Dwejra – the Knights’ medicine chest

UPDATE: The Azure Window collapsed during a violent storm on the 8th of March 2017. The entire structure fell into the sea and is no longer visible. 

Dwejra is located on the eastern cost of Gozo and is my favorite place in all of the Maltese Islands. It is a mecca for scuba tourists but even if you are not a diver it is well worth a visit to see the Azure window, Fungus Rock and the Inland Sea.

The Azure Window at Dwejra

 

If you are driving over to Gozo on an day trip from Malta, get an early start and make Dwejra your first stop. Drive from the ferry in Mgarr, through Rabat & San Lawrenz and get here before the busses arrive. Walk carefully across the sharp rocks and start at the Azure window. If the sea is rough, sit for a while and watch the waves crashing through the arch. On a calm day it won’t be long before the scuba divers start to arrive and drop down into the ‘blue hole’ – a circular pool in front of the window. I am not a diver but apparently Dwejra is equally spectacular above and below the water.

You used to be able to climb up the rocks over the blue hole and watch the bubble trails from divers rise to the surface. If you were feling brave (or reckless) you could continue op onto the top of the Azure windows for a spectacular panorama of all of Dwejra bay. Nowadays there are signs warning of the perils of climbing the rocks. Probably sensible advice unless the use of an air ambulance is covered by your holiday insurance.

IMG_0000044

 

If you do fancy a walk, an alternative is to head south and walk round the bay towards Fungus Rock or ‘Il-Ġebla tal-Ġeneral’ to give it it’s Maltese name. The name of this lump of limestone comes from the plant (not fungus) that grows on the top of the rock. Fucus coccineus melitensis was believed by the Knights of Malta to have medicinal properties. It was said to stop bleeding and be a remedy for Dysentery. It was considered so useful that the Knights rigged up a primitive cable car to enable them to get to the top. They also made it known that unauthorised collectors would be rewarded with imprisonment.

General's Rock

 

If you don’t mind walking over some very rough ground, you might be tempted to climb around to the top of the cliffs on the south side of the Fungus Rock lagoon. This area is used by the controversial Maltese bird hunting community whos hides are dotted all along the hillside. Before you decide to climb up here, be very sure that there is no hunting going on or be prepared for an angry exchange with a man with a gun. If you do get up to the top, stay away from the edge. Sit down and admire the views. Look how tiny the Azure Window looks from up here. Can you see it in this photograph?

Looking down on Dwejra and fungus rock

Before we leave Dwejra, here is a 360 degree panorama, stitched together from 35mm film frames (remember the days before digital cameras). Click the link and take a look at the larger image in Flickr. Feel free to download and zoom around but beware – the file is about 90 mb in size.

Panorama of Dwejra Bay

And finally, here is the Dwejra as a Google Map. Zoom out to work out how to get there from your location. Take the main road through Rabat (Victoria) going east to west. If you have made an early start, stop briefly at Ta Miema supermarket and get a few things for an improvised breakfast – gbejniet (cheese), olives, capers and some crusty local bread would be my recommendation. Drive on for three or four miles and you will get to the sleepy village of San Lawrenz. From here you will see signs to Dwejra – you can’t go wrong!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *