Il-Kunsill Lokali tas-Swieqi
|Borders||San Ġwann, Pembroke, St. Julian's, In-Naxxar, Ħal Għargħur|
|• Mayor||Noel Muscat (PN)|
|• Total||3.1 km2 (1.2 sq mi)|
|• Density||2,600/km2 (6,900/sq mi)|
|Demonym||Swieqi (m), Swiqija (f), Swiqin (pl)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Patron saint||Our Lady the Immaculate Conception Mother of the Church|
|Day of festa||8 December|
Is-Swieqi is a municipality and town in northeastern Malta. It is a residential area just 15 minutes by bus from Tas-Sliema and within walking distance of Malta's nightlife and entertainment centres, Paceville and St. Julian's. As the town developed, residential estates took over farmland. The town's name means "water channels", a reminder of the region's past.
The area's quiet environment and central location have made it popular with the upper-middle/high class population of the island. Vacant property in this area is scarce. Is-Swieqi has seen its population rise over the years. It accommodated 8,099 people as of November 2005; a small number of service industries, IT facilities and English language schools have taken root.
The municipality of Is-Swieqi assimilates Is-Swieqi, Tal-Ibraġ, Il-Madliena and part of St Andrews. Il-Madliena and St Andrew's originally formed part of Ħal Għargħur. The Hamlet of Il-Madliena owes its origin to the Chapel of St Mary Magdalen which was built in the 15th century. Tal-Ibraġ is a newly developed Hamlet which over the past decade has almost reached its maximum development potential. St Andrew's is on the outskirts of Is-Swieqi at the border with the locality of Pembroke. The town's coat of arms features a red and gold zig zag motif indicating the valleys and fields of Tal-Ibraġ, blue waves indicating the watering courses (swieqi in Maltese) and a silver saltire. Il-Madliena is indicated with the red letter M. Is-Swieqi has its own local council, and in 2007 it had its own postal code instated (SWQ....). The town fell under the jurisdiction of St Julian's, Birkirkara, San Ġwann, In-Naxxar and Ħal Għargħur at different times in its history.
The town's parish church is dedicated to Our Lady the Immaculate Conception Mother of the Church, celebrated on 8 December. However, the feast is not celebrated, save for a mass and small procession. Very few historical sites can be found in Is-Swieqi. These are located in Il-Madliena, consisting of the Victoria Lines, Madliena Fort, the Batteria San Giovanni and the Madliena Chapel. The church was built on land donated by the Aquilina family. It was situated in the limits of St Helen's Parish, Birkirkara, in an area known as St Andrews. In those days only a few families lived in the area and the majority of these were farmers and manual labourers. These people worked hard for the church to be built and so that they could finally have their own chapel where they could participate in the Eucharistic Liturgy and gather together in prayer. Archbishop Michael Gonzi blessed the foundation stone of the church on 7 May 1964. The building was completed within two years, and His Excellency Bishop Emmanuel Galea blessed this new church and consecrated the marble altar on 13 February 1966. The second Vatican Council declared Our Lady as "Mother of the Church", and so the church was dedicated to Our Lady the Immaculate Conception Mother of the Church.
The first rector was the late Mgr. Stephen Borg, who dedicated much of his time and energy to raising funds. He managed to complete the church with plastering, woodworks, lighting, floor tiles, benches and other amenities, and also commissioned the titular statue of Our Lady, which was to be the focal point of the church. The late Chev. Emvin Cremona designed the splendid sculpture, which was carved out from a single block of wood by Vincent Moroder of Ortisei, Italy. A wooden tabernacle framed by four angels was also the work of Chev. Cremona. This tabernacle is presently positioned in the hall under the church parvis, while the set of angels is temporarily held in storage.
Fr. Vincent Demicoli was the second Rector to serve in this church. It soon became obvious to Fr. Vincent that the Community was growing very rapidly as more people took up residence in this now sought-after area. It is interesting to note that during Fr. Demicoli's tenure, the number of families grew from around twenty to over 1000 families. As the chapel could not accommodate so many people he started studying about how the church could be enlarged. Meanwhile, he began to collect funds towards this project. It was also during this period that the Way of the Cross was commissioned. Marco Cremona, Chev. Cremona's son, undertook the task of creating the fourteen Stations now adorning the Church. Fr. Vincent organised various social activities and the eager response of the community showed the importance of the church as a social centre.
Fr. Dennis Schembri was the next Rector. During his tenure of office the church was separated from St. Helen's parish, Birkirkara and became an Autonomous Pastoral Zone. Fr. Schembri was given the brief to construct a Parish Church in the centre of nearby Pembroke which meant that the Ta' l-Ibrag church would remain a chapel. This decision was a disappointment to the local community who wished the Parish Church to be the heart of the area. Fr. Schembri moved to Turin, Italy after three years. His successor was Fr. George Dalli. The Pembroke project was shelved and the original idea of enlarging the present church was revived. The land adjacent to the church was obtained by exchanging it for other Church-owned land. A house that would serve as the Rector's residence was also acquired. In just under one year the excavation work was completed and three large halls and Catechism rooms were built. On 2 September 1994 the foundation stone for the church extension was laid and blessed by Archbishop Joseph Mercieca.
