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|City and Local council|
|Il-Kunsill Lokali tas-Siġġiewi|
Pjazza San Nikola, Siġġiewi - Malta
|Motto: Città Ferdinand|
|Borders||Qrendi, Rabat, Dingli, Żebbuġ, Qormi, Luqa, Mqabba|
|• Mayor||Karol Aquilina (PN)|
|• Total||19.9 km2 (7.7 sq mi)|
|Population (March 2013)|
|• Density||420/km2 (1,100/sq mi)|
|Demonym||Siġġiewi (m), Siġġiwija (f), Siġġiwin (pl)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Patron saint||St. Nicholas|
|Day of festa||Last Sunday of June|
Siġġiewi (or Città Ferdinand) is a city and a local council in the southwestern part of Malta. It is the third council in Malta (Surface area), after Rabat and Mellieha respectively. It is situated on a plateau, a few kilometres away from Mdina, the ancient capital city of Malta, and 10 kilometres (6 miles) away from Valletta, the contemporary capital. It is the home of 8274 inhabitants as of March 2011.
Until several decades ago, most of the population was employed in the fields which surround the village. Until 2001, the motto of Siġġiewi was "Labore et Virtute" (Work and Virtue).
In its demographic and topographical formation, Siġġiewi followed a pattern common to other villages in Malta. Before the arrival of the Order of St John in 1530, there were other thriving hamlets in the area. Little by little Ħal Xluq, Ħal Kbir, Ħal Niklusi and Ħal Qdieri were absorbed in Siġġiewi and today, only their secluded chapels remind us of their former existence.
Siġġiewi was already established in the 14th century. On December 30, 1797, after a formal request by Don Salvatore Curso, on behalf of his parishioners, Grand Master Ferdinand Von Hompesch instituted the village as a city calling it after his name, "Città Ferdinand".
The ruins of the former parish church, dedicated to St Nicholas of Bari are still visible today. Lately, great restoration works have been carried out and retrieved its old glory. The baroque parish church, dedicated to the same saint, was erected by the villagers who raised the necessary funds between the years 1676 to 1693. It was designed by the Maltese architect, Lorenzo Gafà but underwent some changes throughout the years. The portico and naves were added by Professor Nicola Żammit in the latter half of the 19th century.
The titular painting in the church is by the artist Mattia Preti, 'Il calabrese', who was also responsible for the painting on the vault of St John's Co-Cathedral in Valletta. The wooden statue which is carried in procession in the city feast day (the last Sunday of June) was sculptured by Pietro Felici in 1736. Fours years earlier, in 1732, the same sculptor had produced the stone statue which still stands in the centre of the square. On its pedestal there is a prayer in Latin which implores the saint to bless the fields which the faithful laboriously till.
From Siġġiewi, you can look upon the Inquisitor's summer palace, built by inquisitor Onorato Visconti in 1625 and renovated by inquisitor Angelo Dorini in 1763. Today it is the Maltese Prime Minister's official residence. The palace of Grand Master Verdalle is one of the residences of the Presidents of the Republic, called Verdala Palace. Adjoining this palace one finds the famous Buskett, a small semi-wild woodland which Grand Masters such as La Vallette used as hunting grounds.
Within the local council of Siġġiewi lies Għar Lapsi, Fawwarra, Girgenti, Ta' Kandja and the Hill of Laferla Cross. From there the islet of Filfla can be seen on the horizon. The village stands on a flat plateau flanked by two relatively deep valleys (Wied il-Hesri and Wied Xkora).
There are several niches in the old part of the city. Some date back to the middle of the 17th century and are a sign of devotion as well as an architectural decoration.
Siġġiewi also celebrates its Feast in the last week of June, in honour of Saint Nicholas, with band marches around the streets, aerial fireworks and catherine wheels, street decorations and celebrations in the main church.
Malta Falconry Centre lies just outside the city.
