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Spotlight on: Nadur, Gozo

Spotlight on: Nadur, Gozo

Nadur, often referred to as the village of the rising sun, is the most populated district on Malta’s sister island of Gozo and is located on the Eastern part of the island.

The name Nadur is derived from the Maltese verb of the same name, meaning to observe at length and keep guard. The word, in turn, is derived from the Arabic verb nazara, which means to dominate from a high spot, or from a ship’s mast. This appears on the village’s coat of arms, showing the sun rising from the blue sea. Other strategic headlands across the Maltese islands, the sites of former guard stations, are called in-Nadur.

As one might imagine, the Nadur played a crucial role in the defence of the island throughout the years. During the time of the Knights of St John, from 1530 to 1798, a watch tower was built by the Grand Master Nicolas Cotoner, called the Sopu tower. Another in Nadur, called the Ta’ Kenuna Tower was also built by the British during the 19th century, bringing the two islands together with a telegraph link.

Nadur was one of the first hamlets of the island to be raised to the status of a village. From the very beginning, it is believed that people resided in the San Blas area, which is now located in Nadur, well before St Paul shipwrecked in Malta. When people were less afraid to sleep outside the walls of the only fortress in Gozo, located in Rabat, they began settling on the hill of Nadur at ta’ Hida. As the population grew, people living on the eastern side of the island requested that the church authorities erect a parish near their homes. In the interim, a chapel in Qala served as a provisionary parish church, till the new one was built on the hil.

Bishop David Palmieri visited the area in 1687, listened to their requests and on April 28, 1688, a parish dedicated to St Peter and St Paul was built. The church was built within 15 years and the village of Ta’ Nadur soon became known as Nadur.

Nowadays, it is nestled between the villages of Qala, Għajnsielem and Xagħra. It lies along the spine of a hilltop around 152 metres above sea level. It has a population of more than 4,000 people, making it the second most populous town after Victoria. There is a significant number of farmers in the village, the majority of whom work their fields on a part-time basis. From the orchards of Nadur come most of the local fruits, including plums, peaches, apples, oranges and lemons, with the produce maintaining commercial contacts with Malta for over 3,000 years. This commerce is still ongoing and a great amount of Maltese citrus still originates from Nadur. A good number of others earn their living from the sea as fishermen or sailors.

SOME SPOTS IN NADUR WORTH VISITING

sopu tower

This tower, situated on the cliffs between San Blas and Daħlet Qorrot, was built in 1667 at the expense of Universita ta’ Gozo, during the reign of Grand Master Nicolas Cotoner. The guns of this tower opened fire on the French fleet in June 1798, a distinction no other tower shares! Internally, Sopu tower consists of a high barrel vault, with a floor resting on arches. A spiral staircase provides access to the various floors. The tower is open for visitors on the 6th and 20th of February, from 9:30am till 1pm. The areas around the tower have also been designated as a special conservation area, due to their high scenic and ecological value.

San Blas Bay

This idyllic red-sand bay, a little sister to the well-known Ramla Bay, is accessible from Nadur via a narrow road, which usually discourages people, making the Bay a quiet and peaceful place, especially during the winter months. The beach is rock-strewn, patches of red sand and is backed by beautiful, steep, terraced fields, with prickly pear trees. The perfect spot for snorkeling as well as diving, as the water is rather shallow and clear. In order to get there, Bus 303 heads to the bay hourly from Victoria, via Nadur. Stop at the Weraq bus stop and walk 600 m to the beach. San Blas really is one of the locals best kept secrets.

Tal-Mixta Cave

This stunning gem, located in Gozo, is overlooking Ramla Bay and has become an increasingly popular spot amongst both locals and tourists, for its breath-taking sunset views. The cave is said to be one of the last troglodytic abodes on the island, which refers to a prehistoric race of people that lived in caves and dens. Therefore, the cave is said to have been inhabited from early times, until the early 20th century. In order to get to the cave, it is recommended that you pass through the outskirts of the village of Nadur, rather than climbing up from Ramla Bay, which would be harder and more treacherous.

Basilica of St Peter and St Paul

 

Established and erected by the Bishop of Malta David Palmieri in 1688, the Basilica of St Peter and St Paul is a Roman Catholic minor basilica and parish church, located in the village of Nadur. The construction of the basilica is attributed to Maltese architect Giuseppe Bonici and is said to be one of the most beautiful churches in Gozo. The church was consecrated in 1867 and became Archipresbyteral in 1893. It became the third Collegiate of Gozo in 1894 and gained the Basilica title in 1967. The ceiling, which depicts episodes connected with St Peter and St Paul, was painted by Maltese artist Lazzaro Pisani.

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