Malta’s glorious landscapes are a picturesque patchwork of rugged limestone cliffs, verdant terraced fields and mystical Megalithic ruins. It’s little wonder that the archipelago is brimming with extraordinary natural wonders that have inspired Greek mythology and folkloric legends. From ancient cave networks and must-visit swim sites to mysterious sinkholes and unique flora and fauna, here we explore the seven Maltese landmarks that make up the archipelago’s seven wonders.
Cast adrift in Gozo’s Dwejra Bay, Fugus Rock is a tiny islet that soars up 60 metres above the sea. Whilst similar islets pepper the coat of the Maltese archipelago, Fungus Rock is special due to the rare plant, cynomorium coccineum that grows upon it. Prized in European, Arabian and Chinese herbal medicine, this unique plant was venerated for its alleged therapeutic properties. The Knights of Malta fiercely guarded this Maltese landmark’s precious crop, gifting cynomorium coccineum to most distinguished visitors.
According to local legend, the pine tree at the base of Saqqajja Hill was struck by lightning and overnight changed into the shape of Jesus on the crucifix. Since that fateful night, it has been known as the Jesus Tree. With its gnarled branches contorted into the shape of a cross and its trunk bursting from the bark in a Christ-like form, the resemblance is certainly uncanny even to the most atheist of onlookers.
Located near the remote town of Qrendi, Il-Maqluba (meaning ‘upside down’) sinkhole is a true geological wonder. Formed in 1343 following a horrific storm, the 160-foot wide and 50-foot deep hole appeared in the landscape. Foliage has since reclaimed the vast hole, creating a garden of bay, gum and carob trees. Myths and legends swirl around Il-Maqluba’s creation: it’s said to be the wrath of God destroying a village of evil people that once inhabited the area.
The Inland Sea is a small landlocked lagoon fed through a small tunnel in the limestone cliffs, which joins it to the Mediterranean. It’s an unmissable Maltese landmark. Just large enough to accommodate little boats, the tunnel serves as a gateway for visitors to be transported into this picturesque corner of Gozo. The Inland Sea is a favourite with divers who love its calm shallow waters and rich marine life.
Found on Malta’s western coast, Dingli Cliffs are the island’s highest point at 253 metres. A curve of sheer, rocky cliff face that plunges vertically to the azure ocean, Dingli Cliffs have served as Malta’s natural fortress for centuries. Sprinkled with vegetation and giving way to terraced fields, the cliffs offer incredible views and make a beautiful place to walk. Pop into tiny chapel of St. Mary Magdalene that teeters precariously close to the edge.
This natural wonder is the scenic spot that launched a thousand Maltese picture postcards. Along the southern coast of the island, the Blue Grotto is an incredible cave complex recognised by its unmistakable giant stone arches curving into the sea. Formed by the persistent wave crashing, the caves invite exploration by boat. Most spectacular of all are the dazzling cobalt waters and mesmerising sea reflections.
The Azure Window may have previously dominated guidebooks on Maltese landmarks, but since its collapse in 2017, an equally spectacular window has taken its place. Wied il-Mielah on Gozo is a natural wonder that’s accessible via a rural walk from the village Gharb. Even though it’s a fair distance, all efforts are rewarded with spectacular views of Wied il-Mielah’s rugged heights skirted by crashing indigo waves below. Take along a picnic for a picturesque lunch with breath-taking panoramas.
Are you an art lover or culture vulture holidaying in Malta? Well, you’ll be pleased to find that this Mediterranean island may be small, but it packs a punch when it comes to art and culture. Here are six recommended destinations to add to your itinerary to experience the best of Malta’s art scene.