Every village in Malta celebrates the local church's patron saint with a major festa lasting a week or nine days. When the main Saint Nicholas festa in Siggiewi is held the last Sunday in June, the Church of Saint Nicholas is beautifully decorated and lit, inside and out. The whole village, houses and all, are festooned with garlands, banners and flags. Festival week is also a time for visiting and hospitality as people come from all over Malta to enjoy the celebration.
Brass bands march and play in competition throughout the week. The oldest Siggiewi band, St. Nicholas Band Club, located on St. Nicholas Square, and the Siggiewi Festival Brass Band and Social Club, organized in the 1990s, both make the Siggiewi St. Nicholas feast one of Malta's most enjoyable.
As with most festivals, food is important. Kiosks sell ice cream, hot dogs, burgers, kebobs, chips and more. Special sweets include mgaret, pastry stuffed with dates, and white nougat with almonds or peanuts.
The week features many processions—one night features relics, another, St. Nicholas statue—and religious services. Solemn Mass with Gregorian chant, Solemn Te Deum, Solemn Novena with Hymns to St. Nicholas, and Solemn Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, are all part of the week-long celebration. The long homily features rhyming words and may be evaluated by how many Latin quotations or how many times St. Nicholas' name is used.
Saturday night Siggiewi Festa On Saturday night before the Sunday Feast Day a major procession with brass bands goes through the village. A spectacular fireworks display ends the evening.
On Sunday the large St. Nicholas statue comes out of the church go in procession through the village. This lively procession has rich music, incense, confetti thrown by bystanders, and palm branches and flowers. On returning to the church the statue is welcomed with clapping, crying and singing. Inside the church the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament follows. It is a truly beautiful climax to the week of festivity.
There is competition among Malta villages to have the most spectacular feast. So each town strives to have the most extravagant fireworks and the most accomplished musicians. Festival organizers collect significant funds so they can add to their accumulation of statues, flags and banners. These rivalries go back a long time—when the churches were built, parishioners gave generously to build the most beautiful and rich churches they could afford. Churches are prominently placed and can often be seen for miles.
Though the main festival, like most traditional festivals in Malta is in June, there is also a festival Mass for St. Nicholas on his feast day in 6 December. The Saint Nicholas Band Club decorates the main piazza balconies with six large banners. After the Mass they play a concert in front of the church.
Culture and Sport
Siġġiewi is the location of two band clubs, the Banda San Nikola A.D.1883 and the Siggiewi Festival Brass Band, founded in 1986. The Siggiewi Festival Brass Band was the first band established in Malta which plays only instruments made of brass. It is also the home of a scout group, Siggiewi Football Club, Siggiewi Basketball Club and St Nicholas Suns Basketball Club. The St Nicholas Fireworks Factory is based in the town.
Zones in Siġġiewi
- Bur ix-Xewk
- Għajn il-Kbira
- Għar il-Kbir
- Għar Lapsi
- Għar Mundu
- Laferla Cross (Salib La Ferla)
- Rdum Dikkiena
- Salib tal-Għolja
- Ta' Dun Konz
- Ta' Fonzu
- Ta' Fuq il-Blat
- Ta' Kandja
- Ta' Kirċippu
- Ta' Raba'
- Ta' Żagi
- Ta' Zuta
- Ta' l-Għaqba
- Ta' L-Imwiegel
- Ta' l-Għolja
- Vina l-Kbira
- Wied il-Girgenti
- Wied il-Ħesri
- Wied il-Luq
- Wied San Anton
- Wied Xkora
- Carmel Vella, SIGGIEWI (Città Ferdinand)- A Profile of History, Social Life and Traditions.
- Pawlu Aquilina, Hawn Twieldet u tibqa' thabbat Qalbi. (My heart was born here and will beat here forever). Memoirs/social history of the last 70 years.
- Siġġiewi Local Council
- Website about this beautiful village
- Map showing town and environs
- Website on the 6th of December Street Decorations Group, for the Feast of St. Nicholas