Wied il-Għajn, M'Skala
|Il-Kunsill Lokali ta' Marsaskala|
|Motto: Għajn ta' kenn u mistrieħ|
|Borders||Marsaxlokk, Ħaż-Żabbar, Iż-Żejtun|
|• Mayor||Mario Calleja (PL)|
|• Total||5.4 km2 (2.1 sq mi)|
|Population (March 2013)|
|• Density||2,200/km2 (5,700/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Patron saint||St. Anne|
|Day of festa||Last Sunday of July|
Marsaskala (M'Skala) is a sea-side village in Malta that has grown up around the small harbour at the head of Marsaskala Bay, a long narrow inlet also known as Marsaskala Creek. The bay is sheltered to the north by Ras iż-Żonqor, the south-east corner of Malta, and to the south by the headland of Ras il-Gżira.
The name comes from the words "Marsa" (meaning "Port") and "Sqalli" (meaning "Sicilian").
The village extends along both sides of the bay, and across most of Il-Ħamrija, a creek leading to Il-Ponta tal-Gzira.
The shore north of Ras iż-Żonqor is of low cliffs, with shelving rock ledges south of the point. Marsaskala Bay is largely edged by promenade, with low shelving rock ledges cut with salt pans on the seaward face of Ras iċ-Ċerna, which continue on round the eastern point, past l-Abjad iż-Żgħir, and into Il-Bajja ta' San Tumas (St Thomas Bay) to the south.
The parish church is dedicated to Sant Anna (St. Anne) and St Anne's feast is celebrated at the end of July in Marsaskala.
The town has a winter population of 11,892 people (March 2013), but this swells to around 20,000 in summer.
The first council in Marsaskala was formed in April 1994. The first village mayor was also Malta's first female mayor - Mrs Marvic Attard Gialanze representing the Marsaskala Residents Association. The present Marsaskala local council was elected in June 2009. The Malta Labour Party's majority in the locality was increased.
The main issue in this election was the controversial proposal of the building of a new waste recycling plant and a number of biogas tanks in Sant' Antnin Valley. This development is being challenged by a committee composed of seven Labour-led local councils (including Marsaskala) and eight local non-government organisations. The matter has been raised in the European Parliament.
The President of Malta George Abela, the Prime-Minister of Malta Lawrence Gonzi and two Labour Members of Parliament, Dr Owen Bonnici and Dr Helena Dalli live in the Marsaskala area, as does the leader of the defunct party Azzjoni nazzjonali, Josie Muscat.
Derivation of the name
Different opinions exist regarding the origin of the name Marsaskala. While it is commonly agreed that Marsa is an Arabic word meaning bay, Skala has given rise to different interpretations. It could have been derived from Sqalli (Sicilian) for Marsaskala was frequented by Sicilian fishermen since Malta is just 60 miles (97 km) south from Sicily. Maybe it was derived from the Sicilian 'Piccola Cala' meaning little inlet or it was just a reference to some rock-cut steps on the water's edge. (Skala also means a straight flight of steps).
Marsaskala is better known as Wied il-Għajn by the Maltese as the bay and the old small village are flanked by two valleys, through which a spring of fresh water used to flow down into the innermost bay. Wied means valley and Għajn (pronounced ayn) refers to the spring of fresh water. Literally, Wied il-Għajn means Valley of the Spring.
Man inhabited this area thousands of years ago as evidenced by the several archaeological remains found in various areas of Marsaskala. Its Pre-history is normally divided in the Neolithic period and the Bronze Age. Some of the most ancient remains at Marsaskala are undoubtedly the cart-ruts, which are parallel channels formed in the rock face. Some of Malta's cart-ruts, mysteriously, lead straight into the sea. Difficulties and uncertainties still abound as regards their use as well as the time and the way they were made, though it seems that they served to transport heavy burdens from one place to another.
Early Christian catacombs as well as Roman era villa remains, were also discovered in Marsaskala, the latter suggesting that Marsaskala was also a Roman port. Remains of Roman Baths were found in a field at il-Gżira, a rock peninsula behind the Jerma Palace Hotel.
