija battery. The Agricultural Heritage Museum in San Martin is probably unknown to most visitors, likewise the Grotto and Chapel there.
On the eastern edge of Bajda Ridge overlooking Xemxija, within an area barely measuring half a square kilometer, a wide variety of archaeological sites are concentrated, ranging from the neolithic age more than 5500 years ago through Punic and Roman times. The area is well cared for and organised into an interesting heritage trail which starts along an uphill road dating back to the Roman era then cuts across the ridge, past ancient cave dwellings, tombs and apiaries, heading towards Mellieħa. In the Miżieb woodland to the west of the road are ruins of what may have been a megalithic temple.
To the east, one can head towards Punic tombs and more cave dwellings. Even further to the east, one comes across a prehistoric grain silo and a cluster of six rock-cut Neolithic tombs dating from the early temple period 5500 years ago. In the northeast overlooking Mistra Valley and Mistra Gate, beneath the cart ruts, one can find the Roman baths in an evocative setting on the cliff face.
Bajda Ridge is bound to the south by Pwales Valley and to the north by Miżieb and Mistra Valleys. From the top of this ridge, one can enjoy views of Xemxija Bay and St. Paul’s Bay in the distance.