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Birżebbuġa (City Guide)

Online since: 09. April 2013

Pretty Bay in Birzebuggia on Malta

Even though most of Birżebbuġa’s historical attractions have either collapsed, or are too old to visit, there are still a few that are worth seeing, such as the three batteries, the church, and Pretty Bay (Ramla ta`Birżebbuġa). Outside the village, you’ll find the temple of Borg in-Nadur, a rather small temple with a dirt road leading up to it. A bit further north of Birżebbuġa is the 144 metre-deep cave of Ghar Dalam and the museum it contains. In this cave, a large number of very old fossils were found and you can clearly see the different rock strata that were formed over millions of years. About 2-3 km south of Birżebbuġa is another cave, set into a steep rock face, that is about 130 metres above sea level and offers an amazing view.

The three batteries

There are three batteries in Birżebbuġa, called Ferretti Battery (1), Battery (2) and Pinto Battery (3). The Pinto Battery was built in 1752 and for a long time it was used as a tank. As the batteries are very old and in an ailing condition, they are not open to the public. The Ferretti Battery is overgrown with plants and is slowly crumbling; the other two are still in one piece, but it is too dangerous to go inside them.

Church, city centre and historical section

As with many localities in Malta, the village of Birżebbuġa has a pretty church in the centre that stands in front of a plaza with many plants. Even though the old houses in Birżebbuġa might not be exceptionally unique, they are still worth a visit.

Pretty Bay (Ramla ta Birżebbuġa)

The main attraction of Birżebbuġa is its small bay, with a beautiful, sandy beach called Pretty Bay, or Ramla ta Birżebbuġa in Maltese. The beach is clean and fine, and the water is crystal clear. Behind the beach are two small soccer fields and some comfy seating areas with a well-tended park. The bay is surrounded by a modern promenade and lovely old houses. Directly next to the bay are many cafés, as well as some hotels and restaurants. This idyllic scene would be perfect if it weren’t for some rather annoying factors: Malta’s new free port is located directly opposite the promenade, so the supply line of EneMalta protrudes several hundred metres into the sea, and EneMalta’s huge oil tanks, which stand in the village, block the view. As if that weren’t enough, the airplanes that descend into Malta International Airport make a deafeningly thunderous sound over the bay! If it werent for all that, Birżebbuġa would be one of the most beautiful places in Malta.

Ghar Dalam

Museum and cave

In the valley of Dalam, just outside Birżebbuġa, is the cave of Ghar Dalam, which also contains a museum. It is a 144 metre-long, natural karst cave, formed by water. This cave is one of the most important paleontological sites in Malta. The many different strata of rock, which stratified over millions of years, are very interesting and distinct. In the “Cave of Darkness”, bones of animals such as pygmy elephants, bears and hippos were found. One theory to explain the presence of so many bones is that the cave’s ceiling once collapsed from erosion, causing the animals’ remains to be washed in by the rains. The cave was explored back in 1865, but was not opened to the public until 1930. During World War II, the cave served as an air raid shelter. The small museum has information about the cave and displays copies of past artefacts. Many of the original discoveries were stolen in 1980 and still haven’t been found. Outside, there is a small garden with benches. You can only enter the front section of the cave, as the back section is threatening to collapse.

Location and directions: The cave is located outside Birżebbuġa, on the right side, coming from Zejtun. Visitors are likely to miss the right stop, as there are no signs pointing out the cave. It’s best to let the bus driver know in advance, where you would like to get out.

Ghar Hasan

Cave 70 metres above sea level

Note: A reader informed us that the area was fenced off after a rock collapse. Entering the area is prohibited and thus it looks rather neglected now. (Thank you to Peter H.)

Ghar Hasan is a natural cave that was formed by the sea 70 metres above sea level. From the cave, you can enjoy a stunning view though the naturally formed window. The name “Cave of the Hassans” is derived from the legend of a Saracen who is said to have lived there with a Maltese woman in the 11th century, after Malta had been conquered by the Christians. When the Christian soldiers were on their way to find them, he and his lover apparently threw themselves from the cliffs into the sea.

Location and directions: The cave is located about 2 - 3 km south of Birżebbuġa. Its best to drive there yourself, as the bus will only take you to Hal-Far or Kalafrana. In both cases, you will still need to walk for quite some time to reach the cave.

Monument in Honour of Bush and Gorbachev

Opposite the Pinto Battery stands a monument dedicated to the former American president George Bush, Senior and the former Russian president Mikael Gorbachev. It was erected in 1989, and has become rather rusty.

S. Wagner

Further reading on this subject (from our online bookshop):
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Short info:

Region: Birzebbuga
Category: Town

Location on the map in Malta

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