Marsaskala: A Travel Guide

Xceltrip|6 min read|Dec 6, 2019

The seaside village of Marsaskala (also referred to as Wied il-Għajn locally) lies in the south east of Malta, very close to the fishing village of Marsaxlokk.Built around a small natural harbour, Marsaskala has been popular with fishermen since antiquity, and continues to be popular even today.

Although archaeologists found evidence of Roman settlements around Marsaskala, the area remained largely unpopulated until recent times. It seems that since the natural harbour was easily accessible by invaders, people were afraid of settling in the area. Just a hundred years ago, there were only a handful of residences in the area, and these were fortified by their owners. The locality is home to around 12,000 inhabitants although, similarly to Mellieħa

it’s a popular location to stay during the summer months for locals (having summer residences there) as well as tourists. Having said that, Marsaskala is by no means a tourist hotspot and still relatively quiet at that time of year still.

St Thomas Tower

Grand Master Wignacourt commissioned the building of St Thomas Tower out of his own pocket, building it on a plot of land he had bought. It cost him 12,000 skudi, a huge sum for the time and is bigger than other towers built by the Order of St John.

The reason is that, apart from guarding the bay, it was also used for storing weapons. The eighteen-metre high tower, which was named after a small chapel dedicated to St Thomas, has four small bastions, one in every corner.

The walls are five metres thick and a wide dry ditch runs all round the tower. A small window in the basement looks over the front battery which was armed with cannons and faced the sea. The tower used to have a drawbridge.


Mamo Tower

Mamo Tower was built in 1657 by the Mamo family. It can be found in the area known as Tar-Rumi, on the road leading to Żejtun. Built in the form of a cross, it has a small dry ditch around it and used to have a drawbridge.

On the inside, Mamo Tower has a big circular room in the centre, with three lateral smaller rooms opening into each of the arms. The fourth arm contains a flight of stairs leading to the roof. It was recently renovated by Din l-Art Ħelwa, a government owned organisation.


Tal-Buttar Tower

This tower, although privately owned, has been declared a national monument due to its unique features. Tall-Buttar Tower in fact contains a watermill within it and the machinery of the watermill is probably one of the best surviving examples in the Malta.


San Gaetan Chapel

The same family that built Mamo Tower built St Gaetan Chapel in1657. This chapel and its saint were very sought after by local fishermen and their devotion is reflected in the inscriptions still visible on the stone of the medieval building.


St Anthony Chapel

Originally within the limits of Żejtun, this chapel is dedicated to St Anthony of Padua and was built in 1675. The feast of St Anthony is still held annually on June 13th with a mass and a short homily.

Small loaves of bread are distributed among the congregation on this day. Within the chapel there’s a small statue of St Anthony which used to be taken out to sea by Maltese fishermen. They lowered the statue into the sea praying and hoping for a good catch. And farmers used to lower it inside their wells during droughts.


The Three Crosses monument

The origins of the Three Crosses monument are shrouded in mystery. Over the years, there have been many different interpretations as to why it was built. Among the popular theories are that three monks were killed by Turks and buried there; a man died of the plague and was buried at the site by the people of Żejtun; an elderly hermit was buried three times in that place, after arising from death. Another less fantastical theory suggests that the Monument of the Three Crosses was built around 1615 to indicate the confines between Żejtun and Żabbar.


Żonqor Point Salt Pans

All along the coast of Marsaskala salt pans are a common sight, especially at Żonqor Point and also towards St Thomas Bay. These historic salt pans, called salini by the Maltese, have been carved out into the top layer of rock in squarish shapes. When filled with water, these salt pans make for an interesting sight to behold, especially at sunset.


Riħama Battery

Riħama Battery lies on the southern end of St Thomas Bay. It used to be an artillery battery built by the Order of the Knights between 1714 and 1716 as one of a series of coastal fortifications around the coasts of the Maltese Islands. The building still exists but has long since fallen into disrepair.


Why it’s worth staying in Marsaskala

Marsaskala is a nice authentic town with a laid-back atmosphere. Cafes, bars and restaurants are plenty and the harbour area, with its wide promenade, offers a fantastic venue for quiet strolls by the water.

The nearby beaches of St Thomas Bay and St Peter’s Pool also attract many swimmers. Other than to chill out, Marsaskala does not offer much else. There are some historical towers worth a visit. Also chapels and salt pans that might be interesting. Overall, however, this is a village where one goes to relax.

It’s a good and quieter alternative to avoid the hustle and bustle of busy tourist resorts like Sliema, St. Julian’s and Buġibba, but really only if you’re looking for a quiet holiday by the sea. If your main priority is to explore Malta, there are better, more central options to stay in.

Use XcelTrip to vacation at Marsaskala Malta and use this travel guide to make memories that last a lifetime. Follow us on Instagram for more travel inspiration- click here!


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