Within a year the building was completed and on Christmas Eve 1995 the Evening Vigil Mass was celebrated in the new church. The time and effort he dedicated to this project with much love is greatly appreciated. Fr. Dalli not only undertook the task of seeing to the building of the church, but he also embarked on building a very active community with many lay people involved in providing a service to the community. Various groups were formed and a pastoral structure was created whereby every sector of the community was catered for. Fr. Dalli commissioned the artist Marco Cremona to start work on a very large crucifix that would be affixed to the wall behind the altar. The Way of the Cross, which was damaged when vandals set the church on fire on 13 June 1995, was also restored. Two new Stations of the Cross - one representing the Last Supper and the other of the Risen Christ - were also commissioned. His Excellency Bishop Annetto Depasquale blessed the project on 31 March 1999. On Easter Sunday, 4 April 1999, the Church was declared a Parish under the title of Immaculate Mary Mother of the Church. Fr. Paul Camilleri was appointed as the first Parish Priest. On 19 January 2000, Fr. Gordon Refalo was nominated to succeed Fr. Camilleri, who was succeeded by Father Tony Agius. The parish is presently serving a community of over 2,000 families, comprising more than 8,000 parishioners.
Culture and Characteristics
Swieqi is a predominantly Nationalist-oriented town, and at one time, the PN even polled 85% of the total votes. There has been a decline in PN fortunes over these past few years though perhaps due to the emergence of Professor Arnold Cassola who is now a General Secretary of the Green Party in Europe. He lately successfully contested the Italian elections. Is-Swieqi is the hometown of Dolores Cristina, former Minister for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, and Michael Frendo, former Minister for Foreign Affairs. Joe Borg, former Minister for Foreign Affairs and now EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries also lives here. A twinning agreement has been signed between the Is-Swieqi Local Council and the Council of Taormina. This partnership was signed by the Mayor of Taormina Dott. Mario Bolognari and Is-Swieqi's former mayor, Paul Abela. It is the aim of the Councils to lay out the foundations for a new and profound relationship of friendship and solidarity. The twinning should serve to strengthen the existing links between the Maltese and Sicilian Populations.
In July 2002, eleven youths from Is-Swieqi participated in a Youth Exchange Programme, mainly financed by the European Union's programme YOUTHS. The title of the project was "Intercultural Learning and European Awareness through our traditions". The aims of the exchange were "To create an intercultural awareness for disadvantaged youths in Malta and Ireland, to give Malta and Ireland a better understanding of youths and culture within an EU Country and an applicant country, to create a greater union with the EU and to take a holistic approach with young people from a disadvantaged background". The group visited Galway, the Aran Islands and Connemara, with its partner, Foroige, an Irish youths organization. In April 2004, one month before Malta's membership in the EU on 1 May, 14 youths from Is-Swieqi participated in a Youth Exchange Youth Participation in an Enlarged EU. The partner group was from Kerimaki, Finland. The group was also received by the President of the Republic and the Minister for Tourism and Culture.
Is-Swieqi Day is celebrated on 9 September. In the Middle Ages, when the area of the Is-Swieqi Local Council formed part of the Birkirkara Parish, Is-Swieqi was just a stretch of public land void of any buildings. In the first few twenty years of the 16th century, a certain Augustinu Borg occupied a piece of land in Is-Swieqi, in an area known as Nadur Callel. Apart from occupying this land, Borg also decided to build a house and a garden without a legal permit. Therefore, one could say that the first known inhabitant of Is-Swieqi was an illegal builder called Augustinu Borg! A couple of Birkirkara residents, amongst them Ġorġ Lanza Zarb, could not bear to see public land to be stolen so selfishly. Therefore, they joined forces and filed a lawsuit against Augustinu on 9 September 1527. Justice was not served for six years. On 29 August 1533, the court decided that the plot on which Augustinu Borg built was public land and therefore it ordered that this be classified as ‘reduci ad pristinum publicum statum’, meaning that the land was to be restored to its original state.
In remembrance of this historical event, the Is-Swieqi Local Council adopted 9 September as Is-Swieqi Day. Additionally, the Local Council decided to harbour the motto - reduci ad pristinum publicum statum – in order to raise a conscience against the development of illegal property.
The last Is-Swieqi Local Council election took place on 8 March 2012, and the sixth Council was elected.
Swieqi United FC
Is-Swieqi is represented by Swieqi United FC in the BOV Third Division. The club is the youngest football club in Malta and its committee is composed of residents of Is-Swieqi.
Is-Swieqi also has a tennis club in Triq il-Ħemel which offers tennis courses.
Zones in Is-Swieqi
- High Ridge
- Slielem tal-Madliena
- Ta' Misraħ Basili
- Ta' Tuta
- Victoria Gardens
- Wied id-Dis
- Wied Mejxu
- St Andrew's
- Upper Gardens
- Ta' Stronka
Is-Swieqi Main Roads
- Triq il-Keffa
- Triq il-Madliena (Madliena Road)
- Triq il-Miżura
- Triq is-Sidra
- Triq is-Swieqi (Swieqi Road)
- Triq Sant' Andrija (St Andrew's Road)
- Triq Tal-Ibraġ (Tal-Ibrag Road)
- Triq il-Ħemel
- Triq il-Qasam
- Swieqi Local Council
- Swieqi Council members
- Swieqi United FC
- Free Swieqi Guide with Blog, Map and Places Of Interest