Heritage Malta, the national agency for cultural heritage, has provided itineraries for five heritage trails that the public will be able to enjoy as part of the ‘Smiles with Miles’ initiative. This initiative was launched earlier this year by Dr Lydia Abela as a national effort to increase physical exercise in our country and help mental health projects among adolescents.
The heritage trails cover different parts of Malta and are distributed according to particular themes. Two of them also include Heritage Malta sites that one can stop and visit before continuing on one’s way. The first heritage trail is ‘The Way of the Views’, which starts from Dingli and ends in Siġġiewi; the second is themed around ‘Churches and Chapels’ and passes by various places of worship along a route that takes you from Kirkop to Zurrieq. The heritage trail ‘From the Bastions to the Countryside’ takes you from Saqqajja to Mdina and other beautiful places in the vicinity of Rabat, and passes in front of the Museum of Natural History, the Roman Domvs and the Catacombs of St Paul and St Agatha. The fourth heritage trail, entitled ‘From City to Temples’, departs from Rabat and descends to Żebbiegħ and Mġarr, where one can stop to visit the temples of Skorba and Ħaġrat. The last heritage trail, ‘Towards the Sun in the South’, leaves Żejtun and draws towards Delimara, Xrobb l-Għaġin, and Wied il-Għajn.
At a press conference, the Minister for National Heritage, Arts and Local Government José Herrera stressed that the benefits of heritage trails are many. Among them is the benefit to health, where one takes time off from the sedentary life that most of us live and spends a few hours walking or cycling in a tranquil environment. There is also the social benefit, as these trails provide an opportunity for small groups of friends, family, neighbours or co-workers to come together to participate in this experience together. Another benefit is the educational one, as these heritage trails really offer a wealth of information for those who are interested in learning more about the places they encounter along the particular route they choose.
The Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Malta, Noel Zammit, said that heritage trails are an ideal way to marry historical and cultural heritage with the enjoyment of the natural landscape of our country while also contributing to a noble cause. The heritage trails that pass by Heritage Malta sites also offer the opportunity to use the agency’s passports for students and seniors to visit these sites free of charge. Mr Zammit recalled that Heritage Malta had believed in the ‘Smiles with Miles’ initiative from the very beginning, so much so that months ago, it had encouraged all its employees to take part in it.
Dr Abela closed this conference encouraging everyone to participate in this activity to continue to help gather more miles through this app. She stressed that this initiative can make a difference and benefit many people because apart from participants receiving lovely gifts thanks to the generous sponsors, depending on how many miles covered, the initiative’s main goal is to translate the miles undertaken into funds that will go directly into helping various services for people suffering from mental illness challenges. Thus, with ‘Smiles with Miles’ we not only take care of our health, but we enable others to smile too.
We leave the square of the Church of the Assumption of Dingli, walk to the village cemetery and take the road that leads to the cliff. We walk along the cliffs, where we enjoy the beautiful views as far as the Madalena Chapel. From here, you can enjoy the most breathtaking views of the cliffs from the Belvedere around the chapel.
We continue walking along the cliff road until we reach il-Wardija ta’ San Ġorġ. From this promontory, one can enjoy spectacular views of the cliffs and the sea in the beautiful environs of Fawwara.
From here, you can also see the island of Filfla and the area around Għar Lapsi. We can also view the remains of a Bronze Age village, where you can observe clefts in the rock and several pits where food was stored.
From this promontory, we take a path that descends from amidst the high rocks towards Fawwara. Upon reaching the bottom, we follow a path that leads us to the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which has a spring of natural water that flows all year round.
From here, we take the road that passes under the cliff known as Ta’ Ġebel Ciantar. We pass in front of the Church of the Annunciation and continue to the outskirts of tal-Providenza. We cross the road and enter the beautiful Church of Our Lady of Providence. From here, we take the road that leads to the picturesque square of Siġġiewi, where we see the parish church of St Nicholas, the chapel of St John the Baptist, which faces the Church of St. Mary, and in the middle of the square, we see the colossal statue of St. Nicholas of Bari.
