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in Series If Youre Going to Malta Be Sure to See Maqluba

Maqluba is a sink hole just at the edge of the village of Qrendi, in the southeast part of the island. If a sinkhole sounds like a strange place to visit, it is. But it's a pleasant green oasis in the yellow sandstone desert of the rest of the island, and Maqluba has a story that's worth the trip.You'll find a church at the edge of the abyss. A charming local legend has it that Maqluba once was a very wicked city, even more wicked than Sodom and Gomorrah.

God asked a pious woman to tell the village that if they didn't repent and stop their evil ways, he would vent his wrath on the city. The woman tried to warn the populace but they ignored her. One day God sent the city to hell. Satan didn't want it either, so he sent it back up. Now it's forever suspended between heaven and hell.

When a local child asks where he or she came from, the parents will say they found him in Maqluba.Geologists and historians disagree about when the sinkhole occurred, but the most popular guess is the 14th Century. The only way to get to the bottom is by a very dangerous stairway that has become unusable without climbing equipment.

For this reason it is remote. Environmentalists everywhere can cheer for the lucky accident. Several varieties of trees and flowers can be found there that cannot be found anywhere else on the island. Local plant biologists are hopeful that Maqluba can become a greenhouse for reintroducing these species back to the rest of the island.

To get to Maqluba, take bus 38 from Triton Fountain in Floriana. At the end of the line in Qrendi, walk forward in the same direction for about three blocks and make a left turn. That will take you the church, which is the landmark.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to see the sinkhole from the walkway around the church. The declivity is surrounded by privately-owned farms. You can get the best view by taking the service road to the left and following it around. Just around the bend you will come to a clearing on your right that will take you to your best vantage point.Finally, I recommend you take a sandwich with you if you intend to spend any length of time at Maqluba. I was unable to find a restaurant in Qrendi when I visited there.

More articles about offbeat tourist spots to come. Even though most younger Maltese haven't heard of Maqluba, it is one of the most interesting places to visit in the islands.

.John Anderson has had a lifelong interest in Malta and has written an international thriller, The Cellini Masterpiece, under the penname of Raymond John. If you would like to read the first chapter or contact him, you may reach him at http://www.cmasterpiece.

com If you want to purchase a copy of the book on Malta, you may do so at the Soleado Guesthouse, 15 Ghar-id-Dud Street. For a more detailed description of Maqluba may be found in his E-zine article called "Language School," the first chapter of a novel-in-progress.

By: John Anderson

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