Qala, Malta

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Sudika Qala church.jpg
Qala church
Flag of Qala.svg
MLT Qala COA.gif
Locator map Qala in Malta.svg
Coordinates: 36°2′7″N14°18′37″E / 36.03528°N 14.31028°E / 36.03528; 14.31028 Coordinates: 36°2′7″N14°18′37″E / 36.03528°N 14.31028°E / 36.03528; 14.31028
Country Flag of Malta.svg  Malta
Region Flag of Gozo.svg Gozo Region
District Gozo and Comino District
Borders Għajnsielem, Nadur
   Mayor Paul Buttigieg (PL)
  Total5.9 km2 (2.3 sq mi)
 (September 2019)
  Density330/km2 (850/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Qali (m), Qalija (f), Qalin (pl)
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Dialing code 356
ISO 3166 code MT-42
Patron saint St. Joseph
Day of festa First Sunday of August
Website Official website

Qala (Maltese : Il-Qala) is a village on the island of Gozo, Malta, with a population of 1,929 as of September 2019. [1] Nearby is Ħondoq ir-Rummien, a coastline with salt pans and caves popular with snorkellers and divers.



The name Qala derives from Siculo-Arabic. [2]

About the town

Qala is first referred to in a fifteenth-century portolan preserved at the Vatican Library. It has taken its name from the qala ('port') of Ħondoq ir-Rummien. It is the easternmost village of Gozo and has been inhabited since early times. The development of the present settlement began in the second half of the seventeenth century. It is a pleasant and rural place with many natural and historic attractions.

Though Qala is the farthest village from Gozo's capital, Victoria, it is the closest to the rest of the Maltese archipelago, and the rocky hillsides of Qala enjoy an unobstructed view of the islands of Malta and Comino. The aforementioned islands can be clearly seen from Qala Belvedere and from the small courtyard in front of the church known as Il-Madonna tal-Blat (Our Lady of the Rocks). This church faces Comino and legend has it that it was built so that the people of that island could follow Holy Mass from across the straits when rough weather precluded a priest from crossing there.

Except for a few sheltered inlets, like the popular Ħondoq ir-Rummien, Qala's coastline is largely rugged. Among the many sea caves found along the coast is Għar Minka, which is accessible only by boat. [3]

Qala is located at the easternmost point of Gozo, and is the village furthest from the capital Victoria. Its name is both Arabic and Maltese for sheltered haven or bay, and this is reflected in its coat of arms – a Gozo boat sailing on rough seas. The village parish church is dedicated to Saint Joseph, and was built by Dun Guzepp Diacono, between 1882 and 1889. Its style is baroque as in many other churches on the island. Qala became a parish on 3 February 1872, and until 1889 the parish church was that of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady. The foundation stone of the parish of Saint Joseph was laid on 19 March 1882 and the church consecrated on 8 May 1904.

Sites of historical interest in and around Qala include the salt pans, a well-preserved windmill and prehistoric remains. One can find examples of cart ruts, (parallel tracks cut into the rock) which extend over 180 metres (590 ft) and are some of the longest on Gozo.

Places of interest

St. Joseph Parish Church

The village parish church is dedicated to St Joseph. It was built by the same architect-priest who built the church of Għasri, Dun Guzepp Diacono, between 1882 and 1889, when he was serving as parish priest of Qala. It is built in baroque, for many churches on the island, whether built in the seventeenth or in the latter half of the twentieth century, were constructed in this style.

Qala became a parish on 3 February 1872, the first to be established after the establishment of the Diocese of Gozo. Until 1889, the seat of the parish church was the church of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady. The foundation stone of the parish of Saint Joseph was laid on 19 March 1882 and the church was consecrated on 8 May 1904. The parish became Archi-presbyteral on 21 April 1965. The village feast to St. Joseph is celebrated yearly in early August.

Immaculate Conception Chapel

This Chapel, which is situated in Qala on the way to Ħondoq ir-Rummien, is one of the earliest Marian shrines on the island and dates back to 1575. It is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. The feast is celebrated on 8 December and the statue was sculptured in Marseilles by Gallard et Fils in 1887.

In the early 1650s, the chapel was enlarged and on 28 April 1688, it became the parish church of the eastern part of Gozo, Qala, Nadur and Għajnsielem and remained so for about 12 years. It served again as a parish church of Qala from February 1872 to February 1889. It was consecrated on 21 May 1950.

