Places of Interest

​Bali Guarena Palace
De Piro Palace
 
Bali Guarena Palace
This palace is situated by the roadside which leads to the neolithic temples of Hagar Qim and Mnajdra, a little further up the hillside away from a small chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Graces. This majestic building is still isolated and from its grounds, one can still enjoy a fantastic view of the village of Qrendi. This palace stimulates the interest of those who happen to pass close by. It is built in a style which was quite different from other palaces built in its era; quite simple without any external decorations. This style thus reflects a lot on who built it and the purpose for which it was built.
 
Guarena Palace was built between 1735-1740 and the internal rooms are arranged to give it a form of a residential home. As already stated, the external features are simple, giving it the form of a small fortress. The windows on the ground floor are quite high and a high turret on the roof used to serve as a watchtower for the guards. Clearly, this palace was built in a way to facilitate its defence against corsairs, which were quite common in those days.
 
The first reference which one encounters about this palace can be found in the records of the Order of the Knights of St. John. Here one can notice that in the second half of the 18th Century, Fra Pier Francesco Guarena di Rovero bought a piece of land in the vicinity of Qrendi in an area which was known as Contrada Delle Grazie. He then built a palace surrounded by a large garden filled with citrus trees and other trees. According to tradition, Guarena was a person who enjoyed quiet and peaceful surroundings and so this palace was quite fit for his tastes, where one can imagine that he spent most of the rest of his life enjoying the marvellous views surrounding the area.
 
Fra Pier Francesco Guarena was born on the 4th October, 1679 in Asti, Italy and he was ordained as a Knight of the Order of St. John in 1688 during the reign of Grandmaster Gregorio Caraffa. Many stories are told about this generous knight and he is mentioned as one of those who contributed to the Silver Gate which stands at the doorway of the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament in St. John's Co-Cathedral at Valletta.
 
During World War Two, this palace and its extensive gardens were used as barracks for various British military forces and towards the end of this period it housed an infantry battalion of the locally enlisted King’s Own Malta Regiment.
 
Guttenebrg Palace
Guttenberg Palace is situated in Our Lady of Mercy Square, on the left-side on entering the square. This area used to form part of a mediaeval hamlet, Hal-Lew which was later on incorporated with other similar hamlets to form Qrendi. This palace is similar to the Octagonal Tower, which is also referred to as the Ellul Preziosi Tower, in the sense that one can defend himself without danger of being hit. The whole palace is surrounded by windows looking downwards so that one could defend against corsairs which were quite common during the years that this palace was erected. This palace, which is nowadays used as a private residence, was built by the Bailiff Johann Wolfgang von Guttenberg who served as a Knight of the Order of St John from 1669 till his demise in 1733. He spent his life serving on the Order's galleys and he used this palace as his residence when he would be in Malta between one voyage and another. Guttenberg was very generous and he presented various donations and gifts to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mercy, which at the time was renowned through the whole island as a centre for prayer and devotion. Amongst these, one can find a painting of the Crucifixion and another of St Mary Magdalene. Bishop Molina recorded that Guttenberg donated paintings of the Crucifixion and the Assumption which was commissioned in 1690 from Giuseppe d'Andrea Romano. Nowadays, this painting is situated in the Sacristy of this Sanctuary. We also find a good number of ex-voto paintings which are also attributed as donations by Guttenberg.
 
Octagonal Tower
The Octagonal Tower is one of the most interesting buildings which belongs to the period of the Knights. This tower was probably built by a private family, in order to have adequate protection in case of a piratical landing.
 
De Redin Tower
On the coast, very near the archeological remains of Hagar Qim and Mnajdra, we find two interesting monuments. One is a tower built in the middle of the 17th century during the rule of Grand Master De Redin. This was part of an overall system which was planned to give advance warning of any enemy sightings in the area. Nearby there is also a very plain monument with a name inscribed on it. This is known as the Congreve Monument, placed there to commemorate this British governor who had left instructions that he be buried at sea, between the main island of Malta and the small islet of Filfla.
 
Ta' Sciutu Tower
Another tower found in the area, is that which is today used as a Police Station for the Wied iz-Zurrieq area. This tower which was built by Grand Master Lascaris is known as Ta’ Sciutu. Entering this tower one realizes that it was never meant to offer any real defense to the area. In fact there would only have been four people assigned to do guard duty at the tower, and their main occupation was to convey any suspect shipping in the area. One person would be equipped with a horse, in order to travel quickly and relay the details to the authorities.

Ħaġar Qim & Mnajdra
Within the confines of the locality of Qrendi we find Malta’s most important archaeological remains which are amongst the most important prehistoric remains that are to be found within the Mediterranean basin. These are the Hagar Qim and Mnajdra prehistoric temples. Parts of these temples are also considered as amongst the oldest free-standing buildings in the world. It is no wonder these have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Both complexes belong to the prehistoric period referred to as the “Temple Period”. They therefore date to about 3500 to 2200BC. It is thought that the people who built these structures, though illiterate, were quite ingenious in that they managed to set up a well organized society that could actually build such massive structures. When considering that blocks of stone weighing as much as 20 tons each were moved by a group of people who did not know the concept of the wheel, it is no doubt something of an achievement.
 
