A Brief History
Perched on a series of hills to the north-west of Malta lies the small town of Mellieħa. It’s elevated maritime position, being surrounded on three sides by the Blue Mediterranean Sea, gives it magnificent views all around. It is about 150 metres above sea level and it overlooks the beautiful sandy beach of Mellieħa Bay.
Today, Mellieħa has a community of about 9000 inhabitants and comprises new housing estates such as Il-Qortin, Santa Maria Estate, Ta’ Pennellu, Mellieħa Heights, Ta’ Masrija and Tal-Ibraġ. It also incorporates the small villages of Selmun and Manikata.
When, around 8000BC, the first inhabitants of Malta came over from Sicily, they must surely have been attracted to this place which is characterised by a series of hills and valleys which abound in large caves, sheltered areas, fertile soil and natural spring water. So Mellieħa must have been a great centre for troglodytic habitations, as period shards of pottery abundantly indicate.
Later still, as we find in several places around Mellieħa, as at ‘Ta Msid’ in Aħrax, Armier, Għajn Żejtuna, Imġiebaħ and other areas, we find instances of megalithic remains while Punic-Roman and Palaeo-Christian tombs are also still visible near San Niklaw, Ħawwiexa and Selmun.
The enigmatic cart ruts which are scattered in many places in Malta are also present in several garigue areas around Mellieħa. Many consist of two narrow parallel gutters cut into the rock face. Sometimes they intersect and those near Paradise Bay lead to the cliff’s edge and disappear somewhere under the sea.
The legendary nymph Calypso also features in the Mellieħa spectrum with a cave complex overlooking Ġnien Ingraw Valley attributed to her as her abode while entertaining Ulysses. Some historians maintain that the description given by Homer tallies exactly with this place.