Place Names and Origin
“Wied il-Għajn”, or “Marsaskala” as it is often called, is a maritime village in the south of Malta, not far from Zabbar and Zejtun. Until the Second World War (1940 – 1945) it was still a small village consisting mostly of summer residences, but today it has grown to such an extent that it is considered as one of the most beautiful places in Malta and as the centre with the fastest rate of population growth in the Maltese Islands.Marsaskala Coat of Arms

Built on Two Valleys
It has been called “Wied il-Għajn” because of the two valleys on which it is built. “Wied” is the Maltese word for valley. The first valley, along which is found the Zabbar Road, lies between the Saint Leonard Hill and the Bidni Hill, and the second one between the latter and the Saint Anthony Hill. From here a road leads to Zejtun. The village’s name refers also to a spring of fresh water (Maltese “għajn”), which in past times served as a washing place and still flows beneath Marina Street into the sea. Old documents mention the fish pond (stagnone d’acqua) and a tower built by Mattiolo d’Elia.

Parochial Limits
On its eastern side, Marsaskala, together with St. Thomas Bay, which forms part of the village, is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, while on the landward side it is hemmed in by the villages of Zabbar, Zejtun and Marsaxlokk.

On the north its parochial limits start from the De Redin Tower built on the coast, and continue southwards along the old countryside road to the Zabbar Road, then onto Bidni Hill, where the chapel of Our Lady of Tad-Dawl is found and then down to the new by-pass, Żiju Valley with the road close to the quarry, to the road leading to Saint Mary Chapel at Hal Tmin; from here to Strejnu Square, onto the lane leading to Lambordi, and from here to the white cliffs between Munxar and Saint Paul Chapel.

Limits of Maraskala
Let’s have a look now at the names of certain zones in Marsaskala:-

Żonqor, Il-Bidni, Latmija, Wied iż-Żiju, Ħal Tmin, Misrah Strejnu, Lambordi, Il-Munxar, Id-Daħla ta’ San Tumas, Tar-Rumi, Bella Vista, Fawwara, Kappara, Siberja, Il-Ħamrija and Il-Gżira Nadur.

Prehistoric Marsaskala
In various parts of Marsaskala we find several archeological remains as early as pre-history times. Cart ruts were discovered at Bidni Hill, Strejnu Square and at Tar-Rumi. Dating back from the Neolithic Period, Megaliths and Dolmen were discovered at Bidni. In Nadur, not far from St. Thomas Tower, the Menhir was discovered.

The Phoenician and Roman Periods
From the Bronze Period small rock cut cisterns were discovered. Historians are of the opinion that they were used to store oil. These cisterns were discovered at Strejnu Square and on the Bidni Hill.

Punic Tombs, Roman Remains and Christian Catacombs were also discovered at Marasakala

The Knights of St. John

The Knights of St. John arrived in Malta in the year 1530 and it was not till after the Great Siege of 1565 that the Knights finally decided to stay in Malta for good and started thinking seriously about Malta’s defence.

Mamo TowerOn the 6th of July 1614, a fleet of 60 Turkish vessels entered the bays of MarsButtar Toweraskala and St. Thomas. From here they marched to the nearby villges. After this attack, Grand Master Alof De Wignacourt built St. Thomas tower paying the expenses himself. A few years later, Mamo Tower was built. During to the same period the towers of Gardiel, Buttar, Mozz and De Redin were also built. Redoubts were also built in Marsaskala and St. Thomas Bay. Their purpose was to slow down an enemy’s movements once he had landed.

Extracts taken from the book ‘Marsaskala – Wied il-Ghajn’ by Canon Joe Abela

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