|Iż-Żebbuġ is situated about 3.5 km away from Rabat Citta' Vittoria, the capital of Gozo and is situated in the northern part of the island. Built on two major plateaus of ‘Ta’ Abram’ and ‘iż-Żebbug’ is considered to be the highest village in Gozo above sea level. Iż-Żebbuġ derives its name from a Maltese word olive tree or else from food products or tools which were used to produced olive oil.
This village name derives probably from the quantity of olive trees, which surrounded the village. However, nowadays such trees have become too scare. According to our ancestors, olive trees prospered on this slope due to the many water springs situated around the village
The motto of the village is ‘Terra Sublimis’ meaning elevated land, giving the best meaning of the village situated so high that can be easily seen from all parts of Gozo. Its coat of arms consists of a silver shield with an olive tree on a slope and on it a red band with three six pointed yellow stars.
From Iż-Żebbuġ one can admire a panoramic view of the island of Gozo and often the island of Sicily. The village is around 3.5 km long. The parish church is built almost in the center joining together two other slopes called ‘il-Ponta’ and ‘ix-Xagħra l-Kbira’. ‘Il-Ponta’ is the highest point, 126 meters above sea level. Looking around the slopes of ‘Ta’ Abram’ and ‘iż-Żebbug’ one can find interesting places like s-Sellum, Tat-Taflija, Ta’ Laveċċa, Tal-Birgu, Tal-Kanun, Ta’ Dun Wistin, Ta’ Ċikku, Ta’ Dilokka, Taċ-Ċaqra, Tal-Bugar, Ta’ Għajn Quċċat, Is-Sagħtrija, Ta’ Bembla, L-Għajn Mħelħel, Ta’ Tutijiet, Tal-Ħluq, Ta’ Gullu, Ta’ Milied, Ta’ Ġienju, Ta’ Abram u Ta’ Ċenċ.
The history of Iż-Żebbuġ goes back to 1282 were the local community was already growing and probably they could have already built a smalżl chapel. Throughout the years they built several small chapels until the 28th April 1688 Iż-Żebbug with three other church villages of Gozo became parishes by decree of Bishop David Cocco Palmieri. Fr Francis Vella was appointed the first Parish priest of Iż-Żebbuġ, a position that he held for 54 years. This historic date of the establishment of Iż-Żebbuġ parish has become an important event in the local calendar of the village. This day is remembered with special celebrations organized by the Local Council since 1999.
Agriculture was the main source of income for the family up till some years ago. Each year the main product was barley and wheat. Cotton was also another important agriculture product in Iż-Żebbuġ and loom was to be found in every house. Thin and thick blankets of wool and loom manufactured in Iż-Żebbuġ were popular and in demand. The same can be said about lace. After the decline of cotton, vines were cultivated and almost everyone uses to produce his own wine. Other popular agricultural products were melons, tomatoes, onions and potatoes. Popular and delicious is the local cheese of Gozo made out of sheep’s milk.
An old tradition in Iż-Żebbuġ is the ‘Għazziela’. It’s a piece of pastry in the form of the letter ‘M’ bearing the name of the Virgin Mary. After it’s baked, blessed and attached behind the doors to protect the residents from storms and natural disasters.
This type of marble was found in Iż-Żebbuġ in 1738 during the reign of Grand Master Despuig in a field in the limits between taċ-Ċaqra and is-Sagħtrija. .
|However, in 1980, the Parish Priest Fr Louis Vella was approached by Salvu Cefai, who owned the fields in the limits of taċ-Ċaqra was ready to donate to the parish church a huge rock of this type of marble.
Today one can admire this Marian temple decorated with so many works of art sculptured from this beautiful and fine type of marble
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Place and Name
Without any doubt, Marsalforn is one of the most popular bays of the Maltese Islands. Its also a popular fishing village. Marsalforn is situated at the foot of Iż-Żebbuġ and can be reached from Iż-Żebbuġ and also from roads leading from Rabat and Ix-Xagħra. The name is derived from one word Marsa which in Arabic means port while forn is also an Arabic word meaning the place were bread is baked. Its not probably that years ago there were bakeries in this locality, who dared to invest in a bakery in a place inhabited only by a few fishermen. The possibility is that ‘forn’ has derived from the Arabic word ‘lifurna’ meaning a type of ship and its probably the best meaning. One can conclude that Marsalforn derived its name as a sea port for ships.
Motto and Coat of Arms
As motto we find ‘Tranquillitatis Planissimus’ which means, ‘surrounded by tranquillity’. The Coat of Arms of Marsalforn consists of a blue shield which represents the port, surrounded by a golden border. On the shield there are the symbols of St Paul, the viper and the sword, accordingly to what is written in the Acts of the Apostles. According to tradition, after shipwreck in Malta, St Paul left to Rome from Marsalforn.
Marsalforn is surrounded by different plateaus such as ‘Iż-Żebbuġ' ‘id-Dabrani’ and ‘ta’ Kuljat’ and ‘il-Merżuq’ also smaller slopes such as ‘il-Qolla l-Bajda’, ‘l-Qolla s-Safra’, ‘l-Qolla l-Ħamra’ and finally ‘ix-Xagħra’. Going down to Marsalforn from “Għajn Mħelħel one finds himself in the quiet bay of ‘Tax-Xwejni’ with the salt pans found nearby which produces salt in a most natural way and a substantial amount of the product is consumed in the Maltese Islands.
One can arrive at Marsalforn by going down ‘mis-Saghtrija’ and keep going through the coastline up till ‘Xwejni’ enjoying the splendid view of the sea, salt pans, and the many fishing enthusiasts with nets and rods trying their fortune to catch a good fish. The place is still unspoiled and in summer its frequented by families for a moment of rest.
Marsalforn has been the most popular bay in Gozo for many years. From the Roman times this port served as a link between Gozo and the rest of the world. Important commodities from Sicily used to be unloaded at Marsalforn and it was from this place that passengers left for Licata to other destinations to other countries.
The most important source of economy in Marsalforn can be divided into two. In the olden times, fishing was the most important source of income for the locals but in recent years the place has turned into a tourist resort which helps not only to generate the local economy of Marsalforn but also for the island of Gozo.