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 MGARR & MOSTA

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The town's name derives from the Arabic `musta', meaning centre. Mosta lies at the heart of Malta, along the Great Fault that runs east-west across the Island. It was only a hamlet in medieval times, but began to develop at the turn of the 17th century after the Great Siege. Today it is a busy market town. At its centre is a magnificent domed church (completed in 1860), the Mosta Rotunda, said to be the third largest unsupported church dome in Europe. It was built to imitate the Pantheon in Rome, by Maltese architect George de Vasse. In World War II, the Church took a direct hit from a German bomb during mass. The bomb pierced the dome, but failed to explode. This event is now regarded as miraculous intervention. You can see a replica of the 200kg bomb in the sacristy. The building of the church was revolutionary in its day: the Mosta Rotunda was constructed over the old church which was only demolished at the last. Mosta is associated with several legends which inspired the building of small devotional chapels: the cave chapel of St Paul the Hermit in a picturesque valley; and the Chapel of Our Lady of Hope, built as thanksgiving for the safety of a local girl attacked by pirates raiding inland from Salina Bay. Within the limits of Mosta there are also prehistoric remains such as catacombs under Fort Mosta, and Bronze Age dolmens. Mosta also lies on the Victoria Lines, the British fortifications built along the Great Fault.

Mgarr is a typical rural village, and lies in one Malta's most isolated spots around five kilometres from the town of Mosta. It is surrounded by rich farmland and vineyards and most of the local population is still engaged in agriculture. Mgarr's rustic environs embrace several picturesque spots - Bingemma, Wardija, Fomm ir-Rih and Gnejna Bay. The countryside is superb for walks. Here you are likely to come across examples of Giren, circular stone huts used by farmers, natural landmarks such as the characteristic flat-topped hills, ancient rubble walls and typical Mediterranean garrigue, or scrubland. Mgarr's parish church dedicated to St Mary is a miniature copy of the Mosta Rotunda. It was built in 1912 with donations and voluntary labour from the locals. The church's elevated position offers open views of the fertile valleys and neighbouring villages. Mgarr is also home to two of Malta's oldest prehistoric sites, Ta' Hagrat and Skorba. Ta' Hagrat, still in a good state of preservation, is the earliest standing temple in Malta and dates from the same period as Ggantija on Gozo. Skorba is an important site as it provides evidence of a prehistoric village which spanned several millennia, from man's earliest times in Malta. The site is of specialist archaeological interest and is not accessible to the general public. Visits can be arranged by appointment. The village also houses a World War II air raid shelter which is of special interest.

 

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