Heritage Malta and Din l-Art Ħelwa, in collaboration with the Mqabba local council, will be opening two historical sites to the public on Sunday.
Heritage Malta will open Tal-Mintna Catacombs while DLĦ will open the church of the Annunciation at Ħal Millieri.
Tal-Mintna Catacombs are a group of three small catacombs probably used around the 4th and 6th centuries AD. The site was first documented in 1860 by Antonio Annetto Caruana, who was shown the site by Captain Walter Strickland.
Caruana records that these three catacombs were only accessible through a well shaft in one of the nearby houses. This use as a well meant that this historical site, originally consisting of independent catacombs, was joined by means of passages and a water channel, thus causing substantial damage to both archaeology and the physical site.
These catacombs remain, however, among the best representations of rural catacombs in Malta. Most window tombs are decorated with carved pilasters and the conches of a few tombs contain some of the best preserved respresentations of the scallop shell motif, a symbol that was frequently used in early Christian iconography.
■ Tal-Mintna Catacombs in Mqabba will be open at a reduced price on Sunday between 9am and noon and tours will be given every 15 minutes. Due to lack of space and also to ensure visitors enjoy a personalised tour of the site, a maximum of 10 persons will be accepted for each tour. Tickets can be purchased on the day from the site.
The church of the Annunciation at Ħal Millieri is a major landmark of Malta’s medieval past.
The present edifice dates to around 1450 but archaeological excavations have shown that it was built over the site of an earlier, possibly 13th-century chapel and a much older late-Roman rural complex.
The Ħal Millieri church is best known for its medieval architectural features, and for the unique set of fresco paintings that adorn its side walls between the springing of the arches.
This anachronistic cycle of holy effigies, which is believed to have been copied from the earlier chapel, has been expertly restored through the efforts of DLĦ, as a fine example of Maltese medieval vernacular art.
■ The Ħal Millieri church, limits of Żurrieq, will be open for the public on Sunday between 9am and 12pm. Entrance will be free of charge.
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