Places of Interest

The actual area where the village of Naxxar is built offers a natural shelter to its inhabitants. In fact, in early times the village was used to reconnoitre the movements of the enemy. Because of the fact that this height has a plain which goes right down to the sea, we find that three forms of defence were built through the ages – those along the sea such as towers, trenches, batteries, redoubts and beach posts - as a physical resistance to those attempting to land from the sea; inland defences like pillboxes – to hinder the advance of the enemy if they were successful in landing; and the fortifications on high ground.
 Ghallis Tower
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We find that this village is mentioned in the Militia list dated 1419-1420 which shows the names of 92 men from Naxxar. According to information we have, only five more localities – Birgu (Vittoriosa), Rabat, Mdina, Żebbuġ and Qormi – had more men mentioned.
 
 
In 1530 when the Knights arrived in Malta, a number of towers were built. Included among these towers were two in San Pawl tat-Tarġa – it-Torri tal Kaptan and Torri Gauci. It-Torri tal-Kaptan, which is situated close to the chapel, was built during the reign of Grandmaster La Vallette and was the first form of inland fortification which was not built close to the port and the neighbouring area.
 
 In this tower lived the Captain of the Militia – hence its name. It is interesting to note that this tower has a number of drop-boxes, sort of small balconies without a floor from which boiling oil or stones could be dropped on to the enemy below, and also various openings from which the soldiers could shoot.
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Torri Gauci, built in a square shape by Francesco Gauci, could have been built before the arrival of the Knights in Malta. This tower is also provided with three drop-boxes at roof level. These two towers played an important role during the Great Siege of 1565.
 
In the 17th Century the Knights started building towers in strategic places to strengthen the Island's defences. In fact, during the reign of Grandmaster De Redin (1657-1660) thirteen towers were built, two of which are in the Naxxar locality. Għallis Tower was the second of the thirteen built. The tower was built in 1658 at a cost of 426 scudi and it guarded the entrance to Salina. Recently this tower was restored to its original beauty by the "Din l-Art Ħelwa" Foundation. The Qalet Marku Tower was also built in 1658 at a cost of 408 scudi. To enter the first floor of this tower, one had to use a ladder, whilst to go up to the roof, there was a spiral staircase. In 1792 two cannons were installed in each tower.
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At the beginning of the 18th Century it was decided to start building a new type of defence - trenches and batteries. Between 1714 and 1715 ten batteries were built, one of which was at Qalet Marku. The batteries consisted of a platform for a cannon surrounded by a parapet with an opening from which they could shoot. Unfortunately today, the only parts remaining at Qalet Marku battery are part of the ditch and part of the wall. In Salina Bay and Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq, we also find two redoubts, pentagonal buildings surrounded by a low parapet and a low ditch as well as a wall which in time also served as a trench.
 
The final form of defence along the coastline was the fougasse, situated in Salina. The fougasse was a large hole in the rock which used to be filled with pieces of stone and fired at any galley which tried to enter the bay.
 
Tal-Qadi Temples
Of the two original fougasses there, unfortunately only one is still existent and it is very close to the redoubt built in Grandmaster Ximenes' reign.
 
In 1722, in Naxxar, a new line of defence for the Infantry was built by the Knights. Along this line four triangular points are found. The walls joining these points were divided by a door in the middle from which the soldiers could go out in the case of a counter attack. Exactly underneath the trench, a ditch cut in the rock is found all along the line. Because of infrastructural works done in the area, only three of the points are still existent.
 
Unfortunately the fortifications built by the Knights had a tragic end because when Napoleon Bonaparte came to Malta with his army on the 12th June 1798, he had no trouble at all to land and take over the Island in a very short time.
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Salina Catacombs

In the 19th Century, under the English rule, three large forts were built - Binġemma, Madliena and Mosta. This was the beginning of the defence system known as the Victoria Lines. These forts were joined by a continuous line of Infantry - a simple parapet and passage for the soldiers. The work on the Victoria Lines and other additions were completed in 1900. In 1907, however the British returned to the defence of the coast and for this reason the Victoria Lines front was abandoned.

In the thirties it was decided to build a number of pill-boxes along the coast and inland. One of these pill-boxes, which incidentally was restored recently by the Naxxar Local Council with the help of Din l-Art Ħelwa Foundation is at the very top of the T'Alla u Ommu Hill and is known as Defence Post R15. It is not known exactly when this pill-box was built, but one can risk guessing that it was completed by the end of 1939, because it is mentioned in the Official List dated January 1940. The pill-box is square and is built on two levels - the top part being used by the soldiers to shoot at the enemy, whilst the lower level was used as accommodation.
In Salina and Birguma, one can also find two anti-aircraft batteries. The Birguma one especially played a big part during the Second World War, since it was in the direct line of the enemy approach from Sicily.
 
Something unique found in Malta is Il-Widna - a primitive form of radar with perfect acoustics which used to pick up the sound of enemy aircraft, thus giving an early warning to the anti-aircraft batteries that enemy aircraft was approaching. This was built at the time of the Abyssinian crisis in 1935
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Palazzo Parisio
Palazzo Parisio was built by Marquis Giuseppe Scicluna. Before, this site was occupied as a summer residence by the Jesuit Community. After buying the property in 1898, Marquis Scicluna altered it into its present state, purchased more land at the back and converted it into a big garden. All this was done between 1898 and 1906.

All the artistic designs were done by Italian artists who were brought to Malta on purpose. The paintings on the ceiling are the works of the Italian artist Filippo Venuti.
 
Marquis Scicluna used this palazzo as his private residence for only a short period, till 1907. After the death of the Marquis, the Palazzo stopped being used as a private residence and was changed into a tourist attraction and as a wedding hall.
 
In 1962, Marquis John Scicluna let a significant part of the gardens of the Palazzo to the International Trade Fair Corporation.
 
     Website : www.palazzoparisio.com
      E-mail address : info@palazzoparisio.com