Marsaxlokk church is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary The Madonna of Pompeii.
There are various village feasts with religious processions and spectacular firework displays in honour of Our Lady on 8th May, 1st Sunday in August and 1st Sunday in October. Inside the church you can see the statue of the Madonna and Child which came from Lecce in Italy in 1900.
When arriving in Marsaxlokk one of the first things we noticed was this guy stood on the waterfront with two large birds,one was an Owl perched on his arm the other a Falcon on its pedestal.He was quite happy to let people have the birds on their arm for a small tip so you could take photos.Locals told us he is here nearly every day.
During the 19th century Marsaxlokk became a popular summer resort and a church dedicated to Our Lady of Pompeii became the parish church of the local community in 1897.Built in 1892 it was at first dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary.The church is the site of a national pilgrimage every year on the 8th May.
The main market in Marsaxlokk is on a sunday selling mainly fish,but the usual market is on every day of the week.Mostly selling souveniers to tourists like glass and ceramic ornaments,flags,tea towels,paintings etc.most goods are fairly cheap but depends on what you want.Its only a small market so expect a lot but its in a lovely setting on the waterfront.
Marsaxlokk has one of the prettiest harbours in Malta with lots of brightly coloured fishing boats bobbing about on the water and fishmen arranging their catch nets on the shore.There are a few nice bars and cafe's as well as shops on the waterfronts main st and the fish market (sunday mornings) and regular market (every day except sunday) are located near the harbours edge.
Marsaxlokk's most scenic feature is, of course, it's harbour full of colourful fishing boats (luzzu, traditional eyed boats), stalls selling juices, ice cream, as well as all types of local souvenirs. This is also where you arrive if you take one of the open-top buses to get round the island - the bus, in fact, stops right on the seafront.
If you want to just explore the harbour and take pictures, about an hour is enough - but it's also a good place for a leisurly lunch if you're into seafood.
The present Church of Our Lady of Snow was finished in 1833 on the site of an even older church.
In 1933 the Discalced Carmelites, also known as Barefoot Carmelites, took over the church and the adjacent buildings.
They use it as a centre of vocations as well as a retreat centre.
The Church of Our Lady of Snow is situated a 15 minutes walk northeast of Marsaxlokk's centre. It can be found at the beginning of the street Triq Delimara. The area is also known as Tas-Silg.
A statue of St Andrew stands in the Marsaxlokk square. The apostole St Andrew holds a diagonal cross as a symbol of his martyrdom.
He is the patron saint of the fishermen and fish dealers, that's why the statue looks towards the harbour. St. Andrew and his brother were both fishermen.
The St.Andrew Statue can be found just in front of the Restaurant Ta' Victor, just in the neigbourhood of the Our Lady of Pompeii Church.
The Fort St. Lucian was built in the early 17th century to protect Marsaxlokk Bay against Turkish attacks. It is one of seven towers which were commissioned by Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt.
During the Second World War the Fort St. Lucian served as a munitions depot for the British army. Nowadays, it is home to the Marine Research Centre.
The Fort St. Lucian is situated a 15 minutes walk south of Marsaxlokk's centre. It can be found at the street Triq Il-Qajjenza , which leads to Birzebbugia.
The twin-towered Our Lady of Pompeii Church was built in Baroque style at the end of the 19th century.
Between the two towers stands a statue of the Virgin Mary in a traditional luzzo boat. She looks towards the sea.
Inside the church a statue of the Madonna and Child can be seen. It was created in Lecce in Italy in 1900.
The Our Lady of Pompeii Church overlooks the harbour of Marsaxlokk. It is located slightly back from the waterfront, but right in the heart of the town.
Our Lady of Pompeii Church, Triq Iz Zejtun, Marsaxlokk
Ok apart from the colourfull boats there is not much to see here. But the trip by bus from Valletta is short. We only stayed for 2 hours or so; to take some pictures and have a look at the tourist stalls.
The harbour is full of these traditional brightly painted boats. Their design is said to date back to the ancient Phoenicians who arrived in Malta around 800 BC. As you walk round the harbour, you can see locals maintaining them.
Most of Malta's fish supplies are caught by fishermen coming from Marsaxlokk. Swordfish, tuna, and the popular 'lampuki' are caught in abundance between spring and late autumn.
On weekdays, the catch is taken to the fish-market in Valletta, but on Sundays fish is retailed by fishermen in the open on the quay.
The fishing boats are colurfull and provide some great photo opurtunities.
I heard of this restaurant by coincidence ( whilst playing poker with my mates- pardon it wasn’t strip poker) and was enthused with having lunch on a bright Sunday morning somewhere different and as much as possible someplace that would cater for my never ending appetite for fish. It has been ages since i started looking for the perfect fish spot, and for a small island in the middle of the med, it seems as though it was going to be an impossible feat. Or not?
Lousy fish displays, Italian wannabe restaurants, promises of a fab fat meal all diluted with miserable looking wine lists and lack of taste or garnish for the matter. Although i must say that lately i am noticing a lot of effort going into improving the ambience of the outlets( essentially part of the foodies meal experience) better than having the cheap looking furniture from nanna’s closet , but, still for an island we lack good fish and SHELLFISH restaurants. Long and gone are the days i spent basking in the sun in St. Malo- France . Sipping Sauvignon and enjoying the cheapest Shellfish platter in the world- full crab, half a Lobster, three types of shrimps, the lovely Cancale Bay Oysters- six of them, Mussels, some type of vongole and Cuttlefish. All this and a side of home- cut chips for 36 Euros. Drop dead incredible prices- worth moving to France and eat shellfish for the rest of my life.
