In the old
maps, two landmarks are indicated to the north of the
Maltese Islands: the saltpans, and the old church of
Mellieha. The production of salt has been moved to another
place (the old saltpans were ones sites where the Ghadira
Bird Sanctuary now stands), but the old semi-underground
church dedicated to Our Lady still stands; in it a fresco
of the Virgin Mary was, according to tradition, painted
by St. Luke himself who, with St. Paul, was shipwrecked
not far from here in the year 60. Scientific study of
the icon has assigned it to a more recent, but still
very ancient period.
The old saltpans are gone but they have given their
name to the town of Mellieha, melh being the Maltese
word for “salt”.
Most of the sandy beaches, none of them very big, are
found to the north of Malta, not far from Mellieha,
the largest being at Mellieha Bay itself.