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<September 2018>
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Places Of Interest

1. Mellieha Parish Church

The Mellieha parish church, dedicated to the birth of Our Lady, was built in the baroque style in the 19th century. Painstakingly built in traditional stone by the parishioners themselves, the church was eventually embellished with five bells brought over from Milan. It is particularly noted for the five paintings by the famous Maltese artist Giuseppe Calì.


2. Marian Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mellieha

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mellieha was once a small monastery traditionally attributed to the Augustinian Friars and dates back to the 16th century. The cavern was excavated by Mario de Vasi, a Sicilian wine merchant who contributed to the erection of the statue of Our Lady of the Grotto. According to local legend, the cave was visited by St Luke and St Paul when they were shipwrecked on the island. The great devotion to Our Lady can be seen by the impressive collection of votive prayers which line the walls. The Crypt of Our Lady of Mellieha was originally one of the many natural caves found in this area



The Madonna Statue is located in front of the Immaculate Conception Chapel at the end of Marfa Ridge road. It was built in 1870 with an accompanying chapel which, legend has it, was built by a fisherman in thanks for surviving when his boat capsized. The original chapel was at one point in danger of collapsing so a new one was built in 1961. This is an idyllic spot for those searching for some untouched countryside, and is often used for picnics.



This is the first of the watch towers built by Grandmaster de Redin during his reign and the third one to be built in Mellieha. Situated near Mgiebah Bay it faces the stretch of coast known as ‘L-Ahrax tal-Mellieha'. These towers had a specific purpose: to act as the communication link between Gozo and the headquarters of the knights in Valletta. The upper rooms of the tower sustained damage in an earthquake in 1856 and the cannon which used to be at the tower can now be found at Tas-Salib Garden in Mellieha.



The White Tower (also known as the Ahrax Tower) was built in the 17th century by Grand Master Martin de Redin on the Marfa Ridge which faces Gozo. This watch tower is one of 13 which were built in the same period by the knights as a system of defense around the Maltese coast. In 2009, it was passed on to the local council as part of the area's cultural heritage.



The house within a cave known as gharukaza, is derived from the two words ghar (Arabic:cave) and casa (Italian: house). It lies across the valley and is an example of an early troglodyte dwelling. Popular belief has it that a man still lives there despite the fact that he has no running water or electricity.



When tourists ask for a sandy beach, most locals point them towards Ghadira (Mellieha Bay). With its shallow waters it is perfect for families with small children, and the clarity of the sea has to be seen to be believed. Umbrellas and sun beds are available for hire, however you can also set up your own.



Paradise bay with its smaller sandy beach is also very popular. A fully equipped lido offers all amenities, including showers, sun beds and umbrellas and the venue is often used for private parties.



Armier bay now gives you the option of the public beach, or else the more exclusive private lido called Baia beach. Food and refreshments can be bought at both places, and sun beds and umbrellas are available for hire.



Slugs Bay is a small secluded beach located off the Marfa Ridge and takes its name from the sea slugs found there. It is accessible from a winding path which takes you down through the cliff boulders to the bay. The clarity of the sea at this bay and the abundance of marine life make it very popular with divers.



Just before you reach Mellieha, there is a turning on the right which leads you straight to the elegant Baroque style Selmun Palace. Built in the 18th century by the Knights in Malta it served as a summer residence. A hotel was built behind it in the 1960s (which has since closed down), and the Palace itself was until recently being used as a venue for social functions including weddings. Because of its high vantage point, one can enjoy excellent views of St Paul's Bay as well as the stretch of coastline which make up the tourist resorts of Bugibba and Qawra.



Looking for an isolated sandy beach far from the maddening crowd? Then look no further than Imgiebah Bay which is accessed from a narrow road opposite the Selmun Palace. Only a few people know of this location, or wish to take the trouble to climb down the cliff path, but if you do not mind "roughing it", it is worth the visit. No facilities are available so be sure to take your own refreshments. Swimming in rough seas is dangerous, so please avoid it. In calm seas, however, this is an excellent site for snorkeling.



Ahrax Point is located at the very tip of this area to the northeast and includes a dive site as well as a camp site. There are caves with inner tunnels which are entered through a narrow inlet, which varies from three to ten meters deep. Snorkelers have a choice between a reef full of marine life and the underwater entrance to a large cave. The maximum dive depth is 25 meters and it is recommended that the cave is visited with experienced divers.