All the temples were at one time roofed over, although not all of the areas had the same type of roofing. Some of the stones were also decorated by sculptured designs. A number of important statues of varying sizes were also discovered. While some of them represent fat humans, there are others which definitely represent females, evidence of a fertility cult among these people. In close by area, namely Maghlaq is also very important for the discoveries of large quantities of animal remains, namely hippopotami and a smaller version of elephants. These elephant remains actually belonged to a definite species than the ones that were known at that time. Due to the fact that they were discovered in the area of Mnajdra, this particular species has been given the scientific name of elephas mnaidrensis.
 
Maqluba
Right beyond the smaller chapel dedicated to St. Matthew, one can view a large round and deep cavity. This cavity is referred to as Il-Maqluba.
 
Traditionally, it is recounted that in ancient times, a small hamlet occupied this site. The people living within conducted an unruly lifestyle until one day, an earthquake shook the place and destroyed their land which subsided into this cavity. Only one pious woman survived this disaster since at the time, she was praying in the small chapel. In fact, the smaller chapel still stands to this day on the very edge of the cavity.
 
This cavity is about 40 metres deep and many trees and vegetation grow in its bottom. Amongst these, one can also find the Maltese national tree, the Għargħar, which is quite rare. This depression is about 100 metres long and 60 metres wide.
 
A staircase leads down to a belvedere, where one can look out over the depression. Here one can also find the remains of a well cut in the rock in the form of a bell. The well is sliced from the part where the land subsided. On the side of this well, a small narrow staircase dug out into the rock leads down to the very bottom of Il-Maqluba. The geological structure of the rock formation indicates quite clearly that this site once suffered extensive tremors and shock waves.
 
Geographically, the countryside all around this depression starts to get lower and lower from as far off as 3-5 kilometre until it finally drops in this cavity.
 
There are many different opinions on how this depression was formed but the most feasible theory is that underground caves subsided under the pressure of water above or else by means of an earthquake. Ciantar recounts that in the remains of the well mentioned above, some tar was also discovered which has since long disappeared.
 
During winter, rain water collects in this cavity and at times it also covers the large trees growing in the bottom. However, this water quickly finds its way out through the crevices in the rock. The geological formation of the rocks on the coast close to Il-Maqluba confirm the theory that this depression was formed by means of an earthquake together with a thunderstorm which had hit the islands in such a force as never before. Some persons recount that during winter, rain water can be heard pouring into the sea somewhere in the vicinity of the Blue Grotto and it may be that this rain water is that which quickly escapes through the crevices of Il-Maqluba. In fact, the geological structure of the rocks in the area of the Blue Grotto is quite similar to that of Il-Maqluba, with large cliffs opening out to the sea and then closing in once again on the sea bed. Ancient writers state that the thunderstorm which caused this havoc occurred on the 24th November, 1343, the eve of the feast of St. Catherine at Zejtun.

Wied iż-Żurrieq
The coast of this area is well known for its interesting caves. The famous Blue Grotto and the surrounding coastline is one of the most scenic and spectacular in the Maltese Islands. Boat-trips can be taken from the picturesque Wied iz-Zurrieq. The trip can vary according to the sea level, because when it is calm one can also be taken to visit a number of other smaller caves. There is one in particular where the boat enters through one side and exits from another. It is also interesting to notice the deep blue of the sea, and the colorful spectacle that coral and other marine life give to the area.
 
On the horizon, but not so far away there is the small islet of Filfla. It is thought that there used to be a small chapel there. But complaints about the difficulty for the priest to cross over led to permission being granted to close the chapel. Since then the same building fell in ruins and nowadays nothing remains of it. After World War Two, British and NATO Forces made use of this islet for shooting and aerial bombing practicings. The islet of Filfla and the surrounding sea and coastline nowadays form part of a natural reserve, and one cannot go there without permission from the respective authorities.
 
The War Memorial
This monument, which was a project of the Qrendi Local Council, is situated at the center of the village core and lies between Triq Ġuże’ Cassar and Triq Ġużeppi D’Arena. People walking or driving towards the Parish Church from the Qrendi bye-pass cannot miss this monument. This war memorial was unveiled on the 19th February 1995 by the President of Malta, Dr. Ugo Mifsud Bonnici. It was designed by Angelo Agius and built by Agius Marble Works.
 
The shape of the monument resembles that of a pyramid. On its façade, the Qrendi Local Council’s coat of arms is prominently visible together with a soldier’s helmet and bayonet, barbed wire and a laurel wreath. The names of the residents of Qrendi who lost their lives during the Axis bombings at the Second World War are engraved on the sides of the monument.
 
The victim’s names are as follows:
Name
Age
Death Date
Aquilina Joseph
38
31.1.42
Aquilina Mary Rose
24
30.1.42
Attard John
17
19.12.42
Dalli Grezzju
52
12.9.42
Ellul Rose
65
9.4.42
Magro Catherine
54
19.12.42
Magro Francis
60
19.12.42
Mallia Francis
66
19.12.42
Mifsud Jane 
60
9.4.42
Psaila Josephine
70
9.4.42
Sciberras Catherine
86
9.4.42
Sciberras Vincent
78
19.12.42
Spiteri Carmela
70
1.7.42

Rest in Peace