Mellieha Malta - Mediterranean Holiday Destinations

About 3 miles northwest of St Paul's Bay perched picturesquely upon a ridgeline is the town of Mellieha. Mellieha was never heavily populated to the extent of Valletta or St Julian's until the Knights included it in their fortification of the north and erected a few protective towers. Its geography has kept the town relatively isolated and its isolation has also spared it the onslaught of tourist development that engulfed much of the rest of the island. The original Maltese way of life has survived here, and the people of Mellieha retain their rural roots through fishing and hunting.

The last few decades has seen an increase in the number of tourists visiting the town and a string of hotels and apartment blocks now line the cliffs on the outskirts of town. The town is centred around one main street, Triq Gorg Borg Olivier, which runs north to south along a gorge carved in the limestone ridge. West of the main drag is the old part of town, the newer apartments and tourist provisions lie to the east. There are a number of religiously orientated points of interest in Mellieha. The Parish Church Complex, a collection of medieval chapels partly cut into the hillside is a pretty little place with a real sense of history. The Grotto of Our Lady just off the main street is worth a visit. An ivy-clad passageway leads to the Grotto where, just like at Lourdes, visitors have claimed to see a vision of Our Lady. The numbers who believe in the miraculous power of the water that flows through the Grotto is reflected in the flicker of many burning candles.

Just 15 minutes walk down a steep hill leads to Mellieha Bay, the biggest stretch of sand on the island. The 750m bay predictably draws families and beach-lovers from all over Malta. The warm, shallow sea gets almost as crowded as the beach so you may find yourself battling with canoes and inflatable bananas for a drop of water to splash in. The lifeguards (the only ones anywhere in Malta) have a tough job keeping an eye on everyone; luckily, it's very safe as a huge sandbank leaves the water little more than knee deep for 100m out to sea.

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