These cliffs facing Mellieha Bay can only be reached by a rough dirt road. Because it is difficult to access, this area is mostly used by off-roaders and diving schools searching for unspoiled fauna. It is also popular with boat owners who like to drop anchor at the small bay just underneath the jagged cliffs.



The film starring Robin Williams may not have been a box office hit, but it left Malta with a great tourist attraction. Located halfway down the winding road which takes you to Mellieha Bay, this village was built at Anchor Bay specifically for the film. It is a child's dream come true of ramshackle lopsided huts and rickety bridges where they can play and have fun. From shows by animators dressed as Popeye and Olive Oil to a beach lido with an adult and children's pool to BBQs in the evening, Popeye village makes a great day or evening out.



Divers are particularly fond of this dive site which is accessed from a jetty. The interesting rock formations have allowed a wide variety of marine life to flourish and divers have been known to spot octopus, groupers, parrot fish, moray eels, scorpion fish, cuckoo wrasse and many other species. Experienced divers will find a cave with a domed roof, where they can surface and appreciate the natural beauty of the area which has been honed over time with the elements.



When the whole island was being bombed during World War II, the Mellieha shelters were among the largest, reaching the length of over 500 meters. Even more remarkably, they were dug out entirely by hand. These shelters contained anti-blast chambers, rooms large enough to accommodate whole families, as well as a maternity section and it is no wonder that they offered refuge to people from all over the island. There was even a room to protect national treasures. Restored to their original state, these shelters now serve as a tourist attraction.


18. The Red Tower

The Red Tower or Fort St. Agatha was one of the seven towers built by Grand Master Lascaris and is the largest in Mellieha. With its excellent views of Mellieha Bay it served as a crucial post to spot any vessel approaching by sea, It also served as a vital communication post between Gozo/Comino and Imdina and an alarm could immediately be raised if enemy ships were sighted.



This reserve was set up in 1978 to provide shelter and protection for the over 200 species of birds which migrate over the Maltese islands each year. The area includes wetland and salt marsh habitats and hunting is banned within 500 meters of the reserve. Located inland from Mellieha Bay the reserve covers an area of six hectares and is ideal for nature lovers who can opt for guided tours or simply go there to observe the wildlife.



Looking for something different in the way of entertainment? The Imperial Band Club performs throughout the year at various concerts and has also toured abroad with its team of 50 musicians. With a repertoire of typical Maltese band marches, folk music as well as international and classical and popular music, this band is extremely popular wherever it goes. Dating back to 1928, the band is particularly proud of its British connections, having performed at the coronation of King George VI in 1937 and the festivities for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Tourists are welcome to visit the club premises and experience the authentic feel of a typical Maltese kazin.



The last fort to be built in Malta by the British, and the most important for Mellieha, was Fort Campbell. The fort served to protect the approaches for Mellieha and St. Paul's Bays which were considered extremely vulnerable. Named after Governor Bonham-Carter, it was built in 1937 on il-Blata, at the end of the Selmun promontory. An interesting characteristic of the fort is that it was built as a sort of camouflage to resemble the traditional Maltese rubble walls and designed in an irregular pattern to imitate the adjoining terraced fields.



In the late 19th and early 20th centuries three Phoenician rock-cut tombs were discovered at Mellieħa The first one which consisted of catacombs was discovered on the hill near the parish church but its exact location was not mapped so it cannot be found again.
In 1912 another tomb was discovered but again its location was not indicated and it is believed to have been destroyed as only a report of the artefacts dating to the Phoenician period has been found. The third and last tomb is on the eastern cliffs facing the village, and was discovered in 1929, when workers accidentally stumbled upon a grave. Unfortunately, they unknowingly destroyed the tomb. Although a few artefacts were retrieved and the bones of an adult skeleton were found.



These military structures are to be found all over Malta, but the highest concentration of them, 27, is to be found in Mellieha. In 1938, the threat of Fascist Italy meant that the British had to intensify the island's defence. These concrete observation posts with dug out trenches and fitted with machine guns were camouflaged as rubble walls and later as rural buildings. They served as the first line of defence against the penetration of the islands.



