Thursday, May 12, 2016

MALTA: The Addolorata Cemetery

To be specific, the Santa Maria Addolorata Chapel and Cemetery, built between 1862 and 1869 on Tal-Horr hill, a burial site from prehistoric times...

which we had seen on the way from the airport to our hotel our first day 
and immediately said to each other, "I want to go there!"

Astrid and I have always believed we can learn a lot about a people and culture
from visiting their cemeteries.

So, we went 6 days later, taking the bus from Bugibba to Valletta, the capital, and then to Paola.

The bus stopped outside the cemetery entrance.

Immediately, upon entering the gates, we faced the central cross,
with the spire of the chapel behind it.

Arches surrounded the inside courtyard, leading to the cemetery.

From that point on, we realized we really were on a hill, 
with level after level of stairs climbing ever onward and upward.

The goal eventually was to get to the chapel at the top of the hill.
Even though it wasn't open while we were there, it was totally worth seeing on the outside.

And then, all along the way...where do I even start!  We were short of eyes.
There were the very big and obvious mausoleums of the rich and famous, I assume.

We even saw the one for the Dingli family (bottom-right), 
important to us since we had visited the Dingli Cliffs two days previously.
We paid attention!

There were crosses of every which kind...Celtic, included...
but especially the Maltese Cross (top and center right).
Remember that the Maltese Islands were once ruled by the British for 150 years,
and that this is a Roman Catholic country.

At the very top, we could see far off into the distance, of course,
with gravestones extending out far beyond our sight.

It really did feel like we were on top of the world with those who had gone before us.

But what impressed me the most was how the tombstones were "mobile" and clumped together.
It appears that whole, extended families "occupied" the same spot...with room for more to be added.

Family.  Families.
And look how their photos are important to them!
Often the birth date was NOT given...just the date and the age at death.
You had to do the math in your head.

Do you find this as touching as we did?

And yes, English is spoken/written as well as Maltese.  The British influence.

One particular grave site fascinated us both.
Wouldn't you love to know this story!

And this story...and that one.

There are 250 Commonwealth burials from WWI and 18 from WWII.
Requiescat in pace.

Impressions.  Always the impressions.

We saw a lot but also missed a lot, as you can tell from this YouTube.

 But as we left, we had seen enough and were thankful for what we had learned...
perhaps more from the living than from the dead?


  1. A beautiful post showing last resting places of loved ones where families and friends find comfort. You did a beautiful job with your photos. They were as good as the ones in the video.

    1. So kind of you, Marie. Thank you. We'll never forget the place!

  2. So much to see, and yes the statue stories, I do wonder. It's overwhelming to imagine every person who has ever lived and understand that we can't even begin to know ourselves and our closest loved ones as well as we'd like. Cemeteries really remind me of this.

    1. Well put, Ruth. I agree that there is so much many stories that we'll never know. It's mind-blowing.

  3. This trip is so wonderful. You were able to see so much. I have every intention of going back and I'm going to make your posts guide when I go.

    1. I'm repeating myself but I KNOW you and hubby would LOVE Malta. Just do it! (BTW, we went through a travel agent and saved LOTS of money.)

  4. This is a remarkable place. There is something about cemeteries that I almost don't dare to take pictures. I sometimes feel like an intruder, however, there is so much beauty to be shown. Death is part of life. I never saw such a strong presentation of 'family'. So many plaques, so many stories to tell. I am glad we took this trip to this wonderful place, if you can say a cemetery is a 'wonderful place'. Fabulous pictures and the video is a great find.

    1. We are both on the same page about cemeteries, which makes it all even more exciting. Death IS a part of life...and some countries deal with it much better than others, I think!

  5. I too would have wanted to visit this cemetery. I love the sights, the shows so much of the country and its people and history....and oh the stories there!

    1. It's one of the best cemeteries we've seen thus far, Donna. You'd love it.

  6. Well you know that I too LOVE cemeteries and this one looks like it's in the top five of cemeteries! I would have to spend days there! Interesting at a dinner party last night we somehow got on this subject...and like you mentioned...we in the U.S. really have issues with spending time in cemeteries and I just find it fascinating. We are definitely kindred spirits, ha ha!

    1. We in the U.S. have LOTS of issues, Robin. HA! Why is death so off-topic for so many? The rest of the world, especially the poorer countries, face it head-on and just deal with it! Maybe our "wealth" has blinded us to daily realities? But, yes, we are definitely kindred spirits...which I quite like! :)

  7. I have always enjoyed looking around cemeteries and so has Ange. This one is something else!

    1. We're on the same page, then, Bill! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  8. Magnificent! As you see I’m catching up - haven’t posted anything to my own blog since before my birthday as my head is in other projects and maintaining weekly presence at the mills. You have reminded me of our visit to the cemetery in Prague on the visit when we met you aboard that boat. As I recall, the church was closed in Prague as well, but Dvorak was home. Lovely photos as always.

    1. Well, Ted, YOU HAVE A LIFE! And that always comes first. Sometimes I have to remind myself of the same. But your life is much busier than mine. I don't know how you keep up with yourself...let alone me! Thanks for stopping by when you can. It means a lot. And yes, I do remember that cemetery. I'll never forget it...especially meeting you and Jane on the boat afterwards!