Buskett Gardens & Madonna tal-Girgenti
Are you still wondering if you should visit Malta at this time of the year, I tell you now, you definitely should! I'm absolutely loving the springtime in Malta. And even though this island doesn't have that many forests like I'm used to from the Czech Republic, you can still find really nice woods, just like the Buskett Gardens. With its size of 30 ha it's arguably the largest woodland on the island. The gardens are situated in between Siggiewi and Rabat in the south-east part of the island. About 30 mins drive from Sliema (on Saturday morning, when there was no traffic).
And because spring is by far the best time to enjoy the Maltese nature and take in all the blooming beauty, I would like to take you on a trip around the Buskett Gardens. About 5 km long walk, with a small detour at the end! :)
I arrived at the Buskett Gardens at 10am in the morning on Saturday and considering it was Easter, there were hardly any people. Well at that time of the day, so if you hoping for a quiet walk, come early. :) It was a bit windy so I started of with a light fleece jacket, but that didn't last very long. At the beginning I had couple of stops, just sitting down and enjoying the beautiful blooming flowers, and the calming greenery in general. There are also benches around the walkways, as well as picnic areas, where you can chill or have your lunch. I opted for a stone wall instead.
If someone says again that Malta doesn't have any greenery, I will show them this picture and tell them come over in spring! How beautiful is this view?! Of course there are hardly any green areas in summer, as the temperatures are sky high and we don't see rain for like three months, but then again either you want beautiful and sunny weather all the time so you get a nice suntan or you want a green countryside...
If I'm not mistaken, the town in the distance would be Siggiewi with its church of St Nicholas sticking out. Below you can spot the Verdala Palace on the horizon, which is the official summer residence of the President of Malta. The palace was built in 1588 by Grand Master Hughes de Verdalle as a summer residence and a hunting lodge. Verdala Palace is closed to public, but I believe there are occasionally special events taking place, when you can visit the president's residence.
I didn't take any particular route around the Buskett Gardens, just exploring. I took couple of 'wrong' turns and I ended up in a dead end or a private property, so had to turn back. I passed by couple of farm houses, which are Farmhouses tal-Baghal and tal-Bosk and they are open for the public during the weekends between 10:00 and 12:00 if you would like to have a look inside.
When I passed the above farmhouse I saw a small path on the right, so I followed it up and ended up next to another perfectly restored farmhouse below. Shame I couldn't check it out from the inside. :( Next time hopefully.
Following up the path and passing this massive tree I ended up at the below gate. That's when I realized that there are number of entrances to the garden. You can park your car approx. 100 meters away next to something that looked like an old military base. Right here.
Once I walked on the horizon I got this stunning with view! Can you spot the Laferla Cross on top of the hill? During the Easter weekend, couple of night pilgrimages were organised at this religious landmark. But this is not why I ended up here. The aim of this walk, apart from visiting the Buskett Gardens was also to see the shrine of Madonna tal-Girgenti. It's like an open church and there are still regular prayers meetings on every first and third Sunday of each month.
On the left you can see the statue of Our Lady of Girgenti, which was erected by Guza Mifsud in 1986. The statue in the middle and in the picture below, is the youngest from the three, and is representing the suffering Christ. It was created by Mr Andrew Bugeja and paid for by Lord and Lady of Kenfig from Wales. The smaller statue on the right represents St Michael, who Guza Mifsud claimed to have a vision of.
The shrine of Madonna tal-Girgenti is definitely a great place of interest. You don't come across these sites every day. It was worth the extra 1km walk from the Buskett Gardens. Plus I was again the only one there, which was a bit weird, but pleasant at the same time. There is undeniably a strong holy spirit.
On the Google Maps below you can see the exact location of the Buskett Gardens and the Madonna tal-Girgenti. I hope you enjoyed this little adventure and will add it to your calendar for the upcoming weeks to enjoy the beautiful Maltese spring until it lasts.