Today Wirt iż-Żejtun held another cultural walk around one of the oldest areas of our town. This time it was the turn for ir-Raħal ta’ Fuq, or what used to be the two hamlets of Ħal-Ġwann and Ħal-Biżbud.
The walk started from Misraħ Carlo Diacono and after a brief account on the historical development of this part of the town, the walk proceeded towards Triq San Pawl and Triq Vendome.
The first of two chapels visited during the tour was that known as Tas-Sinjura, the name having a double meaning since the dedication of this chapel is to the Sacred Heart of Mary and at the same time the referring to the person who built the chapel, who was the noble Sinjorina Margertia de Conti Manduca.
The area of Ħal-Ġwann or ta’ Tablin as commonly know by locals instigated most interest due to the number of architectural and historic features which were noted, including amongst other things an old street lamp bracket still fixed at the corner of one of the alleys. The participants also saw the current state of a country house and its garden built by the Testaferrata Bonici family within this area.
The tour than proceeded towards Triq San Ġwann with a stop in front of id-Dar tal-Falkunier (the Falconer’s House) and then entering into one of the alleys to visit il-loġġja (covered alley). The nest stop was in front of the bronze bust of il-Bies, one of the the local għanejja (folk singer), who lived in the area.
Walking along Triq il-Madonna tal-Ħniena we saw a number of street shrines. We walked towards Triq Santa Marija through Triq San Alfonsu and then to Triq San Duminku. There our attention focused on a very old muxrabija (peeping window), which has strong Islamic influence.
In Triq Marsaxlokk the participants were given information on the large house with garden which was owned by one of the French rebellious knights of the Order of St John, De Fremaux, who was one of the ġakobini favouring Napoleon’s entry in Malta. Besides other architectural features along this streetscape, information was shared about candle manufacturing and pottery manufacturing within two specific buildings along this road, which up to hundred years ago used to be inhabited by a number of fishermen who worked at Marsaxlokk.
Back to Triq Santa Marija, this time through Triq San Pietru, an interesting account was given about a dispute between two neighbours about the party wall of their property ending up with a wide gap on the facade between the same properties, known by the residents of the area as ix-Xaqq ta’ Tilla.
We then walked through Triq San Mikiel towards the main square of Ir-Raħal ta-Fuq – Misraħ Santa Marija, stopping in front of the corner house within the square.
The second chapel, that of Santa Marija tal-Ħlas, was then visited and historical information about the chapel preceding the existing one was given to the listeners. The building of the existing church coincided with the laying of the first stone of the new parish church of Zejtun, laid on the 25th November 1692. On the side facade the participants of the tour saw a sun dial and on the building opposite this side facade there were two other muxrabiji.
Our next stop was in front of Guze’ Abela‘s house, one of the leaders of the revolt against the French troops.
Just before starting our way through Triq Xejba we stopped in front of another property with a beautifully stone carved gate, also built and previously owned by the Testaferrata Bonici Family.
Our tour ended in Triq il-Madonna tal-Bon Kunsill with a brief description about the police station, which is the only one in Malta specifically designed and built as police station, since all the other police stations are housed in either rented property or public buildings which were not designed as police stations.
This tour was very well attended and participants were continuously eager to listen. There was a good cross section of age groups and also a balanced mix between Zejtun residents and non-residents.
The whole tour will be featured on Favourite Channel on Thursday evening.