In 1934, a megalithic structure was discovered by Flight Lt. R. Forbes Bentley Because of its proximity to the shoreline a lot of the remains had been washed away, however archeologists managed to hazard a guess that these used to be three circular enclosures which open on a rectangular space in the center of the building. Today what remains of the structure has been luckily preserved despite the fact that the area was taken over by residential development.



There were various types of fortifications built to protect Malta in the 18th century and coastal entrenchments were another example. Foot soldiers would take cover from the enemy in these mini bastions during an invasion. In this area, Mellieha Bay was defended by entrenchments at Qassisu and Comino was safeguarded through a similar entrenchment at Armier. Military history buffs will be pleased to learn that these entrenchments can still be seen today in Mellieha.



Coastal batteries were defensive gunbatteriespositioned to face out to sea to fire on enemy ships and amphibious craft. Wherever they went, the French built these type of defenses, and the same was true of Malta in the 18th century. With the arrival of Prince Philip de Vendome in 1715, whowas especially enthusiastic about coastal batteries, he took charge of building the ones in Mellieha, facing Comino.



Yet another form of fortification was the redoubts. Contrary to the batteries which defended the shoreline, the redoubts were built in the middle of the most vulnerable parts of the bay in order not to allow enemy troops to disembark in the first place. Another form of defense invented by the French, coastal redoubts were scattered throughout Mellieha because of its crucial location and its importance as a military strategy.


28. Mellieha Sports Club

Founded in 1947, this club was set up to promote and encourage sports. Football is the most popular and successful sport for this club which was promoted to the Premier league a few years ago. The club facilities include two football pitches, dressing rooms with showers, artificial lighting, wheel chair access to all areas, conference room, multi purpose hall with audio/visual equipment, bar & restaurant, indoor games, laundry facility on demand, masseur service on demand.



The "Ghaqda Filantropika Mellieha" has been around for 17 years, and has done a great deal to help Mellieha families who might find themselves in financial difficulties, particularly when they have children with special needs. Fundraising is organised through different activities to enable these children to become more independent and to integrate with society.



Life in every Maltese town and village revolves around the parish and Mellieha is no exception. The youth centre is used to teach religious doctrine to children aged six to eleven, as well as for meetings for couples about to get married, teenagers, parents, and elderly people. Summer school is held here too for the children of the village, offering them courses in drama, arts and crafts, and creativity.



Ghajn Tuffieha De Redin Tower was probably the first coastal tower to be built at Mellieha during the Knights rule. During the Middle Ages il-Mahras maintained a watch-post in Ghajn Tuffieha, probably in the same site were the tower was built. It was built in 1637 and its plan is similar to Lippija Tower. Ghajn Tuffieha Tower has a longish shape and the ground floor room is larger than the second floor one. It was armed with ½-pdr cannon and was manned by four men, a captain and three men, who were paid by the University of Imdina.



Eskalar Redoubt is another redoubt which was built in the village of Mellieha. This redoubt was built between Tal-Bir Redoubt and Vendome Battery, to guard the approaches to L-Ahrax bayIt had, like the other redoubts, a pentagonal platform, surrounded with a low parapet and in the middle of the rear there was a blockhouse. It was built during 1715-16 and cost some scudi. There is no indication that Barriera Redoubt had any cannons stationed in it.1 Spiteri mentions that the redoubt still exists but during my research I did not find any evidence of its existence today.


Ref. Stephen Spiteri. Fortresses of the Cross: Hospitaller Military Architecture (1136-1798),



The Louvier entrenchment is the most interesting entrenchment built at Mellieha. It includes also embrasure for four cannons. A large part of the entrenchment is in a good state and is one of the best preserved in the whole Islands. However, it has to be conserved too.


Louvier entrenchment is found at Armier. This entrenchment was built in the early 1760s under the supervision of Bailli de Tigne. Louvier entrenchment also formed part of the ambitious plan of Bourlamaque of surrounding the Maltese islands with entrenchments. Only a small fraction of the proposed entrenchments to be built in Mellieha on the coast facing Comino were actually built, that is in the areas from Cirkewwa to the White Tower



These enchantments are very hard to find. They lay on the highlands of Ghajn Tuffieha. These entrenchments were built in the early 18 th century and consist of two sets of entrenchments. They were built on high grounds overlooking the sandy beach. They are separated by a small valley. Qala tal-Misquqa entrenchments were built from rubble wall and that is why it is difficult to recognize them. As I said this entrenchment consists of two sets. The one on the left is nearly a straight line while the one on the right has a number of bastions



At Ta' Msid, in Marfa, there was a stone circle, which unfortunately, in recent times were buried under a large amount of rubble.


