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Qormi/Handaq


Qormi, also known as Città Pinto, is a city in central Malta with a population of 20,078 which makes it the second largest locality in Malta. It is a place with great history and possesses a rich heritage, which can still be enjoy today. There are two valleys in Qormi: Wied il-Kbir (The Large Valley) and Wied is-Sewda (The Black Valley).

Antique findings indicate that Qormi was first inhabited many years ago. Bronze Age pottery was found in the area known as Stabal indicating presence of humans as early as 1500-800 BC. Punic tombs have also been found at St Edward's Street and Tal-Bajjada, and some Ancient Roman remains were found in the valley of Wied il-Kbir. However it is believed that there was only a small community in the whereabouts of Qormi and that it was only in the Middle Ages that Qormi started to grow and prosper, thanks to its location close to the Grand Harbour. The first written reference to the town is made in 1417, where it is recorded that the town provided some 100 men to serve in the Dejma, the national guard.

In 1743 the town was granted the status of a city by Grandmaster Emanoel Pinto de Fonseca, hence the name Citta’ Pinto. The decree issued by the Grandmaster read "Habita relatione, Terra Curmi erigmus In Civitatem, Imponentes el nomen Pinto", which means that the land of Qormi was then given higher dignity from a piece of land to a city, a fact which is now preserved in the locality's Latin motto: "Altior Ab Imo" which means, rising from the low.

Qormi played a small role in both World Wars. In World War I, many people from Qormi were employed at several British bases including the airship station in the area known as Saint Sebastian. In World War II, its inhabitants formed part of the Armed Forces. Qormi also became a refuge to many people from the Cottonera area, which was badly hit due to its location just off the Grand Harbour.

Qormi is divided into two parishes dedicated to Saint George and Saint Sebastian. Saint George's parish was the first one, however when Qormi was growing, there was the need for the city to be split into two parishes to facilitate growth. The second parish church was built and the patron Saint Sebastian was chosen because Qormi had turned to him during times of plague infestation as he is the protector and patron saint of people ill from the plague, according to Catholic tradition. For two weeks in summer, Qormi celebrates the feasts of its saints with the feast of Saint George being celebrated on the last Sunday of June and the feast of Saint Sebastian being celebrated on the third Sunday of July. The town is also known for its Good Friday procession commencing from the church of Saint George, which features a number of life-size statues and over 500 participants.

Throughout the year various trades, crafts and sports grew, particularly horse racing which is a hobby that Maltese often attribute to people from Qormi. Qormi is recognized nationally as the capital of Maltese bread-making. It boasts the largest number of bakeries in the country, several of which still operate in the traditional manner using wood-fired ovens. Qormi organizes the annual event of 'Lejl f'Casal Fornaro' where one can see different shows and exhibitions showing the traditional life of Qormi and experience the tasty and purely traditional Maltese food.

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