Located on the southern coast of Malta is the village of Zurrieq. It is the largest village in the region, and one of Malta’s original medieval parishes.
The name of the village is thought to derive from the Maltese word Żoroq, which means “deep blue”. Zurrieq’s motto also refers to this belief as it translates as “from the blue sea I took my name”. Even the village’s coat of arms includes the white and blue colours of the sky and the sea. Certainly its location on the cusp of the deep blue Mediterranean Sea indicated the appropriateness of its name.
Much of the village survives from the time before the arrival of the Knights and provides an insight into pre-baroque Malta. The village is near some spectacular coastline, such as the picturesque, tiny harbour of Wied iz-Zurrieq which is situated at the end of a rugged valley. From the village harbour, you can take a short boat trip to the Blue Grotto. At this popular local beauty spot you will find a series of natural, sea-level caves.
Zurrieq was first mentioned in 1399 and here you can still find numerous houses in that date way back to the 15th and 16th century. Both the town and the surrounding area are rich in archaeological and historic sites. These include including several ancient chapels, a Roman tower, Punic tombs and a strange, free-standing room with an Egyptian cornice.
Zurrieq’s most prominent landmark, however, is the Tax-Xarolla Windmill. Looking similar to a Spanish windmill from Don Quixote, this one was built in 1724 by the Knights of Malta. Left to deteriorate over time, the windmill went through a restoration process in 1992 and today it is the only functioning windmill in the whole country. The windmill serves as a cultural centre as it still has parts of the original mechanisms and can still grind the wheat.
In 1436, Zurrieq became a parish and has flourished ever since. The population grew from 2,000 inhabitants in 1530 to 16,000 in 2010. The parish church was built between 1634 and 1659 and is dedicated to Saint Catherine of Alexandria. As in other Maltese localities, the village feast is held in honour to the parish patron. What distinguishes Zurrieq (and few other villages in the South) is the fact that it celebrates two village feasts. The feast of Saint Catherine of Alexandria is held on the first Sunday in September. The second feast is that of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which is celebrated annually on the first Sunday after July 16th. Both festivals are colourful occasions during which statues of the saints are paraded through the streets in a cacophonous celebration that is a must to experience.