The village of Ghajnsielem is situated in the small island of Gozo, Malta’s sister-island. Malta is situated in the centre of the Mediterranean – 93 km south of Italy and 290 km north of North Africa. Gozo lies about 5 km in the North West of Malta and the distance between Ċirkewwa in Malta and Mgarr Harbour in Gozo, involves a 25 minute ferry crossing.
Ghajnsielem has a population of around 3,000 and is the first Gozitan village that will greet you as soon as you leave Mgarr Harbour towards the Gozitan heartland. As soon as you enter Mgarr Harbour, while still aboard the ferry, you could not help but notice the welcoming landmarks of the harbour village of Ghajnsielem. Lourdes Chapel with its sharp steeple and underlying niche of Our Lady of Lourdes, Fort Chambray on the left-hand side dominating the high grounds and, on the distant background, the towering belfry of Ghajnsielem’s Parish Church. The people of Ghajnsielem are referred to as il-Ghajnsilmizi.
The name of the village is a composite of ‘Ghajn’ (spring of) and ‘Is-sliem’ (peace). This name probably refers to a natural spring which used to supply water, and subsequently modified and reconstructed by Grand Master Raymond Perellos in 1700 when he built an arcade containing nine washing basins bestowed its name to the village.
A visit to Ghajnsielem should include Mgarr Harbour and fishing village. Ideally next comes Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel from where, especially at sunset, a beautiful view of Mgarr Harbour could be enjoyed. The 18th Century Fort Chambray, which was once unsuccessfully planned to be Gozo’s Valletta, is also worth noting especially its perimeter. Up there you can discover views of Gozo’s southern cliffs, Xatt l-Aħmar Bay and those of the Northern Comino Channel. The narrow winding road leading to peaceful bay of Xatt l-Ahmar could be traced from there, or else you could endeavour towards the village centre for a visit to the majestic Lombard-Gothic sanctuary dedicated to Our Lady of Loreto. In the vicinity there is also the old parish church and the mysterious “Pjazza tad-Dehra” (square of the apparition) where it is believed that Our Lady has spoken to a local shepherd Anglu Grech. The parish owes its origin to the story of this apparition. A visit to the old Franciscan convent and church of St. Anthony of Padua is also worthwhile. Apart from the tranquillity of the area surrounding the convent, one could not remain anything less than charmed by the views upon the Gozo Channel particularly early in the morning or late at sunset