Between 1982 and 1988 the inside was gilded and refurbished. The main attraction is the altarpiece, attributed to Federico Barocci di Urbino. It shows God extending his special protection to the Immaculate Conception. The Virgin Mary was crowned on 1 August 1954.

St. Anthony's Battery

St. Anthony's Battery, also known as Ras il-Qala (Qala Point) Battery, was built between 1731 and 1732. Its design is attributed to Charles François de Mondion. It was intended to guard the mouth of the channel between Gozo and Comino.

The work was originally designed with a semi-circular gun platform and two blockhouses at the rear; however, it was eventually built with a semi-hexagonal front. Consequently, the landward defenses incorporated a free-standing red-an trace with thick walls and numerous musketry loopholes, which were shielded by two flanking traverses. The land front itself was protected by a shallow ditch. A solid blockhouse with battered walls occupied the center of the enclosure. In 1770, St. Anthony's Battery had an armament of three 8-pounder guns with 427 rounds of roundshot and 75 rounds of grapeshot; and eight 6-pounder guns with 127 rounds of roundshot and 45 rounds of grapeshot.

Although most of the landward part of St. Anthony's Battery was in a precarious state of neglect with part of the wall and the entire blockhouse in complete ruins, Din l-Art Ħelwa (a non-profit making organisation) are at present carrying out renovation and reconstruction works on the Block house and the entrance. [4]

Ħondoq ir-Rummien

Ħondoq ir-Rummien bay can be accessed from the village of Qala and lies opposite to the isle of Comino. The small sandy beach and its crystalline water makes Ħondoq Bay very popular amongst the local population especially in summer.

Apart from an ideal swimming zone, the bay is also renowned for diving, especially for beginners. During summer evenings a number of local families stay late in Ħondoq to relax by their smoking barbecues enjoying the cool summer breeze.

Voluntary Groups in Qala

Radju Lehen il-Qala

Radio Lehen il-Qala was set up way back in 1996. It was the 25th of July of that year when for the first time a local voice was heard on our radio sets – a voice that echoed into our homes and is still echoing today in a wider and stronger dimension.

Canon Karm Refalo, who was the archpriest of Qala at that time, took the initiative to embark on this new project of setting up a community radio station. Helped along by a group of young people, full of enthusiasm and dynamic energy, they succeeded in transmitting the first schedule of programs for the occasion of the feast of St. Joseph, patron saint of Qala. It was a totally new idea for Qala and even for Gozo, but which took root and is now spread all over the Maltese islands in a considerable number of community radio stations. One may ask, was it opportune that such a radio station should be set up? The answer is definitely yes. Otherwise, how could the station be still functioning fifteen years after it started? The station serves many purposes. Firstly, it is a valuable means of transmission. Besides, it forms a link with Maltese emigrants scattered in so many countries overseas; it is a means for spiritual and social teaching. In addition, it is also a means of support and consolation to so many lonely old or sick people. Listening to a voice coming from a village in the east of Gozo and following all that is happening in the world beyond their rooms, surely provides consolation and companionship – by making them feel part of that world.

The beginning was difficult. Resources were limited. None of those involved were experts in the field of transmission. It all started from scratch in a small room on top of the church sacristy. Yet, it was from there that the voice which today still echoes first emerged. The first schedule of programmes spread over a few days was successfully completed and all felt happy and proud of the achievement. During the days following the village feast, many were asking, ‘’Why did you stop transmitting?” It was evident that the idea of a local station had been positively welcomed in the village. Not just so, but the community of Qala was in favour of having such an initiative explored further. The enthusiasm of the pioneering group was strong enough not to let the idea die out but instead to develop it. And that is exactly what occurred. From then up till now, the programme schedules only improved with each and every season – both in quality and quantity.

Originally, Radio Lehen il-Qala transmitted on frequency 106.5FM. But when a national radio station started broadcasting on a frequency quite close, it caused a hindrance to our community radio. People were complaining that the voice of the local radio was no longer vivid and thus, following such programmes was starting to be problematic. This was an additional indication Radio Lehen il-Qala was indispensable and highly esteemed by its listeners. It was also a confirmation of an efficient and modern way of spreading the Christian message to the whole community. An official request was therefore made to the Broadcasting Authority and Radio Lehen il-Qala was given a new frequency – 106.3FM. Since its inception, Radio Lehen il-Qala has operated from various transmission studios – always aiming at giving an improved service.

