L-Imġarr

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L-Imġarr

L-Imġarr is perhaps the loneliest village in Malta. Distanced from any other locality, it has retained its distinctive character and serenity. Its coastline extends from Fomm ir-Rih to Ghajn Tuffieha Bay and in between there is the picturesque bay of Gnejna. Sheltered bays like Gnejna and Ghajn Tuffieha have over the centuries been a refuge to pirates and because of this, several towers had been built over the cliffs of Mgarr. One of the still existing is the Lippija Tower which Grand Master Lascaris built in 1657 to protect Gnejna and the few families living at Mgarr.

Mgarr became a parish in 1893 when the population stood at around 700. Prior to that, it formed part of the Mosta Parish since 1610. The first parish priest was Monsignor Glormu Chetcuti who laid the foundations of one of the most impressive churches on the island. Contributions for the erection of the church included 5,700 fowl, 920 swine, 620 rabbits, 600 lambs and goats, 13 calves and 360,000 eggs. The church itself is shaped like an egg and the not so perfect oval design was so unusual that no architect dared design it until Gamri Camilleri – the roofer and Mr John A Cilia – the headmaster volunteered to do the job which proved to be a masterpiece.

The villagers are totally devoted to their patron- the Blessed Virgin. The M for Mary dominates the parish coat-of-arms which was designed by the much beloved Salomone who served as parish priest from 1931 to 1954. The village festa is celebrated on the first Sunday after August 15. Carrying the statue during the procession is such an honour that bearers pledge offerings which are distributed among charitable and missionary institutions and the rest go for the upkeep of the Church.

Mgarr has some of the oldest known places of worship. Skorba temples, consisting of two distinct temples, are so old that they have been entered in the Guinness Book of Records as one of the two oldest free-standing structures in the world. The West Temple dated to about 3500BC and is about 60 feet square. It is built on a trefoil plan with three apsidal chambers and a courtyard in the middle. Some of the walls are four feet thick. The East temple is not so old and is neither preserved so well. Another important set of megalithic structures is at Ta’ Hagrat. These consist of two temples and the basic format is again a trefoil plan and a central courtyard. The larger temple has a spectacular massive facade. Cart ruts can be found all over the Village.

Not so old are the Thermal Roman Baths near Ghajn Tuffieha. The baths fromed part of a villa which included statues and amphorae. Powerful members of high-ranking Roman families came frequently to Malta and used this Villa as a stopover on their way to Colonies on the North African coast.

The Southern boundary of Mgarr is formed by the Great Ridge and the Victoria Lines, a fortified 19th Century wall. The Victoria Line was completed in 1897, the year of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. The long stretch is punctuated with watch towers, batteries, gun posts and various strongholds. Four forts are positioned along the lines, Madliena Fort, Fort Mosta, Bingemma Fort and Fort Pembroke.

The Population calculated at end of March 2002 stood at 3068.

The Municipal offices are situated opposite the Parish Church and the first Council took office on 1st February 1994. The Council is composed of the Mayor, the Vice-Mayor and three councillors. The Visitor who tracks away to this little village will undoubtedly find an extended hand and a warm smile to meet him. The Council is working hard to keep the integrity, serenity and character of the village which rightly befits its motto “ Small, with a Big-Heart”.

           
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