Il-Maqluba: Malta's Sinkhole

On the outskirts of the village of Qrendi, beneath a chapel dedicated to St  Matthew, is a circular depression in the ground. It is known as ‘Il-Maqluba’ which roughly translates to ‘the overturned'. This natural depression is said to have been formed in 1343 after a particularly severe winter, possibly accompanied by an earthquake. Il-Maqluba was formed by the collapse of the underlying limestone strata. In geological terms, this is known as a doline or sinkhole. The sinkhole itself is 15 metres deep and has a perimeter of 300 metres. It supports a variety of trees such as bay laurel, sandarac gum, carob and hawthorne and other endemic vegetation The sinkhole collects water from the surrounding fields and country-side which accounts for the lush vegetation growing inside it even during the height of summer. That is the scientific explanation for the sinkhole and a possible theory about how it was formed.

Sincerely Loree: Il-Maqluba, Malta

Sincerely Loree: Il-Maqluba, Malta

Sincerely Loree: Il-Maqluba, Malta

But there is, of course, is a more colourful story, the legend recounted by word of mouth from one generation to the next. It is said that a small village of evil people lived right over the area where the depression is today. A pious lady who lived where the chapel of St Matthew is now situated repeatedly warned her neighbours to change their evil ways – to no avail. As a result, God decreed that the ground beneath the village would collapse, sparing no one except the good woman. Angels were then sent to dispose of the hamlet by dumping it at sea. According to this legend this is how the small island of Filfla, a few miles off the south-west coast of Malta, originated. I suppose that this one of those instances when the legend is so much more interesting than the truth.

Sincerely Loree: Il-Maqluba, Malta

Sincerely Loree: Il-Maqluba, Malta

Sincerely Loree: Il-Maqluba, Malta

Parnassus said...

Hello Loree, If the presence of evil people causes sinkholes, I think we can pretty much expect the entire world to sink in on itself pretty soon. Seriously, sinkholes are fascinating phenomena, and are a warning to civil engineers and to regular people to pay attention to what is under their feet. I remember when some sinkholes appeared in Cleveland and sucked in some parked cars, but with no injuries. A more natural and fascinating sinkhole in Ohio is the famous Blue Hole of Castalia, somewhat to the west of Cleveland.

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Myths do have charm over geological explanations. Beautiful photos

La Contessa said...


Loree said...

@Parnassus: you are SO right about that. I suppose in the past people had to come up with some sort of explanation for anything they couldn't understand.

@Mawywn: I agree. And thank you :)

@Elizabeth: that would be so much fun.

Debbie Nolan said...

Loree these photos are gorgeous. What a legend too of this sink hole. These sink holes are certainly a mystery where ever they happen. Thanks for sharing your photography and the story about this special spot. Hope you have a great weekend. Thanks too for your thoughts and prayers for the missionaries. Hugs!

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