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Photographer's Note

The village of Ghajnsielem is situated in the small island of Gozo, Malta's sister-island. Malta is situated in the centre of the Mediterranean - 93 km south of Italy and 290 km north of North Africa. Gozo lies about 5 km in the North West of Malta and the distance between Ċirkewwa in Malta and Mgarr Harbour in Gozo, involves a 25 minute ferry crossing.

Ghajnsielem has a population of around 3,000 and is the first Gozitan village that will greet you as soon as you leave Mgarr Harbour towards the Gozitan heartland. As soon as you enter Mgarr Harbour, while still aboard the ferry, you could not help but notice the welcoming landmarks of the harbour village of Ghajnsielem. Lourdes Chapel with its sharp steeple and underlying niche of Our Lady of Lourdes, Fort Chambray on the left-hand side dominating the high grounds and, on the distant background, the towering belfry of Ghajnsielem's Parish Church. The people of Ghajnsielem are referred to as il-Ghajnsilmizi.

The name of the village is a composite of 'Ghajn' (spring of) and 'Is-sliem' (peace). This name probably refers to a natural spring which used to supply water, and subsequently modified and reconstructed by Grand Master Raymond Perellos in 1700 when he built an arcade containing nine washing basins bestowed its name to the village.

Ghajnsielem became a parish by a decree issued by Pope Pius IX on 1st April 1855. The first parish priest of the locality was Rev Anton Cauchi who served until 1864. By the turn of the century, the population of the village started to increase and the old parish church was deemed too small for the needs of a growing village. The idea to built a larger temple was made by Parish Priest Dun Frangisk Mizzi (1909 - 1948) who noted all this.

Gozo Island

The Maltese archipelago lies at the centre of the Mediterranean, Malta being 93km south of Sicily and 288km north of Africa. The archipelago consists of three islands: Malta, Gozo & Comino with a total population of 400,000 inhabitants over an area of 316sq km and a coastline of 196.8km (not including 56.01 km for the island of Gozo). The relationship between the Islanders and the various nationalities that occupied Malta over the centuries has created a marriage of styles and traditions, giving the Islands a fascinating eclectic culture.

GOZO, or GHAWDEX [Awdesch] as it is locally known, lies 20 minutes away by ferry from Malta. Measuring about one third the size of Malta it has a character quite distinct from Malta, it is more a fishing and farming community and the countryside is greener and more spectacular. Controls over building developments keep Gozo unspoilt. Flat-topped hills and intensely cultivated fields characterize the landscape whilst the coast has rugged cliffs, steep valleys and beautiful inlets. Baroque churches and old stone farmhouses dot the countryside. (Source: Ghajnsielem.com & Gozo.com )

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Additional Photos by George Rumpler (Budapestman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 8900 W: 3 N: 20435] (82620)
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