I made up my mind and decided to visit Marsaxlokk. Four lost male hearts looking for the ideal spot where to let loose and relax after six pain staking days of hard toil. We headed directly to Ix- Xlukkajr ( since it was recommended- than let’s see if this restaurant can live up to it’s name or die with the rest). Upon approaching the village square, i could see the tables laid out on the pavement, looked like an extremely busy day and although there were the usual annoying little brats running around and shouting mummy mummy mummy, still, compared to the other restaurants on the promenade ix- Xlukkajr looked tranquil and serene with an air of busy and buzzing but not annoying. To my astonishment we were greeted with a “good afternoon how may i help you?” from a young gorgeous twenty year old girl ( ahhhhhhh getting too old !) Got an aperitif to kick start our Lunch mode and off we go. Looked at the menu- it was a Sunday Lunch menu with a restricted selection( still a good one) but i think that with the volume of patrons they get on a Sunday it is the most sensible thing to do. The manager came over to recommend the fresh fish from the display. I could not believe the selection. Probably the fish hawkers across the road did not even have half of Ix- Xlukkajr fish selection- John Dory, Rockfish, Gallinela, Snappers, my all time favourit- Kahli( reminds me of my grandmas’ cooking) and the list just goes on and on. Obviously Mark ( best mate) decided to be a s..t head and asked for Vopi- probably the only fish they did not have in the display. What do you expect from a thirty four year old single???
I was enthused with the shellfish selection and wanted to know more about it, Ix- Xlukkajr has over 20 different types of Crustaceans, cephalopods and molluscs. Can you believe that i found Cancale Oysters??????? I loved the selection, but, we are still in the ordering of food mode, and it is never advised promising without delivering.
After a good twenty minutes of debating and two servings of negroni each, we decided on the selection. We told the manager to bring any shellfish available ( obviously serving only four people and not 20) and we wanted John Dory ( pesce San Pietru) and Rockfish (Cipulazza) for main course.
By the time we gave in the order it was already 13:30p.m and Marsaxlokk had just got a mega tourist flooding, flocks of tourists rushing down from coaches as if there was a Lidl sale across the road. I assumed that it was going to take the restaurant long, so decided on getting two bottles of Gavi rather than one. The staff were extremely attentive i must admit and Ix- Xlukkajr has does little touches that may easily win over a person for example: the trio of home infuse oil ( herbs and garlic, chilli and mixed nuts) to drizzle your bread with. The same good looking girl approached us again and kindly asked us for some space on the table ( which was littered with four mobile phones, two ash trays, packets of cigarettes and what not. She brought over a stand with a tray on top, fresh pepper and after another three minutes we saw her come out with a massive platter of yummy shellfish. Mark obviously turned on to me and said- there goes my bonus. I respectfully replied “ shut the f... up mate and eat”. Glorious shellfish- why did i not get to know about this place earlier, the mussels were juicy fresh perfectly balance out with the rest of the shellfish. The scallops backed with some sort of a sauce which was lovely- baked au gratin with a hint of cheese- worth my cholesterol level to go sky high, but who cares. The King prawns at Ix- Xlukkajr are the real deal. No tacky tasteless Argentinean prawns or second class Egyptian prawns. These were to die for, i could not stop sucking the garlic butter from the prawn heads. Fasolari and Vongole al cartoccio in orange juice and lime zest, razor clams, mussles, calamari ( both tempura and sautéed), octopus, scallops, oysters, Xkall( a local crustacean rarely found in restaurants but yet again Ix- Xlukkajr seems to be different from the rest of the restaurants).
After eating such a bonanza i was not sure what to expect from the mains, surely we spent a good thirty minutes eating the starters and asked a minimum of three bread servings, Tony ( another best mate) started arguing that he had less mussels than the rest of us- what a shame, grown up men fighting for some mussels. That is how good the food was- was in cloud number nine. We had to ask for a cigarette break prior to our main, this served everyone as a moment of reflection to what we had just experienced, shortly after two massive dishes pop out. The staff started filleting the fish in front of us (let’s face it- for a busy Sunday the service is superb), John dory was cooked with potatoes, thyme, lemon, garlic and probably something else. When the waitress told us they used thyme, i was not too sure about it, but, Ix- Xlukkajr seems to keep on impressing me. The Rock fish was divine- simple execution of one of the finest fish on island. The John Dory although one of my all time favourite fish seemed to be less important and pronounce compared to the rock fish, nevertheless it was lovely ( and the thyme fear was unfounded), well balance dish, getting a kick from the lemon zest and retaining most of its’ natural aromas.
Dessert: all of us had a home - made lemon sorbet- which apart from being refreshing, it tasted home- made. In Malta too often restaurateurs use the words home- made and fresh, so whenever i get a manager recommending a “ home- made goodie” a usually choose to have it for one specific reason – see if he/ she was lying. At ix-Xlukkajr, what you get promised you get. Dessert was fantastic.
Obviously three bottles of wine down, half a bottle of limoncello, mega shellfish platter and two of the most expensive fish on the island: priced at around Lm9.00 we were expecting a whooping price, instead we got a humble € 48.00 each. For the food and the wine we had this was more than value for money. We could have gone for the salad and chips or the less expensive goodies on the menu but, why bother. Ix- Xlukkajr was one of the best meals on island so far. And considering it was probably one of their busiest days i want to try it out again on a different day, maybe they actually manage to exceed my first experience. A DEFINITE recommendation to any fish and non fish lovers out there.
Visit the local market on Sunday morning - you will find eveyrthing you want to buy at good bargains too !! Here you can buy Maltese lace, fresh fish, toys, clothes, books and household items and much more !