Mqabba: More than just quarries and fireworks

Mqabba is most popular for the fireworks displays during the village festas, but a walk through the village with a digital camera in hand will unveil other beauties of this village.

The amount of street shrines one finds on the facades of buildings in this small village surrounded by limestone quarries is one of the surprises.  But there is much more than street shrines!

Our walk starts from Triq il-Belt Valletta.  Here a simple but well proportioned gateway struck ones eyes.  It seems that this gateway led to a very important building but from the street all one could see was a modest vernacular building.  At the corner of Triq il-Belt Valletta with Triq San Bazilju one finds a beautiful medieval arch with large vousoires on another vernacular building.  On the corner with Triq Langasa an impressive baroque street shrine of Saint Michael and then another of Our Lady of Sorrows.

The most precious architectural treasure in this village is the complex of two chapels adjacent to each other with a burial ground in front of them. The oldest chapel dedicated to Saint Basil is of the medieval period as can be seen from the pointed arch doorway on its facade, this was built in 1486.   The other chapel dedicated to Saint Michael was originally built in 1550 but rebuilt in 1669.  In front of these two chapels there is a burial area of plague victims.  The shrine at the end of this open space proves this.

In the area just behind the parish church there is another street shrine, this one portraying Saint Sebastian.  Two eye catching architectural features are an open stone balustraded balcony at the youth centre and an elegant and beautifully detailed baroque doorway.

In the main square, or Misrah il-Knisja, between the parish church and Saint Mary’s Band Club, there is the parish cross an important feature which is found in many of our villages.  Next to it a statue of Saint John the Baptist one of a series of four statues surrounding the parish church parvis.  The modest parish church with Tuscan order pilasters dominates the space of the main square.  The dome of this church was rebuilt following World War II.  The natural honey coloured limestone of the single well proportioned bell tower which the church has is like the last paint brush stroke made by the artist in depicting this village festa scene.

The first part of Triq il-Parrocca is a very narrow street axially built in front of the church’s main door.  The street was richly decorated for the village festa at the time of our walk.  At its end an open piazza with the police station, on the furthest side and Our Lady of Sorrows chapel with a deep parvis in front on the other side.   At the end of this narrow street there is another interesting baroque doorway.  Two other street shrines, one of Saint Mary and another of Saint Michael are also found within this open space.

The last chapel to be visited at Mqabba is the one dedicated to Saint Catherine.  This was built in 1761 by Ganni Schembri replacing an older chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Catherine.  Along the street named after the same saint, Triq Santa Katerina there is a very old, possibly the oldest noticed, street shrine of Our Lady.

HPIM0522It started getting darker.  The windmill found at the end of Triq Santa Katerina ends up this photographic collection for Mqabba.  A collection which proves our thoughts that if you look out for detail you will always find something even in small villages such as the one visited today.


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