Every country has its own myths and legends. We often hear about other countries’, sometimes even getting to watch them on the big screen, but we seldom think about our own local legends.
Some of them have an element of truth, some are unbelievable, while others are straight up true. Here’s a list of insane Maltese myths and legends, and the places that host the fucked up, sometimes nightmarish stories.
1. St. Gregory’s Hidden Tunnels
The story starts in 1969 when a young man, Grezzju, was doing some work on the church dome. Grezzju got bored (don’t we all?) and noticed a crack in the wall between some slabs. Vella threw some rocks in the crack, never even imagining what would happen next. He realised that throwing stuff in cracks was way bigger than he thought it to be, as he suddenly noticed that by the sound of it, it seemed like there was a chamber right underneath the roof. Vella called the fellow workers, the sacristan and a priest and they all proceeded to remove one of the stones to investigated.
Vella, being the scapegoat of the story, was tied to a rope and given a box of matches (yes, matches. Not a candle or a lamp, matches) and was pushed inside the hole to explore whatever treasures these people thought they would find.
Needless to say that Grezzju was left traumatised by what he discovered — a substantial amount of skeletons, just chilling.
These unfortunate souls were said to have been trying to escape a Turkish attack, only to be sealed inside the hidden passage — starving to death, afraid and trapped the group of people slowly died one by one inside the secret passage which was ironically built to save them from a horrible death or slavery.
2. Sant’ Anġlu
Fort Saint Angelo was built by the Knights, and leave it for those guys to make a place a hundred times more shady than it already is. The bastion has been known for its role in the Great Siege and people have been intrigued by this place and the area around it for a long time.
During the siege, some of the Ottoman soldiers were decapitated and their heads were used as cannon balls. To be fair, this was done because the Ottomans had just crucified a couple of knights. The place is said to be to this day haunted by the headless Ottomans and the mysterious Grey Lady. The Grey Lady, like all the other bleak coloured ladies rumoured to haunt Maltese locations, was extremely beautiful and had a tragic life. She was one of the mistresses of a member of the Di Nava family. Tired of being only the mistress, the Grey Lady complained, and in true medieval fashion, she was killed and thrown into the dungeon known as It-Toqba.
Anyway, someone reportedly exorcised her and the place, so there’s no need to worry.
3. Għar Ħasan
Għar Ħasan is a magical cave in the south of Malta. The hassle to get to the cave and the eerie sound of the waves crashing against the rock formation below you is enough to make you feel uneasy wandering around this enormous cave. Named after Saracen Ħasan, the cave tells the story of how he lusted after a girl from a nearby village and practically kidnapped her. Ħasan kept the girl hidden away in this cave, presumably hoping she would get a severe case of Stockholm Syndrome.
A group of local farmers found Ħasan’s hiding place and ambushed him to rescue the girl. Panicked and most probably shitting his pants as he saw the raging farmers, Ħasan threw the poor girl off the cliff (true love) and jumped right after. Another version says that the girl could simply not get herself to develop the much hoped-for Stockholm Syndrome, jumped off the cliff in despair, and Ħasan soon followed.
4. Fort Ricasoli
Some of us remember grandparents or perhaps great grandparents speaking about il-Ħares. This intriguing creature took many shapes and forms, most famously that of a Turkish man. It-Tork was generally a harmless creature who seemed to spend most of his time playing with children, hiding treasures and turning money into snails for those who were unfortunate enough to get on the wrong foot with him, we don’t now why, but we guess he was quite passive aggressive as a ghost.
Legend at Fort Ricasoli says that il-Ħares had shown two men the location of a treasure. The two men stupidly told everyone about the treasure, something the Ħares clearly told them not to do, as later on that night when they returned for the treasure, they only found coal. Later on during the night, in true Ħares fashion, he reappeared and gave them a good beating.
Since Fort Ricasoli isn’t creepy enough, what with people getting locked and beaten in caves nearby, now we have a vindictive ħares added to the mix too.
5. Santa Marija Tal-Virtu’
This chapel is situated in Tal-Virtu, Rabat. The walk to and around the chapel is blessed with amazing views and a silence. The chapel itself looks very mysterious and the dome holds a statue on top of it which to be honest looks quite creepy. Beneath the chapel are a number of Punic, Roman and Phoenician tombs, along with catacombs and medieval crypts. This chapel is clearly trying too hard.
The church stayed abandoned for many years and was reputed to be haunted. At least three people entered the chapel on different occasions and saw the ghost of a priest saying mass to nobody in particular. As if finding a ghost priest saying mass is not enough to creep us out, back when it was still abandoned the chapel was used and consecrated by satanists.
A number of symbols were carved on the floors and filled with molten tar so as to be permanent, crosses were turned upside down (yawn) and altars were painted black. We have to hand it to them, the satanists are quite persistent — we would never dream of carrying a pot of molten tar in the middle of the night through a field.
6. The Hypogeum
The Hypogeum is already creepy enough — the darkly-lit underground burial cave is confusing as is with the new structures installed, but can you imagine what it would be like if you had to wander around it with no structures keeping you safe and only a candle as your vision aid?
Legend has it that 30 students on a school outing disappeared along with their tour guide into the labyrinthian caves without leaving any trace behind. Search parties were sent out in vain to trace the children. It is said that they became trapped in one of the caves as it collapsed on them, however it was said that for weeks after the incident, the wailing children could be heard in different parts of Paola, without anyone ever locating them.
Another disturbing Hypogeum legend is slightly less believable, as a British embassy worker, Lois Jessup visited the Hypogeum with a group of friends in the 1930s. Jessup and company were being shown around by their tour guide — following him through a series of narrow passages.
“This is the end of the tour” said the guide but Jessup wanted to explore the caves further, even though she was warned by the guide that doing so was not a good idea. Jessup and three of her friends walked around the caves with their candles, ducking further and further into the claustrophobic passages until they came to a drop. As Jessup held her candle up to see properly, she saw a group of giant-like people beneath her walking along a narrow edge of the cave.