Sliema (Maltese: Tas-Sliema) is a town in the Central Region of Malta. It is a centre for shopping, restaurants and café life. Tas-Sliema is also a major commercial and residential area and houses several quality hotels. Tas-Sliema, which means 'peace, comfort', was once a quiet fishing village on the peninsula across Marsamxett Harbour from Valletta. Now Sliema and the coastline up to neighbouring St. Julian's constitutes Malta's main coastal resort; as a result, Sliema has been ringed with modern apartment blocks and become engorged with traffic in recent decades causing protest from the Sliema Residents Association.
Sliema got its name from a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary, which served as a beacon and a reference point to the few fishermen who lived in that area. The name could thus be connected with the first words of the Hail Mary prayer, which in Maltese is "Sliem Għalik Marija". Sliem is the Maltese word meaning peace.
The origins – The Siege of Malta
At the Great Siege of 1565, il-Qortin, as it was then known, was a camp centre for Ottoman troops led by Dragut. He met his fate there, having been killed by a bombardment from Fort Saint Elmo at the other flank of Marsamxett Harbour, where Tas-Sliema stands. Fort Tigné was eventually built by the Knights of St. John in the late 18th century and further developed by the British in later years. Tas-Sliema lies on a peninsula.
The British period
In 1855 a new church dedicated to Our Lady Star of the Sea ("Stella Maris") was opened to public worship. Around the new church, the small village grew into a town. By 1878, the population grew to such an extent that the religious authorities had the Stella Maris Church declared a parish in its own right and it was separated from St. Helen's parish of Birkirkara.
The town began to develop rapidly in the second half of the 19th century becoming popular as a summer resort for wealthier Valletta residents. Their elegant villas and town houses lined the quiet, inland streets. Various Victorian buildings graced its three kilometre sea promenade which overlooked rugged rocks, farms and even a small sandy beach. In 1990 one of these farms which had been abandoned, was transformed into a coastline garden known as Ġnien Indipendenza (Independence Garden).
A few Victorian, as well as art nouveau houses, still remain in the inner streets, although only a handful remain along the shoreline, as there has been significant modern development of apartment blocks and hotels. A distinctive group of six traditional houses with Maltese balconies has survived remarkably intact at Belvedere Terrace, set back from Ix-Xatt (the Strand). These houses overlook Manoel Island to the South across the Sliema Creek; the houses have heritage protection and the lower buildings between them and Ix-Xatt cannot be built upwards.
The British built a number of fortifications on the Sliema peninsula in the 19th century. These were Sliema Point Battery (1872–76), Cambridge Battery (1878-86) and Garden Battery (1889–94). In addition, the 18th century Fort Tigné remained in use as well, and barracks were built on the Tigné peninsula.
In 1881 the first sea water distillery on the island was erected in Sliema in order to provide water to the Tigné barracks. In 1882 the distillery was decommissioned and the building, which still stands today, has been occupied by a printing press since that time. The barracks it supplied water to were demolished in 2001 in order to make way for the development of Tigné Point development.
The town has a considerable number of streets connected with the British era in Malta, such as Norfolk Street, Amery Street, Windsor Terrace, Graham Street, Milner Street and Fort Cambridge.
Population and notable residents
The population of Sliema is just under 17,000 and it has a significant turnover of foreign expatriates who reside temporarily. The town was the residence of the late Dr. Giorgio Borġ Olivier, former prime minister and architect of Malta's independence and the temporary residence of socialist Manwel Dimech who was one of Malta's foremost revolutionary thinkers at the turn of the 20th century. He died in exile in Egypt and Lower Prince of Wales Road was renamed in his honour. Tas-Sliema is also the hometown of footballer Michael Mifsud and music artist Ira Losco.
It was the birthplace of several famous people: former prime minister Dr. Alfred Sant; Dr. Michael Falzon of the Malta Labour Party; Captain George Stivala O.B.E., High Commissioner for Malta in Australia during the 1950s and 1960s; Archbishop George Caruana (1882–1951), the venerable Don Nazzareno Camilleri (1906–1973), British journalist Peter Hitchens and vocalist Marc Storace of the Swiss heavy metal band Krokus.
Irish billionaire tax exile Denis O'Brien has a "residential address" as Flat 6/60, Suite F, Tigne Street in Sliema, according to O'Brien's own filing with the Companies Registration Office (CRO).
- Savoy Hotel
- Palazzo Capua
- The Stella Maris Church, Mother Parish of Sliema
- The Sacro Cuor Parish Church (Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Parish Church)
- The Chapel of Our Lady of Graces
- Fort Tigné
Sliema has a number of Catholic churches such as the one dedicated to Jesus of Nazareth known as "In-Nazzarenu", three dedicated to Our Lady : Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Stella Maris (which is the oldest Catholic church and thus the mother church dating from 1855) and one dedicated to a saintly Pope St. Gregory the Great.
In addition to the above list of churches, is the Anglican Holy Trinity Church Built in 1866 in Rudolphe Street.
Like all Maltese towns and villages the annual Sliema parish feasts are very popular especially those held in honour of the Our Lady Stella Maris (August) and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (Madonna tas-Sacro Cuor)in July. While to a lesser extent those of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (July)and St. Gregory (September)
Sliema also has four band clubs which take part in the parish feasts held in the summer months and are active all year round. These societies are Stella Maris Band Club (founded in 1914), The "Societa' Filarmonica SLIEMA" Band Club (founded in 1923). Mount Carmel Band Club (1987) and St. Gregory Band Club (1987).
The 1st Sliema Scout Group (Bernard's Own) is the oldest surviving Scout Group outside the United Kingdom and was founded in 1909 by Sir Edgar Bernardth and are still a major influence on Scouting in Malta.
Over the years, the Sliema Group has collected a wealth of scouting tradition and has proudly passed this knowledge on from generation to generation.
Zones in Tas-Sliema
- Font Għadir
- Għar id-Dud
- The Strand
- Tigné Point
Tas-Sliema main roads
- Ċirku Dingli (Dingli Circus)
- Ix-Xatt (The Strand)
- Triq Bisazza (Bisazza Street)
- Triq Ċensu Xerri (Vincent Xerri Street)]
- Triq Depiro (Depiro Street)
- Triq Għar id-Dud (Ghar id-Dud Road)
- Triq il-Kbira (Main Street)
- Triq it-Torri (Tower Road)
- Triq Manwel Dimech (Manoel Dimech Street)
- Triq Rudolfu (Rodolph Street)
- Triq Sir Adrian Dingli (Sir Adrian Dingli Street)
- Triq tal-Katidral (Cathedral Street)
- Triq Nicolò Isouard (Nicolò Isouard Street)
- Triq Giorgio Borġ Olivier (Giorgio Borġ Olivier Street)
- Triq Windsor (Windsor Street)
- Xatt ta' Qui-Si-Sana (Qui-Si-Sana Waterfront)
- Xatt ta' Tigné (Tigné Waterfront)
- Pjazza Annunzjata
- Pjazza Sant'Anna
Our Lady Star of the Sea
Water front of Sliema.
- Les Sables-d'Olonne, France
- Hartlepool, United Kingdom