Ta' Msid remains were discovered by the Curator of the Archaeological Museum.;, Temi Zammit with the help of Mr. C. Rizzo in 1916. While they were reporting they found a stone circle that probably formed part of a larger structure. Nine megalithic stones formed a round chamber with a diameter of 3.66 metres. In this chamber a number of flint and pottery shreds were found, which were dated to the Neolithic Period. Zammit in his report stated that this structure was in a bad state of repair and emphasized also on the worthiness of being cleared and surveyed. 1


These remains were never surveyed and unfortunately, in 1993 they were buried under a large amount of rubble. Therefore, no excavation could be carried out because probably they were destroyed forever



In Latnija, in the west of Cirkewwa, a number of important discoveries were made about some 20 years ago. The investigation was conducted by the Italian archaeologist Anati.


Here, a number of rock cut stairs were found that leads you to the sea, surrounded by a wall, which probably dates back to Roman Times. The entrance is closed by an iron gate. A number of pottery shreds were found and these are dated to Late Roman or Byzantine Period.


In the west of the previous site exactly near the sea a number of caves about 25 meters high were found. The archaeologists stated that it was inhabited in ancient and also in recent times. There are a number of rock cuttings in the caves dating back to the Roman Period and probably also in later times



The Bronze Age defensive walls in Manikata are probably the only prehistoric fortifications in Mellieħa. Apart from the defensive walls there a number of archaeological remains


In the north-east of the Manikata church there is a medium barren land called Tal-Qargħa. This land contains a number of archaeological remains mainly cart-ruts, old quarry and walls built of large stones. In the land there is a girna and in the west of the structure there is a wall some 8 metres long and in it there are five large stones. Parallel to this wall there is another wall, which has six large stones. On top of the hill there is another wall and it there are three large stones, the largest one is 0.75m length and 0.6m breath. Apart from this wall there are another two built from large stones.


During their archaeological mission in Malta in mid 1980s the Italian archaeologists Fradkin and Anati excavated were in Malta found a large number of pottery shreds of different periods both prehistoric and historic. The oldest pottery shreds goes back to the Bronze Age Period.


It seems that during the Bronze Age period in this area there was a prehistoric village and it was defended by several walls against their enemies. The idea of building a village on a hill and surround it by a defensive wall is a typical characteristic of the Bronze Age Period, Borġ in-Nadur. This site has evidence of hut foundations and has the longest defensive wall of the Bronze Age Period. Borġ in-Nadur wall is the best preserved prehistoric fortification in Malta.


Ref; Ernest Vella., ‘Il-Wirt Arkeoloġiku tal-Qedem', Joe Catania (ed), Il-Mellieħa: Mal-Milja taż-Żmien, Kunsill Lokali Mellieha, Malta, 2002



At Tat-Tomna there was another stone circle, probably they were the foundations of a small hut. Today, these remains does not exist anymore.


The Stone Circle at tat-Tomna, which was near the reservoir, was found by Flt. Lt. R. Forbes-Bentley in 1930. 1 The structure was measured and photographed by him. The Stone Circle was made of small stones and in his report he stated that the remains were without doubt Prehistoric. Bentley continued that he did not find potsherds but if someone dug in the site he would find some shreds.2 He observed that there were two oval structures near each other. Nobody knows if they were the foundations of a hut or something else. Unfortunately, these remains does not exist anymore, probably because of the building of the reservoir or were covered with rubble.



The Hewwiexa Late Roman tombs were excavated by the Niexxiegha Kulturali under the supervision of archaeologist Ernest Vella from 1996 to 1999. Although the tombs are Roman, it seems that a Punic community already existed in this area.


