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XAGHRA

Xaghra Village was formerly called Caccia (hunting), probably because the high plateau on which it stands used to be a favourite spot for bird and hare shooting. Its present name, Xaghra, means scrubland which also hints at its hunting tradition.

The famous temples of Ggantija and the Neolithic site of Sta. Verna, both within the locality, testify to the prehistoric origins of this village. Calypso Cave, of classical fame, is also within the ambit of Xaghra.

The present village has a more recent history. It was created a parish in 1688. At the time, the parishioners had to content them- selves with a small church and it was only during the last century that they could afford to build a new one.

The new church dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin, was completed in 1855. Twenty-three years later, it was consecrated and created a collegiate church.

The church of the Nativity is among the most beautiful of the Gozo churches. It stands in a spacious rectangular square, in which one can still see the columnar parish cross and admire the old houses and shops around the perimeter.

The church interior is richly decorated with gilt sculptures, stained-glass windows, fine Italian marbles and paintings by foremost Maltese artist. The Statue of fi-Bambina, representing the Nativity of the Virgin, on its silver pedestal is a big attraction to visitors.

The statue is carried in procession in the village streets on the feast day, the 8th September, which day is also Victory Day, a National Day in the Maltese Islands.

The village of Xaghra boasts of two curious grottoes, both of them inside private premises, remarkable for their stalactites and stalagmites. Here one also finds an unusual Toy Museum.

In a street close by the main square is an old wheat-grinding windmill, still in working order, with its revolving sails and millshaft.

It dates from 1725, and is one of two that still exist in Gozo. The Xaghra windmill is now completely restored and is open to the public.

The other one is at the village of Qala.

Text courtesy of the National Tourism Organisation - Malta.