Xemxija Heritage Trail



Xemxija Heritage Trail

This former Roman road leads to Bajda ridge, passing ancient cave dwellings, Punic-Roman-era apiaries, and pilgrims’ graffiti on what was a former pilgrimage trail.

Xemxija Heritage Trail

Being part of Maltese heritage, the Punic Roman road is still preserved for a considerable length and is unique in Malta. The stones holding up the road surface are in good condition despite their age – over 2000 years old. Channels were cut along the road at the most opportune points where water would naturally collect.

This road is one of the network which connected the settlements and served to transport farm produce as well as salt. Besides, this road is also known as the Pilgrims Way, an old road taken by pilgrims on their way to our lady’s sanctuary in Mellieħa.

Rubble Walls

A long stretch of the rubble walls has been repaired and rebuilt in places. These walls are an integral part of our heritage and are a characteristic of the Maltese countryside. The functional purpose of these walls is threefold.

That of retaining the soil in place especially in sloping areas and terraced fields

That of acting as a limit and extent of a property or demarcation lines, dividing properties

To serve as a windbreak for the protection of trees and plants.

An interesting feature of these walls is the lack of a bonding agent. Rubble walls house a variety of flora and fauna, such as snails, geckos, lizards, snakes, and other creatures, as well as plants and flowers.

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About the Locality

From ancient times, San Pawl il-Bahar has always played a very important part in the history of Malta. Going back 6000 years there exist in this locality various sites of archaeological and historical importance, the oldest of which are 7 prehistoric tombs. Two Neolithic temples, ancient cart-ruts Punic tombs and other Bronze Age remains demonstrate that this area was a hive of activity in ancient times. With the arrival of the Romans in 218 BC, it increased in importance since San Pawl il-Bahar was the nearest safe harbour for the Roman fleet. A number of roman anchors were discovered on the sea-bed. In Xemxija, a Roman road leading to a Roman Apiary and Roman Baths are in a good state of preservation.

But the event that changed Malta’s history is the Shipwreck of St. Paul which occurred here in San Pawl il-Bahar in the year 60A.D., as a result of which Maltese became Christians

For several years San Pawl il-Bahar was practically deserted owing to its vulnerability to piratical attacks. However it provided a living to those farmers and fishermen that settled here. With the arrival of the Knights it was felt that the bay needed protection and so they strengthened it by means of forts, trenches, batteries, redoubts and towers.

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