The Hewwiexa Late Roman tombs consists of three rock cut-tombs, a rock-cut quarry (found commonly in Maltese fields) and curt-ruts that leads to the tombs. It is a probability that the digging of this small quarry destroyed part of the tombs complex. All the three tombs had a small rock that served as a cushion for the head of the dead person. The three tombs were made to bury two persons. Unfortunately, one of them has only the floor. The others have a rectangular entrance hatch in the façade, and on them there are a number of excavated small shelves on the façade rock, where probably a number of clay lamps were put there.


During the first part of the excavation all the rubble and soil was elevated. During the excavation of the quarry a second tomb was found, but unfortunately only the floor exists. Between this tomb and the first tomb there is a large pit, where probably there were other tombs. Later a third tomb was found under a steep slope made up of rubble and soil. Under the soil and rubble were found a number of pottery shreds of different periods. The oldest ones were dated to the Punic Period.


Ref: Ernest Vella., "Il-Wirt arkeologiku tal-qedem", Joseph Catania (ed), Il-Mellieha:


Mal-milja taz-zmien, Mellieha Local Council, Malta, 2002,



At Ghajn Zejtuna, near the coast, there are the remains of a megalithic temple. Today only part of this structure remains.

The discovery of this megalithic structure goes back to1934, when Flight Lt. R. Forbes Bentley reported to the Museums Department the discovery of the ruins of a minor megalithic building at Ghajn Zejtuna. According to the archaeological report of that period, the ruins that were found were hardly sufficient to give them the outline of the original plan. In their report they say that the megaliths were inclined so as to form three circular enclosures which open on a rectangular space in the centre of the building. They reported that its main entrance was probably from the East. The structure comprised a circular enclosure, measured about 3.30 metres from its entrance to the back wall, and 1.50 metres in width. At that time the remains of an outer wall were still recognizable.


The report continues that the largest standing megalith measured some 1.40 metres in height, 1.60 metres in length and 0.70 cm in thickness. On the other hand, the rest of the stones were a couple of inches from the soil. A number of Stone Age potsherds and fragments of chirt were recovered from among the rubble. Unfortunately, as these remains were found very close to the shore they could be reached by the sea, so very little soil was left round the megaliths.



First tomb
The Nahlija rock-cut tomb was discovered on 20 July 1932, when workmen under the supervision of Mr. A. L. Bell Supt. Civil Engineer H. M's Dockyard, were clearing a site in the rifle ranges at Ghajn Tuffieha. They discovered it when they came across a shaft that led to a tomb which was still sealed by a stone slab. A workman shifted the slab and so, the tomb's furniture had to be taken to a safer place. The Museum's Department was informed and when the archaeologists arrived on the scene they found some of the items were already removed.


The tomb consisted of a rectangular shaft, 8 ft. deep, 7 ft. long, and 4 ft. wide, and was on an East West direction. The chamber was cut at the bottom of the Western wall of the shaft. When the archaeologists arrived, the sealing slab was still standing close to the entrance. It measured 5 ft high, 2 ft. 10 inches wide with a thickness of 8 inches, and was meant to accurately fit the entrance. The tomb was cut in the globigerina limestone.


The level floor of the chamber was covered with about 1 ft. of sandy silt and the chamber itself was roughly rectangular in shape with a flat ceiling. It measured 6 ft. 6 inch in length, 5 ft. 4 inch in breath at the entrance and about 6 ft at the back end. The height of the chamber was about 5 ft. A trench starting at about 1 ft. from the entrance was cut in the floor for the whole length of the chamber parallel to the sides, with a width of 1 ft. 6 inch and a depth of one ft.


Second tomb
In the same day and year of the above mentioned, another rock-cut tomb was discovered some 3 yards from the previous mentioned tomb. Unfortunately, the tomb was not preserved as the previous one and it was found that to have been rifled in previous years. Only fragments of human bones and of pottery were discovered. The shaft was 8 ft. 6 in. wide and 8 ft deep. When the tomb was discovered the sealing slab was still in place, but sufficiently displaced to allow a man to move in and out freely.


The floor of the chamber was found covered with stones rolled in after cleaning the shaft. The chamber itself of which the main axis had a East-West direction was rectangular, 9 ft. in length, 5 ft in width and 4 ft. 6 inch in height. No trench was cut in the floor. No sign of cremation was found. The tomb had to be destroyed like the above mentioned one.


