What are a group of friends doing on a Saturday afternoon?
Exploring the Xemxija Heritage Trail, known also as ‘The Roman Road’ 😉
Before we start walking here you are some indication and the map, click on the red pin.
Start of Xemxija Hill Heritage Walk St Paul's Bay Malta
If you move by bus, stop at Roti, across the road and take Triq ir-Ridott.
It is very easy to find it, you will see the sign “The Roman Road”, just go forward and then follow the dirt track up on the hill.
You can find a free map of the area at the Tourist Info Point near the Bugibba Square or at the Local Council in St Paul’s Bay, the name of the map is ‘Xemxija Heritage Trail’.
Look at the pictures below. We met one of the men who compiled the map, Mr. Frans Scerri, he was at the beginning of the route giving the maps and showing people the points of interest, we couldn’t be more lucky!
This road was also known as ‘The Pilgrims Way’, an old road taken by pilgrims on their way to Our Lady’s Sanctuary in Mellieha in fulfillment of a vow.
If you look at the small wall on your left that is a piece of history! It is actually a Roman wall, those stones which are the originals and cut from a local quarry in a rectangular or square shaped are witness to their age, 2000 years.
In front of you, on your right, there is another piece of history even older!
The Menhir (a French word, from Middle Breton: maen, “stone” and hir, “long”) a standing stone that dates back to pre-history related to a burial complex of the Bronze Age (2500- 1500 BC). It is not to exclude the hypothesis that this Menhir is the last stone of a megalithic temple (4100 – 2500 BC).
Notice that the view from the Roman wall goes to the Natural Reserve called Is-Simar, of which I will tell you more in this article, click here
After the Menhir my friends and I found ‘The cave of the Gallery‘. This is one of the many caves in the area that was used for human habitation up to the not too distant past. Originally it must have been a prehistoric tomb during the Neolithic times, possibly up to the Roman period.
While we were walking to the top of the hill we saw two cyclists on their mountain bikes. If this picture inspires you to adventure on bike you can rent one clicking here 😉
On the hill you will be stop by the view of a huge Burial Cave, which according to the Xeritage Trail Map was once hidden from view behind a rocky screen that has since collapsed.
Next to the Burial Cave you will explore one of Flora the Explorer’s favourite spots, the beautiful Carob Tree and the Roman apiaries. This carob tree is 1000 years old! If you look at it seems that it has got a face and wants to tell you the story of this place.
In the articles dedicated to Zejtun, we discovered how deeply is shaped a territory by the people who live there in a particular historical period. Well the Romans, more than 2000 years ago, used to export in their colonies, their own customs and products to grow, that were part of their diet and usefull for their life. So here in Malta they used to cultivate the olive tree (click here) as well as being good beekeepers. It is known that the Romans also used to import a lot of oil and honey from different Mediterranean countries such as Malta, which they used to call ‘Melita’, to underline the precious honey that was abundant in the islands.
After this stop my explorers you will walk again to the top of the hill. If you choose the right side at the beginning of the grove you will find Neolithic Temple ruins date back to c. 2,800 BC
I know, that’s WOW!
Exploring this area is like wearing the shoes of Harrison Ford… Every step is an adventure!
In fact while you are walking you can see certain things dating back many years, like the Punic tombs.
Look at my friends looking cautiously down that big hole, it is a granary. This deeply dug silo, cut in the rocks with great precision dates back to the Prehistoric Period and would have been used to store grain and other cereals.
Than we took the path towards the Roman Baths, this site is amazing. To arrive there you need to go down some steps that are often covered by vegetation, so be careful. The Roman Baths present cold and tepid pools and hot rooms cut into the rocks, in steep cliffs. I thought that the Romans have chosen a very scenic place for their baths overlooking Xemxija Bay, or probably Malta was completely different then.
Our last stop was the area covered by the Cart-ruts. This very clear pair runs along the scarp of Xemxija Hill with Mistra Valley below. The cart-ruts are a mystery of the Maltese archaeology.
We don’t know exactly when they date back to, maybe to the Temple Period, the Bronze Age or the Phoenicians. We don’t know exactly even their purpose, maybe they where used for transporting building stone.
That’s why I told you that it is like being Harrison Ford in one of his adventures! Here in Malta there is a lot to discover, maybe beyond the historical evidence.
Thanks to all my explorers friends, it was an unforgettable day!