We leave Ħal Kirkop Square, near St. Leonard’s Parish Church, and walk down the street in front of the Church to pass by the Chapel of the Annunciation.
From here, we walk towards the primary school next to St. Benedict’s College.
We walk along the road that takes us to Ħal Safi until we reach the heart of the village. Here we see the Chapel of St. Mary, and a short distance from it, we come across the Parish Church of the Conversion of St. Paul.
We walk along the road that takes us to Ix- Xarolla, and in the middle of this road, we come across a remnant of a building wall that dates back to the Punic period. We arrive near the Xarolla Mill, where we can admire the remains of a Roman road and a number of catacombs from the same period. Here we also find the Chapel of St. Andrew. We cross the road and enter Triq Sant’Andrija until we reach Triq San Bartilmew.
We walk down this street and arrive in front of St. Bartholomew’s Chapel. From here, we walk to Zurrieq square, where we find the Parish Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria.
We turn into Triq il-Kbira until we reach the Chapel of Santu Rokku, we continue down Triq il-Kbira, and we enter Triq l-Inġinier.
We arrive at Misraħ San Lazzru and pass through Triq il-Qroll. We exit into Blue Grotto street and walk outwards, not towards the sea. We enter Triq l-Imqabba, and halfway down we turn to Ħal Millieri, where we find the medieval chapel of the Annunciation. Next to it, we also find the Chapel of St John the Baptist. We walk towards the cross and amble along Triq Ġużepp Barbara, which takes us back to the village of Ħal Kirkop, from whence we started.
We leave Saqqajja for Mdina Gate. We pass in front of Vilhena Palace (Museum of Natural History) next to the Benedictine Monastery.
We walk to the Cathedral square, pass in front of the Carmelite Church and Priory on the way to the bastions, head towards Triq il-Magazzini, and exit through the Greek Gate.
We walk up to the Roman Domvs and walk to Ta’ Doni Church. We continue on our way to the Church of ta’ Ġieżu and head towards the Parish of St. Paul. From the square, we enter the Church of St Cataldus and walk to the Catacombs of St Paul and St Agatha.
From there, we walk to Ħal Bajjada and continue downhill towards Bieb ir-Ruwa. We cross the road and enter Ix-Xagħra tal-Lunzjata, walk towards Ta’ San Anard and pass in front of the Church of the Annunciation.
From there, we descend to Landrijiet Valley, walk towards Għajn Qajjet and pass through Triq l-Għeriexem until we reach the Roman Domvs again.
Leaving from near the Roman Domvs in Rabat and walking along Triq l-Għeriexem, we continue downwards towards Għajn Qajjet and Wied il-Qlejgħa. We take the road leading to Binġemma and pass by the Victoria Lines in front of the Church of Our Lady of the Road. We go down towards the valley and continue in the direction of Żebbiegħ. We take Triq Temi Zammit and stop near the Temples of Skorba. From there, we continue along Triq Temi Zammit and turn onto Triq il-Bennejja Rumani, which leads us to another street that takes us into the heart of Mġarr. Here we can see a number of cart ruts that have been unearthed recently, and from here, we head to the village of Mġarr. We pass by the Temples of Ħaġrat and end up in the village square next to the Church of the Rotunda of the Assumption of Mary.
We start from Żejtun square, walk behind the Church, and head towards the old Church known as San Girgor. We pass by the public garden and take the road that takes us in the direction of Delimara. We pass by the Church of Ħal Tmiem and continue towards the Temple of Juno in Tas-Silġ. From the temple, we descend to near the Church of Our Lady of Tas-Silġ and turn towards the fortress, which now houses the Island Sanctuary, a dog sanctuary. From there, we walk towards Triq Xrobb l-Għaġin and pass by the remains of the Battery of San Pawl. We walk to Misraħ Strejnu through to Triq id-Daħla ta ‘San Tumas. We pass by the Church of St Cajetan and the Mamo Tower. From there, we head to Marsascala, where we end up near il-Magħluq.