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Gozo - Ghajnsielem


G─žajnsielem, meaning "Spring of Peace", is a situated on the southeastern coast of the island of Gozo and it includes the entire island of Comino. With a population of 2,570 residents, Ghajnsielem’s name originated from a water spring, around which in 1700, Grandmaster Perellos built an arcade containing public washbasins and fresh water spouts.

Imrejzbiet and Tal-Qieghan Temples contains megalithic slabs as large as ten feet but with no discernible shape or form. Most probably the two temples formed a single complex with a unique combination of a major temple, a cult center and one or more settlements but they were disjoined and trounced by the surrounding buildings. Unfortunately the site has never been excavated, and there is no indication of its date however archaeologists believe that these date to the Temple period (4100 - 2500BC).

Close to Ghajnsielem one finds the famous and historic Fort Chambray. This fortress started to be built during the Knights of St. John era with the idea of building a new city to replace the Citadel and Rabat, just as they did with Valletta in Malta. It was believed that its construction would increase commerce between Malta and Gozo and attract new families to the island. The town was to have the Governor's Palace, a parochial church and an administrative building. Each building block was to have a central courtyard to shelter more people in an emergency. The town never materialized, however, and efforts were made to sell land to the public but this was to no success because of fear of attacks from the sea, thus Fort Chambray never became a city. Barracks were built during the World War I, however during the World War II it was used as a hospital. In fact, shelters can be found in the fort itself.

Mgarr ix-Xini is a bay within the western limits of the village. This bay was used by Turkish raiders in the famous raid on Gozo of 1551, when according to historians, the whole population was carried off into slavery. At the end of the sixteenth century, the Tower of Mgarr ix-Xini was built to safeguard the island. However this tower was not adequate and a bigger tower was built inland on the hill overlooking the bay known as the Tower of St. Cecilia deriving its name from a nearby medieval chapel dedicated to Saint Cecilia Chapel. The chapel is still in its original form and is the best surviving example of other similar chapels that once formed along countryside.

The 'Pjazza tad-Dehra' (the apparition square) is where Grand Master Raymond Perellos built an arcade and six stone washing basins, and where 'Ghajn Salem', the spring that gave its name to the village used to flow. It was next to this spring that a farmer, who used to pray on the spot whilst his flock quenched its thirst, had received a heavenly message from a beautiful lady dressed immaculately white who invited him to raise a statue in her honour on a lip of land close by.

Ghajniselem holds strong religious values. The can be seen from a string of holy niches bearing a variety of saints’ statues around the streets of this village. The parish of Ghajnsielem is dedicated to Our Lady of Loreto. The need for a bigger church led to a new one being built and completed in 1980. The feast of Our Lady of Loreto is celebrated on the last Sunday of August whilst the secondary feast of St Anthony is celebrated on the first Sunday of June.

A visit to Ghajnsielem should include the chapel of our Lady of Lourdes, built on a hill from where the view of Mgarr Harbour and its fishing village can be enjoyed especially at sunset. The Gothic style chapel built in 1888 is a place of pilgrimage for people from all over the island, especially in the days coinciding with the 'visions of Our lady of Lourdes' in southern France.

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