Chapel of St Andrew, Zurrieq

Often, what grabs the attention is 'il-mithna tax-Xarolla' – the Xarolla windmill – partly as an echo of a past where it was the main source of subsistence for those who lived around it but largely because of its rarity; seeing that urbanisation has left so very few standing.

Yet, shift your gaze slightly away from the Xarolla and you’re bound to notice a small, unassuming chapel partly hidden by a couple of large olive trees that have grown in its parvis.  It is a graceful structure, one dedicated to Saint Andrew – the patron saint of fisherman – which  perhaps indicates how most of the locals used to earn their living in the past.

Its modesty, however, belies a rich history.  A few feet away there is complex structure of tombs and small catacombs with a number of chambers dating to the early Christian period and grouped into two main areas.  For those who constructed them, these catacombs were labours of love; a vivid show of their faith.  Their love and workmanship have stood the fierce tests of the centuries that have followed in the form of ornamental rock-cut pilasters that decorate the entrances.

The presence of these catacombs serves as a reminder that this was always a rich hub of life.  There is the belief that the St Andrew Chapel is situated along the oldest ‘road’ on the Island, one that linked the nearby Roman settlement to others situated in the South.

It is this history that you discover if you look away from the obvious attraction.  And, as always with history, through it you can see shadows of the past and it is as if your soul can feel what it meant to live here in different eras.  The names of those who cut out the catacombs or built the chapel have been lost but their work has ensured that they won’t be forgotten.

Want to see the Xarolla windmill and St Andrew's chapel for yourself?  Here are the directions.


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