Unfortunately, this did not always turned out to be so! One can only learn through mistakes. In 2005, the thought of having new premises and brand new state-of-the art equipment was brought up. Although keeping in mind that this should bring about various sacrifices and financial problems had to be overcome, the idea was immediately approved. Nevertheless,this still required strength and cooperation amongst many and, in the end, it was exceptionally backed up by the locals and volunteers. The contribution of many resulted in this station’s new studios with their equipment of a superior quality. In addition, they are more comfortable and rank the station on a higher standard. After all, this suits the high image the radio conveys. Finally, these studios have been inaugurated on the 28th July, 2008 and are currently under the direction of the present archpriest Canon Dr. Joe Zammit. They are committed to inprovement in order to enhance the vioce: the voice which for the past 15 years has been the fortitude primarily for the weak ones and for emigrants – and this will lay the way to keep it potent enough to echo to the future generations.

A Small Radio with a Big Heart
It is true that this is a community radio. Equally true is that it is small. Yet no one doubts that it has a big heart. This heart grew in size and strengthened its beat thanks to all those who at one time or another have done their part in its service. There were many who in the course of the years have given their time so that Radio Lehen il-Qala could continue its service towards the community. Presently, the radio can make itself heard both locally and overseas by means of the internet. Through webcasting, emigrants who are living so far from their native town can still feel united to it in spirit. This has been supported by the webcams which have been set in both the St. Joseph Parish Church and Square. Thus the motto, ‘Connecting people all over the world’.

Historic Past
Who could have thought that Radio Lehen il-Qala would start a new page in the field of national broadcasting? Yet that is exactly what happened. Once more, the radio took the front lead among community radios in the finals for best programmes in the Maltese islands. Saturday, 16th November 2002 is a date that will be forever remembered and which will be written in gold in the history of the radio station and in that of broadcasting in Malta. Not only was the radio among the finalists but also won first place with the programme ‘L’edukazzjoni ta’ Wliedna’ (The Education of our Chidren). Many just could not believe it. They wondered how a community radio could compete with national stations. Yet it could. Following its success, the radio figured prominently in the local media when it sought to go further. There were more surprises in the pipeline. The station once more reached the finals in the Awards for the best programmes set by the Broadcasting Authority. In November 2003, Radio Lehen il-Qala won third place out of eighteen nominations in the edition Gharfien Nazzjonali Zghazagh fis-Socjeta’ 2003 (National Recognition of Youth in Society 2003).


Live Cameras:

The Qala Fireworks Group

The Qala Fireworks Group, formed back in 1956, is made up of very dedicated volunteers who work all year round to collect funds and put up one of the numerous aerial and ground fireworks show on Gozo. The group heavily depends on the generosity of the village people, whom with their donations finance a large part of the total outlay. As soon as a feast is over, the group looks back at all the work done and then starts its preparations for the following year's show.

Għaqda Briju San Ġużepp

Għaqda Briju San Ġużepp was formed back in July 2007 when a number of village youths decided to put their energies together with the main aims being of:

Once the committee was formed on 1 July 2007, work started immediately for the feast which was due to be celebrated at the beginning of the following month. In this relatively short period, the group managed to organize with big success two BBQ Fests at Hondoq ir-Rummien with the aim of raising funds to finance the projects which the committee had agreed to work on.

After the 2007 feast was over, the committee prepared a program of activities for the whole year. In fact the group organised transport for the Notte Bianca event in October, a Christmas concert with the collaboration of the Qala Local Council, as well as helped in the carnival celebrations held in our village. In early March, work started on the second phase of the project, which was scheduled to be completed before the 2008 feast. Also the group designed and ordered new feast T-shirts as well as worked on new flags to be used during the marches. Another initiative taken was that of meeting on a regular basis the Qala youths to prepare with them for the feast marches, the aim being of having well organised celebrations.

Qala St. Joseph F.C.

Qala St. Joseph F.C is a football club from the village of Qala in Gozo, Malta. The club was founded in 1968 and is named after the village patron Saint Joseph. They play in the Gozo Football League.

Menhir Qala Folk Group

The Menhir Qala Folk Group, was originally set up to promote the local traditions and culture of the Gozitan and Maltese folklore, with special reference to the village of Qala and its history. The Qala Local Council offered all its means and manpower to sustain the conception and growth of this folk group. The first official group inauguration took place on 18 September 2004 in Ġnien il-Familja where a traditional Maltese night was organized with full co-operation of the Qala Local Council involving the participation of all the members of the group; the repertoire being several traditional Maltese dances and songs. Since its formation in 2003, the Menhir Qala Folk Group has participated in various local, national and international events and activities; mostly those organized by other local councils both in Malta and Gozo.

