Talk to any resident of Mellieha and they’ll probably tell you they live in the best town in Malta and wouldn’t dream of moving elsewhere. One can quite see their point. Unlike most other towns whose outskirts now touch the next village (or villages…), Mellieha stands proud and aloof a good three kilometres from the next town of St.Paul’s Bay – quite a long distance by local miniscule standards!
Mellieha has successfully retained some old world charm in its lovely centre while busy transforming itself into a quality resort. Some three lavish hotels line its busy main street while another two are found outside town – one at each end of Ghadira Bay located a short distance outside town.
Ghadira Bay – Malta’s longest stretch of sand at over two kilometres – is the town’s biggest summer draw, but there are other attractive and lesser known beaches in the vicinity with perhaps Mgiebah Bay being the prettiest.
Mellieha year round resort - Mellieha is also a very attractive place outside of the summer months since it is a very good base for country walking. The Majjistral Park to the southwest of town is the island’s largest natural habitat area, combining swathes of garigue and other habitats which come alive with a great variety of flora in winter and spring. Also south of town is the lovely Selmun area with its romantic castle and more stretches of open land. To the north, the Qammieh peninsula with its ubiquitous Red Tower is also worth exploring. Next to Ghadira Bay there’s Malta’s largest bird reserve run by Birdlife Malta – a haven for wintering birds and waders. Egrets and a variety of ducks can be seen – and if you’re lucky a sheltering flamingo.
The town is dominated by the parish church, splendidly located on a buff on the edge of a cliff and therefore much photographed, though otherwise perhaps undistinguished. The area around the church is a very interesting one, containing a religious complex which dates back to the early days of Christianity. This is the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Victories, the origins of which are said to date back to the time of St. Paul. This church is in fact partially rock-hewn and according to one tradition the Madonna icon painted on one of the walls is the work of St. Luke, who accompanied Paul on his fateful trip. Although highly dubious, this doesn’t detract from the sanctuary’s overall sense of beauty and devotion. The sanctuary opens on a delightful enclosed piazza – the only one of its sort in Malta – with alcoves offering great views of Ghadira Bay. Pope John Paul II visited the sanctuary on his first trip to Malta in 1990 (the first time a pope visited Malta) and made a short address from the square – another fact the Melliehin are inordinately proud of. Within this area one also finds a large underground World War II communal shelter stretching some 500 metres.
Mellieha also offers a wide range of restaurants and good public transport connections to the rest of the island – an excellent year round resort. It is also excellently placed for day trips to both Gozo and Comino.
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