Unique Salinas at Xwejni
You might have been to Malta’s sister island Gozo many times, but have you actually dedicated time to visit and walk along the nearly 3 kilometres long salinas at Xwejni? I find this place just fascinating! You honestly feel like you are on another planet.
Me and two friends of mine decided to start our journey at the Xwejni Bay from the Il-Qolla I-Bajda. This Qolla (oddly shaped hillock) was formed out of varying types of light grey clay with a pale-yellow sandstone top. There are some unusual rock formations, caused by the sea eroding the limestone rock.
And now let’s get to the even more exciting part! The unusual, stunning and ‘picture perfect’ salinas. Salt production has a long history on the island of Gozo. The rock-cut salt pans protruding into the sea have their origin from the times of the Romans, who converted the unsorted pans into square constructions and furnished them with an irrigation system. In those days salt was a vital commodity at least for food preservation.
Just look at this panorama capturing some of the beautiful salinas in Xwejni, Gozo.
Salt production reached the peak around 1867 with an annual production of 4,000 tons of coarse salt over two harvests. Salt production on the Maltese Island is still carried out in a traditional manner with artisan knowledge that has been passed down through generations. Some families have been working on the same salinas for over 200 years.
It was estimated that there are about 40 salinas along the Maltese rocky coastline. Their total area is about 170,000 square metres, 29% is located in Gozo.
The village of Marsalforn in Gozo as a coastal stretch of salinas over 2 km long. The salinas at Xwejni have been tended to by Emanuel Cini for the past 40 years. Some of the original Xwejni salt pans are 160 years old and were dug by his wife’s grandfather. Mr. Cini is still working on the pans at the age of 82.
If you are interested in knowing more about the salt pans functionality, there is a great study related to this topic: Traditional Use of Shore Platforms: A Study of the Artisanal Management of Salinas on the Maltese Islands.
I also love the diversity of the coastline in the area. From absolutely smooth, nearly slippery surface to sharp sculptural looking edges. Nature is just amazing and it will never stop impressing me.
We also passed the Billinghurst Caven, that offers some breath-taking views, on the way to the Wied il-Ghasri where we have finished our 3-hour morning walk.
I hope you liked this photo blog and maybe learnt something new about the Xwejni salinas and salt production in general and here is the exact location so you know where you need to go. Happy exploring! :-)