Ref: Government of Malta, ‘Archaeological Section', Museum Annual Report 1932-33



The Hewwiexa Late Roman tombs were excavated by the Niexxiegha Kulturali under the supervision of archaeologist Ernest Vella from 1996 to 1999. Although the tombs are Roman, it seems that a Punic community already existed in this area.


The Hewwiexa Late Roman tombs consists of three rock cut-tombs, a rock-cut quarry (found commonly in Maltese fields) and curt-ruts that leads to the tombs. It is a probability that the digging of this small quarry destroyed part of the tombs complex. All the three tombs had a small rock that served as a cushion for the head of the dead person. The three tombs were made to bury two persons. Unfortunately, one of them has only the floor. The others have a rectangular entrance hatch in the façade, and on them there are a number of excavated small shelves on the façade rock, where probably a number of clay lamps were put there. Interesting site



In Mizieb there was a rock-cut tomb which was found by serendipity by workmen, when they were digging to lay a cable. It seems that this tomb was filled with rubble and thus unable to be seen.


This rock-cut tomb was found on 16 November 1938, when a number of workmen went to the Mellieha police with an antique jar. The police immediately reported the Museums Department about this case. When the archaeologists examined the site they revealed that a burial chamber was cut through at a depth of 1 foot 6 inches below the surface of the road. It is a probability that a long time ago the roof of the tomb had fallen and the chamber was filled with stones and soil. The debris damaged and disturbed the contents of the tomb


Apart from the corpses, some small funerary pottery shreds were found, but, unfortunately the type of vases could not be determined with certainty. The jar that was found by the workmen is an amphorae, 2 feet high, with a cylindrical body and a rounded lower extremity, short necked and armed with two lateral and vertical handles attached to the upper part of the body. The only other object that was recovered was a bowl with an everted rim, 3¾inches in diameter


Ref Government of Malta, ‘Archaeological Section', Museum Annual Report 1938-39



Very little is known about this Archaeological Sites - Il-Mizieb Neolithic Remains it is hard to find but worth the search. Still parts of it are in good condition and you can see the circular foundations



Found South facing and evidently could have been used as far back as the as Stone Age. Through the ages they were used by the Arabs and also during the Second World War as shelters



Hen the old chapel of St. Joseph was found to be small for the community of Manikata, at the beginning it was decided to enlarge the church, but later it was found to be impractical and so, it was decided to build a new and larger church.


In 1961, it was decided to build a new and larger church, the rector Fr. Manwel Grima approached architect Edwin England Sant Fournier to prepare a design for the new church. However, shortly afterwards Edwin handed over the job to his son Richard England. Before the design on the new church could be accepted by the people of Manikata, there was a lengthy discussion and explanation over the subject. So eventually the villagers got what they wanted, but in a very different form to what they originally expected.


The building of the new church of Manikata faced a numerous problems. Firstly there was the very restrictive budget of just £m20,000 to execute the project; this was made possible by organising various fund-raising activities locally and through donations. Secondly there was the untimely death, in 1971 of Fr Grima.


Ref: Charles Knevitt, Manikata: The making of a Church



Is a statue built by sailors saved from angry seas and is overlooking the bay. It was erected and commissioned in the early 19 century by an unknown sculpture



Beautiful site and seas. Dangerous to manoeuvre down to the beach side but worth a look or for a picnic



These Archaeological Sites are located on the east side of the beneath the city. They can be seen from the road leading to Anchor Bay or Armier Bay. Through the ages they were used by the Arabs and also during the Second World War as shelters.



Westreme Battery is unique in its design. There are no similar designs in the village of Mellieha. Although it has a semi-circular gun battery, like the others, only a quarter of it has a parapet with embrasures for the artillery. It has also a very large blockhouse, compared to other blockhouse in other batteries. Today only the blockhouse survives which was restored recently by the Mellieha Local Council.


Westreme Battery was probably financed by a knight bearing that name. There is no reference that indicates when the construction on this battery began.1 As had been mentioned earlier, the battery consists of a semi-circular gun platform, but the parapet only cover a quarter of it. The parapet had five embrasures for the artillery directing towards the mouth of Mellieha Bay. The rear of the battery is protected by a wall and in the middle of it there was a large blockhouse. The rear walls were fitted with musketry loopholes which acted as a redan to defend that area of the battery.


Ref; Charles Debono B.A.(Hons) History

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