The still standing magnificent St Thomas Tower was built by the Knights Hospitaller (The Knights Of St John) soon after an attack on the south of Malta by 60 Turkish ships carrying 6000 soldiers, landing in Marsaskala in 1614. This brought back fear and terrifying memories of the 1565 Great Siege of Malta by the Ottoman Turks. Marsaskala's vulnerability to sea borne attacks was reduced by the building of this fortified tower by Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt. Other fortified towers still exist in the area, notably Mamo Tower and a De Redin watch tower.
St. Paul's Shipwreck controversy
In 2003, U.S. amateur archaeologist Bob Cornuke caused a controversy with statements written in his book The Lost Shipwreck of St. Paul, where he claimed that the Apostle Paul had been shipwrecked in St Thomas' Bay, in Marsaskala. These claims were rebuked by other experts.
Marsaskala Local Council
The current Marsaskala Local Council members are:
- Calleja Mario (Mayor, PL)
- Attard Desiree (Vice-Mayor, PL)
- Camilleri John Baptist (PN)
- Cassar Elizabeth (PL)
- Cassar Charlot (PN)
- Ciantar Lawrence(PL)
- Gatt Sandro(PN)
- Mifsud Carmel Charlot (PL)
- Spiteri Daniel(PL)
The main sports in Marsaskala are football and waterpolo. Marsaskala F.C. are Malta's newest football club. Founded in 2010, they won promotion in 2013 and currently play in the MFA Second Division.
Marsaskala Sports Club, originally founded in 1927, and re-founded in 1974 is one of the oldest waterpolo clubs in Malta. Having languished in the second division for many years, Marsaskala Sports Club established themselves as one of Malta's top teams in the mid-nineties. In 1997 they were crowned Malta champions, the only season the trophy was won by a club from southern Malta. They have represented Malta in the Ligue Européenne de Natation (LEN) Trophy in Chios, Greece in 1997 and the European Champions Cup in 1998 in Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic, becoming the first Maltese team to win two European Champions Cup matches, against Swiss champions Horgen and the hosts themselves.
Several Marsaskala Sports Club products have also played with distinction in the national team, amongst of which were Charles Flask, Alfred Xuereb il-Yogi, Charles Żammit, Joseph Caruana Dingli, Anton Privitera, Paul Privitera and John Licari. Both Joseph Caruana Dingli and Paul Privitera have also captained the Malta national team on many occasions.
Marsaskala was also the venue of the 2005 European Eight-ball Pool Championships and the European Darts Championships, both held at the Jerma Palace Hotel.
Twin towns - Sister cities
Marsaskala is a member of the Douzelage, a unique town twinning association of 24 towns across the European Union. This active town twinning began in 1991 and there are regular events, such as a produce market from each of the other countries and festivals. Discussions regarding membership are also in hand with three further towns (Agros in Cyprus, Škofja Loka in Slovenia, and Tryavna in Bulgaria).
Marsaskala main roads
- Triq Ħaż-Żabbar (Zabbar Road)
- Triq id-Daħla ta' San Tumas (St Thomas Bay Road)
- Triq il-Qaliet (Qaliet Street)
- Triq is-Salini (Salini Street)
- Triq ix-Xatt (Marina Street)
- Triq iż-Żonqor (Zonqor Road)
- Triq La Sengle (La Sengle Street)
- Triq San Ġużepp (St Joseph Street)
- Triq San Luqa (St Luke Street)
- Triq Sant' Anna (St Anne Street)
- Triq Sant' Antnin (Sant' Antnin Road)
- Triq Tal-Gardiel (Tal-Gardiel Road)
- Estimated Population by Locality 31st March, 2013. Malta Government Gazette 19,094. Retrieved 11 June 2014.
- Borg, Steve. "The ‘Marsascala Committee Against the Recycling Plant’ visit European Parliament - The Malta Independent". Independent.com.mt. Retrieved 2013-03-26.
- "Douzelage.org: Home". www.douzelage.org. Retrieved 2009-10-21.
- "Douzelage.org: Member Towns". www.douzelage.org. Retrieved 2009-10-21.
- Marsaskala Local Council
- Places to visit in Marsaskala
- Local Zonqor area site