Żejtun

Malta


Opening Hours for the Public:

 Monday to Friday

  • 1st June – 15th September: 7.45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
  • 17th September – 30th May: 7.45 a.m – 4:00 p.m.

 Saturdays

  • 8.15 a.m. – 11.00 a.m.
Żejtun (also called Iż-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 “azeituna” respectively), which was one of the main productive industries in Malta.


History

Żejtun, lying in the south-eastern part of Malta, covers the top of a hill that dominates the bays of Marsaxlokk, St. Thomas Bay and Marsaskala, popular ports of call for all Mediterranean sailor since Phoenician times. They also provided convenient landing beaches for invaders.



The origins of Żejtun go back to Phoenician and Roman times. Orginally Żejtun, known as Terra Santa Catarina, covered the whole south eastern part of the island extending to the outskirts of the walls protecting Cottonera and included Żabbar, Marsaskala, Marsaxlokk and St. George’s Bay. The inhabitants of Żejtun proper till 1680 formed two separate communities huddled in residences protected by narrow streets (which of themselves provided protection) known as Bisqallin referred to till today as the Lower Village (Ir-Raħal t’Isfel) and Ħal Ġwann and Ħal Bisbut, known today as the Upper Village (Ir-Raħal ta’ Fuq). Development during the eighteenth century and the construction of the new parish church in between the two communities formed the present centre and linked the two to form one community.



In the old days, the residents were sentinels against invasions which landed in the southern bays of the island. Because of this and the fact that they were furthest from Medina, the old capital, they developed an independent self-reliant spirit, often lauded in in their impromptu folk singing (għana), still prevalent today. The separate communities in the lower village and the upper village, with diverse mentalities still prevalent today, could not agree in the site of the new parish church in 1690. In typical Żejtun fashion, agreement was reached to construct the new monumental church on a site in between and equidistant from the two old quarters, integrating them and providing the town with a new imposing, vibrant centre, which is today the focal point of the community of Żejtun.
The name Żejtun originated from Phoenician and Semetic Arab meaning the fruit of the olive tree. In Arabic ‘zaytun’, Turkish ‘zejtin’ and in Spanish and Portuguese where Arab culture flourished found as ‘aceituna’ and ‘azeituna’ respectively. Of course the word ‘zaytun’ is prevalent in North Africa and the Middle Eastern countries. In Maltese itself the word is now only as a place name, and the word ‘żebbuġ’ is now used both for the olive tree and its fruit. Indeed the motto of Żejtun is “Frott Iż-Żebbuġ Ismi”, literally means ‘My Name is the Fruit of the Olive Tree’.



As in most Mediterranean countries, olive tree cultivation and the production of olive oil were prevalent in Malta, especially during Roman times. Over the years this activity declined especially when cotton cultivation became popular around 200 years ago. There has been a renewal of interest in olive tree cultivation during recent years.


Archaeological remains of such activity indicate that the area around Zejtun was already inhabited in Punic and Roman times.

Towards the end of the 18th Century, villages in Malta vied for township status. Thrilled with the presence of Grand Master Ferdinand von Hompesch for the Feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria, in November 1797, Żejtun villagers requested from him the symbolic tribute. His Eminence, convinced by the engaging arguments of his loyal subjects, granted their request. He honored Żejtun with the title of Città Bylandt (in Maltese ‘Beland’), after his mother’s surname.

As in most Mediterranean countries, olive tree cultivation and the production of olive oil were prevalent in Malta, especially during Roman times. Over the years this activity declined especially when cotton cultivation became popular around 200 years ago. There has been a renewal of interest in olive tree cultivation during recent years.Archaeological remains of such activity indicate that the area around Zejtun was already inhabited in Punic and Roman times.

Contact

email
zejtun.lc@gov.mt
address
28, 'Dar iż-Żwieten', Triq Sant' Anġlu, Żejtun, ZTN 1369
phone
(00356) 21663866
Fax Number: (00356) 21663939