Marsaxlokk: A Beautiful Fishing Village in Malta
Marsaxlokk pronounced ‘mar-sha-shlock’
Marsaxlokk lies in the Southeastern part of Malta. This is a beautiful fishing village and one of the oldest ports in Malta, with the population of 3,277 people. The name Marsaxlokk is derived from Mersa, an Arabic word meaning harbor and Xlokk meaning south eastern wind of the Mediterranean. Thus, Marsaxlokk implies “the harbor on the South-East”. Marsaxlokk stands as the second largest natural harbor of Malta.
Fishing is the primary occupation of the Marsaxlokk people. This calm and serene village proudly exhibits its deep rooted traditions. People live here mostly in well formed strong communities. With recent occupation of nearby localities to the village the fishing scenario is seeing a considerable decrease. Still, Malta’s major fish supplies are sufficed by the fish caught in this picturesque fishing harbor. Lampuki, tuna and swordfish are caught in bulk quantities during spring season. A fish market is held on Sundays on the open quay selling the fresh catch. This Sunday market can be seen selling other fresh local produce, clothes, footwear and tourist souvenirs. Exploring this Sunday market gives a reflection of the true tradition and lifestyle of the people of Marsaxlokk. The fish is transported to Valletta on weekdays.
With the increased tourism influence to this picturesque village, there are large numbers of seafood restaurants opening to meet the ever increasing demand of seafood. Selling tourism souvenirs and other similar goods is another major employment activity of this place.
Malta, being blessed with many natural harbors, it has been inhabited by various people time and again. Owing to this fact, the village holds immense historic and archeological importance. Ghar Dalam Cave lies in the close proximity of the village at Tas Silg. This site is the most prominent and showcases initial evidence of the Neolithic settlements on the Maltese Island. There has also been found the remains of megalithic Tarxien temples. The temple was predominantly used for worship from as far back as the 6th century B.C. The ruins exhibit four different historical periods.
A perfect example of the unaltered Marsaxlokk tradition is the luzzu boats. These are the famous fishing boats of this place. They are painted in bright colors of red, yellow, blue and green. The colors of the boats remain unchanged for generations owing to the superstitious beliefs of Marsaxlokk people. Moreover, each of the boat bears a pair of eyes called the “Eyes of Osiris”. This symbol is believed to protect the boats from any ill-fate. These bright boats sailing near the harbor area looks striking and accounts to the increased tourism activity here.
There are many places of tourist interest scattered in and around the town. At the town square stands the statue of St Andrews, the patron saint of fishermen of Marsaxlokk. The statue seems proudly overlooking the town up till the sea. Another beautiful statue is of Our Lady in a luzzu. The statue is located above the Marsaxlokk church overlooking the sea. Marsaxlokk Parish Church is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary, the Madonna of Pompeii. The church exhibits statue of Madonna and child imported from Lecce in Italy during 1900.
Fort St Lucian is another point of tourist attraction showcasing the history of Marsaxlokk. The fort was constructed in 1610 to guard the bay. It has a perfectly planned architecture for defense. The Kbira point at an elevated level and there are deep trenches encircling the fort. The fort has been strengthened especially towards the seaside battery in 1795. During the Second World War the tower was occupied to store anti aircraft guns and was used to depot ammunitions for British military. The fort now houses a fish farm ‘The National Aquaculture Research Centre’ and is regulated by the government. Tours to this research center can be arranged on request.
The harbor has shown its importance for many political activities. The one which is of great importance is the 1989 Bush-Gorbachev Summit which was held here. In the sports field, Marsaxlokk has its own football team founded in 1949 and plays for the Maltese Premier League. On the left side of the bay lies the Delimara point, there are two water inlets with rocky cliffs, St. Peter’s pool and Kalanka Bay here. These act as shallow sandy beaches of the place giving a very good point for swimming, diving and snorkeling. On the western side of the peninsula is built Fort Delimera. This fort was constructed in 1881 by the British to defend the Marsaxlokk bay.
Tourists can find all sorts of accommodation in Marsaxlokk like hotels, holiday apartments, lodges and guesthouses at a very competitive rate.
This exotic natural harbor can be reached from Valletta by bus route 27. Route No. 427 and 627 can be acquired to reach Marsaxlokk from Sliema and Bugibba respectively. The road to Marsaxlokk from Valletta is fenced on both sides by vineyards offering a stunning countryside view. Enjoy Marsaxlokk!