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Ħal Għargħur is one of the smallest and oldest towns of Malta. With a population of 2,389 it is situated on a hilltop between two valleys in the North-East of Malta. Its motto 'Excelsior', which means 'The Highest', indicates the fact that this town is geographically the highest town of Malta, but it's not the highest point on the island.
There are documented references to Ħal Għargħur as far back as 1419 in the lists of the Dejma, which was a Militia that guarded the locals from pirate attacks. This settlement suffered from severe de-population during the High Middle Ages and some years later due to continuous pirate attacks. Exiles from the central Italian city of Celano in the year 1223 by Emperor Frederick II settled in Ħal Għargħur and built the town's oldest church, that of St. John, which today can be found near the town’s cemetery. Amongst other discoveries, a home with Arab-style decorations on the façade and a Muslim-style oven can still be seen in a house in Sqaq Warda.
Ħal Għargħur was a rural community located in an area particularly lacking fertile soil and fresh water. Nevertheless, the inhabitants of this area were able to finance the building of a parish church and several other chapels which host Baroque fine arts. The main attraction of the village, besides the surrounding countryside and views, is the parish church dedicated to Saint Bartholomew the Apostle. Its interior is of the Doric order but it has a fine Baroque façade. The original façade was demolished and the one seen today was built in 1743. The church was originally built between 1610 and 1638 and designed by Maltese architect Tumas Dingli.
The main event of the year is the village feast, which is celebrated on the last Sunday of August. During the celebrations, the statue of Saint Bartholomew which is the second heaviest in the Maltese Islands is carried shoulder high along the illuminated streets of the village accompanied by musical bands. Many visitors tend to take part in the celebration of the saint's day, by visiting the church and the well-known colourful fireworks display.
The Victoria Lines, named after Queen Victoria, divide the island of Malta from east to west and pass through this locality. Ħal Għargħur hosts much of Malta's telecommunication infrastructure. Before World War II and prior to the installation of radar, a concave wall was constructed in Ħal Għargħur aimed at detecting incoming Italian aircraft. This acoustic mirror is referred to as "il-Widna" (The Ear) by locals. Ħal Għargħur hosted a number a refugees from the harbour area during the war, who were seeking shelter from the continuous air raids in the public school, which at that time was used as a dormitory.
The hamlets of Madliena, Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq and part of Magħtab form part of Ħal Għargħur. The zones of St. Andrew's and High Ridge also formed part of Ħal Għargħur before being integrated within the locality of Swieqi. The modern town of Pembroke also used to form part of Ħal Għargħur, although access to this zone was restricted as this area was reserved for military purposes.
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