Wirt Ghaxdex opens Santa Cecilia Chapel and Mgarr ix-Xini Tower

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Wirt Ghaxdex opens Santa Cecilia Chapel and Mgarr ix-Xini TowerWirt Ghawdex is inviting visitors to Gozo over this long weekend to take the opportunity to visit the Santa Cecilia Medieval Chapel and Mgarr ix-Xini Tower, with free entrance to both sites.

The general public will be able to visit the beautifully restored Santa Cecilia Medieval Chapel, this Saturday, the 23rd of September from 11am to 1pm.

Since its profanation in 1644 up to around 2008, the structure served as an animal shed and a store.

The chapel was entrusted to Wirt Ghawdex, under a management agreement with the Ministry for Gozo, for restoration in 2008.

It was expropriated by the Government at the request of the Ministry for Gozo so that urgent restoration works could be taken in hand. The chapel had in the past suffered from neglect and even a serious vandal attack which caused considerable damage to the monument.

Restoration of the chapel was completed in 2012, with the work was coordinated by Wirt Ghawdex. The chapel is the only one on the island dating back to medieval times. It was dedicated to Santa Cecilia, patroness of sacred music.

The restoration work included the installation of wood flooring, energy saving lighting and the planting of endemic plants.

The outer walls were rebuilt and the roof of the chapel was remade using traditional materials. Rubble walls surrounding the chapel were repaired or reconstructed.

Wirt Ghawdex said that the date of construction of the church, which lies in the shadow of the Santa Cecilia tower, cannot be determined. It is said that it was built about 1540 and the oldest reference concerning this chapel is recorded in the Pastoral Visit of 1615.

Then on Sunday, the Mgarr ix-Xini Tower will be open from 10am to 1pm.

The Mgarr ix-Xini coastal tower was completely restored by Wirt Ghawdex in 2009 and is managed by Wirt Ghawdex through an agreement with the Ministry for Gozo.

The bay of Mgarr ix-Xini, was used by Turkish raiders in raids on Gozo, especially the famous raid of 1551, when according to historians, the whole population was carried off into slavery. At the end of the sixteen century a Tower was built to safeguard this inlet.

The tower now known as ‘It-torri ta’ Mgarr ix-Xini,’ was built at the expense of the local Universitas on a plan by Mederico Blondel, an engineer of the Order of Saint John. Its estimated cost was 857 Scudi.

It was functioning by June 1661, when its artillery and gunpowder were provided by the Order. The tower was manned by a castellan and a professional bombardier, both of whom were salaried by the Universitas.

This tower could send and receive communication from the Comino Tower and later, also from that the Santa Cecilja Tower.

Photographs by Wirt Ghawdex

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