4 Aspects of Malta's Mysterious Sinkhole - il-Maqluba

Updated: May 15

Aerial view of il-Maqluba [1]

The small, quaint village of Qrendi, located in the South West of Malta, can boast of a long colourful history, a rich religious cultural heritage, fascinating legends, and a peaceful rural environment with breath-taking scenery.

Just outside this small village, with its population of around 3,000, one can find a number of well-known sites, especially popular with tourists, such as the prehistoric temples of Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra, the spectacular fishing hamlet of Wied iż-Żurrieq, and the famous Blue Grotto.

But right at the very end of Tempest Street, which skirts around Qrendi, there is another site which is much less known. At one end of the small open area known as Misraħ tal-Maqluba, and just behind the small chapel dedicated to St. Matthew, lies a mysterious crater-like hole in the ground. At approximately 15 metres deep, 'il-Maqluba', which literally translates into 'turned upside down', covers an area of about 6,000 square metres.


1. God's Punishment? The Legend behind it.

Perhaps not surprisingly, centuries ago the locals came up with a legend to explain the existence of this strange feature. It was said that this was once the site of a small hamlet, whose inhabitants had turned away from God. Though He tried to warn them through a pious woman living in the area, they refused to change their ways and were thus punished. A terrifying storm broke out, as angels ripped the village from its roots and dumped it out at sea, thus not only explaining the large hole left behind, but also the creation of the tiny islet of Filfla. Only the woman, praying inside a small chapel on the village outskirts was spared. This story seemed to be corroborated by the fact that today’s chapel is found literally at the edge of the precipice.

The medieval chapel located almost directly at the edge of the sinkhole.

2. A Geological Feature

In truth, of course, there is a much more logical explanation for the existence of this feature. Such dolines, or sinkholes as they are more commonly known, are usually formed when the ceilings of underground caverns collapse. Given that caves are very common in the Maltese Islands, there are numerous other sink