Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Citta Beland - Zejtun
Żejtun is a medium sized town in the south of Malta. Żejtun holds the title of Città Beland, which was bestowed by Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim, Grandmaster of Knights of Malta in 1797, Beland being his mother's surname.
Żejtun takes its name from the Sicilian Arabic for “olive”- zaytun (comparable to the Spanish and Portuguese, "aceituna" and "azeitona" respectively), which was one of the main productive industries in Malta. It is also known as Ħal-Bisbut, or Casal Bisbut.
In Medieval times the whole district around Żejtun, that is the southern end of Malta, was known as le Terre di Santa Caterina, ( Italian for 'the lands of Saint Catherine', Italian being the official language in the period). During this period a number of new villages such as Ghaxaq and Marsaxlokk emerged from parts of the Parish of Żejtun. In the medieval years Zurrieq was bordered by Zejtun because Birzebugia was part of Zurrieq and thats why they share the same patron Santa Katarina. most of these are today separate parishes.
The local militia regiment of Żejtun was one of the first to engage the Ottoman forces in the initial stages of the Great Siege of 1565, but the town continued to suffer attacks by Turkish pirates up to 1614, when an attack by the Turks was repulsed without aid from other militias. The town served a minor role in the French Blockade of 1799/1801 as a depot for soldiers. It was one of the first towns in Malta, outside the main fortified areas of Malta, to boast a Public Garden. This garden, the Luqa Briffa Garden, still stands today. It is named after a famous cavalryman during the Great Siege of Malta.