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Zurrieq


With a population of 12,000 inhabitants, Żurrieq is one of the oldest towns in Malta. Small villages such as Hal Millieri, Bubaqra and Nigret all form part of Zurrieq.

A wide range of artifacts going back to the Bronze and Punic times, the Roman, Knights and British eras can be found in the village with houses and buildings of historical value dating to the 15th and 16th centuries. The ruins, which have characteristics that identify the various settlements of peoples that inhabited the village area, includes the Punic Tower, Xarolla Catacombs, Cart Ruts at Tal-Bakkari, Tal-Hlantun Tower, Wardija Tower and various windmills.

The windmills known as Tal-Qaret, Ta’ Marmara and tas-Salib were built in Zurrieq by Grandmasters and private families. The windmill known as tax-Xarolla, the only functioning windmill on the island to date, was built by Grandmaster Manoel de Vilhena. It still has parts of the original mechanisms and can still grain wheat.

One of these early findings in Zurrieq was discovered in 1885, in the land known as ta' Danieri limits of tal-Hlewwa. In this location Phoenician tombs were discovered containing the remains of three human skeletons and some pottery. In 1911, another tomb was found in the fields known as tal-Gharghariet limits of Nigret, whilst in the area known as tal-Bakkari, ruins of a chapel were unearthed, built on even older remains of what is thought to be a Roman temple. In August 1926, another tomb was discovered near the Xarolla Windmill, and although already opened there was still some pottery dating back to 200 A.D. Other adjacent tombs were discovered indicating that there was a burial ground of an area that was home to a large community.

In the area of Tal-Bakkari one will find the ruins of Torri tal-Bakkari, which was constructed out of the same type and size of stone as those found in the nearby chapel's ruins. Two other towers are known as tat-Torrijiet and tal-Gawhar are situated in the areas known as ta' Wilga and tal-Hlantun respectively. All the three towers used long before the Roman time are of a perfect round shape and made from large stones. Inside, one can observe features such as altar shapes, holes to contain liquid like those used for sacrifice of blood and other holes which could be used to tie up animals near the same altar.

The Żurrieq Parish Church is one of the oldest churches found in the Maltese Islands. The parish church dedicated to Saint Catherine has a collection of Mattia Preti’s paintings including include the Martyrdom of Saint Stephen, Martyrdom of Saint Andrew, Martyrdom of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Eternal Father, The Visitation of the Virgin to Saint Elizabeth, Saint Roque, Blaise, Dominic and Nicholas of Tolentino as well as the painting of Our Lady of Graces. The titular village feast of St. Catherine is celebrated on the first Sunday of September whilst the secondary feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is celebrated on the third Sunday of July with the traditional band march being held on Saturday afternoon.

Zurrieq also boasts of many chapels such as the Chapel of Immaculate Conception in the area of Nigret, the chapel of Saint James situated in the centre of the village, the Chapel of Saint Bartholomew replacing another chapel dedicated to the same saint, the Chapel of Saint Luke the Evangelist, the Chapel of Saint Andrew, the Chapel of Saint Agatha, the chapel dedicated to Our Lady at Bubaqra, the Chapel of Saint Leo the Pope, the Chapel dedicated to Saint John the Evangelist and the Chapel of the Annunciation, with the latter two being located in the area known as Ħal Millieri.

Żurrieq is also well known for the beach in Wied iż-Żurrieq and the Blue Grotto that can be found near Wied Babu. The Blue Grotto, a popular destination for tourists, can be accessed by guided tours on a traditional maltese fishing boat. The number of sea caverns is located right across the small, uninhabited islet of Filfla.

 

Bubaqra is a small, rural area in Zurrieq, in the south-east of Malta. It is situated between the zones of Nigret and Hal-Far. At the centre of this zone is a small church dedicated to our Holy Mary, and a few metres away there is also the cemetery of Zurrieq with a chapel dedicated to St. Leon.

The name of this area originated from Bubakra from the Maltese work bakkar, meaning to wake up early. With the surrounding area consisting of mainly fields and rural areas, the people of this area used to get up early to start working their fields. However, a lot of Maltese mock the name of this area since in Maltese the name means owner of the cow. 

A popular tower called the Bubaqra Tower is situated on the outskirts of this zone. This tower was built in the 16th century by the Knights of St. John. The way this tower is constructed shows that it was meant to be a countryside residence however it is said that for some time it served as an observation point to spot an enemy approach by sea.

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