It is worth mentioning here, that the first invitation abroad was to Porto Roz in Slovenia in July 2005 for the Val Piran International Folklore Festival where the group was representing the Maltese Islands amongst other foreign groups such as those from Portugal, Italy and of course Slovenia.

Since then, the group has participated in other Folk Festivals, held in Lanciano, Italy, Serbia, Czech Republic and Lefkada, Greece. For the near future the group is being enlarged with the involvement of four male dancers. Traditional costumes are worn and tools are used during the dances and songs to provide a better picture to the audience especially for tourists when performing locally and also when participating in international events abroad.

The Menhir Qala Folk Group has recently acquired premises in the village of Qala, which used to be the old police station and which eventually, with the assistance of the Local Council, these premises will be transformed into a folklore museum, and obviously will be the headquarters for the Menhir group.

Ite Ad Joseph

The Ite ad Joseph Band is the official band of the village of Qala is one of eleven bands on the island Gozo. It was established on 8 December 1996 and just recently marked its first fifteenth anniversary. Since then the band has offered numerous services and most of Gozo's feasts on an annual basis mainly at the villages of Nadur, Ghajnsielem, Xewkija, Xaghra, Fontana, Sannat, St Anthony in Mgarr and at the St. George's feast in the capital Victoria. Also, the band has had services in a number of localities in Malta like in Kalkara. The Band is one which is quite renounced in Gozo.

Over the years, the Ite ad Joseph Band grew to become a medium-sized Gozitan band with an emphasis on quality service. It has issued two CDs so far, one in 2001 and another in 2004 on the occasion of the Centenary Celebrations. Between 20 and 26 September 2001 a number of Ite ad Joseph bandsmen participated with the Sicilian Band of Salina at Isola Verde. In September 2005 the band visited and performed in Arvika in the region of Varmland in Sweden. On other occasions a number of bandsmen performed in Siros in Greece.

The band is composed of about 35 regularly practicing and attending bandsmen and women and 39 students studying music, all from the village of Qala. As is the tradition in Gozo, a number of bandsmen and women are invited from outside the village to support the band on most occasions.


St. Joseph Feast (Qala's patron's feast)

The feast of Qala is celebrated on the first Sunday of August and is dedicated to the patron of the village Saint Joseph. The baroque present parish church is dedicated to St Joseph. It was designed by Dun Gużepp Diacono and was built between 1882 and 1889. The foundation stone of the church was laid on 19 March 1882 and the church was consecrated on 8 May 1904. The parish became Archipresbyteral on 21 April 1965.

The community of Qala celebrated the first feast of St. Joseph on 27 April 1890. The village of Qala has a local brass band known as Ite ad Joseph, which plays marches and stage concerts during the festive week.

Gozo International Celebration

An international celebration which is held three times per year; on Christmas, Easter Sunday and on the Feast.

International Folk Festival

The Festival is organised by the Qala Local Council and the Menhir Qala Folk Group. It is spread over four days, and has got a mix of traditional local and foreign folk music, song and dance. Performances are given by both local and foreign folk groups and bands, including instrumental and brass.

In 2008's edition a special attraction was that of It-Tieg-fl-Antik (a traditional Maltese wedding). It started at 11am and was a complete re-enactment of a Maltese wedding. Starting at Imgarr Road then moved in procession towards St Josephs Square. The wedding was concluded with a small 'festin' (Maltese: Party between friends.) serving traditional wedding delicacies. Immediately after the wedding festivities there was the opening of the local Gozitan and Maltese traditional hand-crafts exhibition.

Qala main roads

Other streets at Qala

Streets at Ta' Kassja Area

Twin towns – sister cities

Qala is twinned with: [5]

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  1. "The Malta Government Gazette" (PDF). Government of Malta. 3 September 2019. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  2. p. 88
  3. "Ghar Minka (Minka Ghar) Map, Weather and Photos - Malta: Cave(s) - Lat:36.0264 and Long:14.3072".
  4. Spiteri, Stephen C. (15 January 2011). "St Anthony Battery". Archived from the original on 14 September 207. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  5. "Twinning". Government of Malta. Retrieved 18 September 2019.