Il-Maqluba – The Maltese Sinkhole
People often ask me, how do I plan my trips… How do I decide where to go or how do I come across the places I write about… Well it depends. It’s generally a combination of different factors. I read though travel guides, I explore GoogleMaps, I talk to people who recommend places to visit and I get lost very often. I plan to go somewhere and I end up somewhere totally different. That’s how I mostly discover new places. 🙂
If I remember correctly this time I was checking the satellite images on GoogleMaps and saw this weird looking dark green place on the map. I did my research and found out that it’s a natural sinkhole and it’s accessible to the public, so here I am.
Il-Maqluba is found in the village of Qrendi, situated in the southwest of Malta with a population of about 2,500 inhabitants. One of the most interesting environmental and historic spots in the area is by far Misraħ il-Maqluba. In this place one can find the St Matthew’s Chapel, which is situated on the top of the Maqluba sinkhole.
The square in front of the chapel is known as Misrah San Matthew, literally translated as St. Matthew’s Square. The square is surrounded by a small number of very old carob trees and number of benches, where you can sit, rest your feet and enjoy the atmosphere of the place.
To view this natural sinkhole, walk pass St Matthew’s chapel and you will see a stairway on the left-hand side when facing the chapel. There are three informative boards to let you know a bit more about the history and the legend of tal-Maqluba, however the text is quite difficult to read as the boards are worn off due to their exposure to the elements.
Just in case you were wondering if Maqluba means anything, it does actually. In English it stands for ‘upside down’. According to the information on the boards, tal-Maqluba was formed in November 1343 when Malta experienced one of the most severe winter storms. The natural depression was formed from the collapse of the underlying limestone layer.
There is also a legend related to the creation of Maqluba. The legend says that there was a hamlet of people living in the area, that weren’t living an exemplary life. God tried to warn them through a good woman living in the area, but they didn’t listen. Therefore God decided that the land would ‘swallow’ the hamlet sparing no one but the good woman. And that’s how Maqluba was created according to the legend.
I’m now at the ‘upper’ Maqluba, enjoying the view of the doline, but there is also a ‘lower’ Maqluba which is nowadays one of the 34 Special Areas of Conservation under the Natura 2000 EU network. The sinkhole serves as a natural reservoir with a depth of approximately 15 meters, covering the area of about 6000 square meters.
This site also hosts other rare plants and fungi as well as endemic species, that is species which can only be found in the Maltese Islands, such as the Maltese Salt Tree.
This is something pretty unique to see in Malta. If you are a nature lover or you would like to go somewhere completely different compare to other places recommended by most tourist guides, try this one. 🙂
On your way back stop at the ‘middle’ railing. If you look over it you will see that there are actually steps down. It’s quite steep so I decided to stay here, but my friends proceeded to explore the ‘lower’ Maqluba.
Here is my friend Rossella going down the steps. It might look easy but the steps are very slippery and uneven, so please proceed with extra caution.
Looking at these pictures I’m sorry I’ve missed the opportunity to go down, but for Olly’s safety I decided not to. Plus there is always another time. Maybe I’ll return again after 3 year like I did now (2017 & 2020).
Only two friends proceeded to the very bottom of Maqluba. The vegetation took over this sinkhole and there isn’t really a way to ‘walk around’. I think it’s the nature’s way to protect itself from intruders.
Below you can find a map with the exact location of this unique Maltese sinkhole. There was no problem with parking. The area is very quiet.
I hope you like this post. Now it’s your time to visit this alternative place. 🙂