In the middle of the small beautiful village Għajnsielem on the island Gozo, there is a very interesting park called Bethlehem f’Ghajnsielem.
Actually as soon as you enter Mġarr Harbour, while still aboard the ferry, you will notice some of the welcoming landmarks of the harbor village of Għajnsielem just up the hill.
The first landmark you are going to notice is beautiful Lourdes Chapel with its sharp steeple and shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes, Fort Chambrai on the left-hand side dominating the cliff-top and, more distant, the towering belfry of Għajnsielem’s Parish Church.
Bethlehem f’Ghajnsielem is located right across the Parish church and it is actually a life-size crib, constructed on 20,000 square meter (sqm) of fields on a stretch of land known as Ta’ Passi. The fields are located by the main road heading from Mġarr Harbour to Ghajnsielem, you can see it on the right side of the road.
The main entrance is right behind the Ghaqda Muzikali San Guzepp. The village comes to life during the month of December with about 150 actors taking visitors back in time to Judea of 2000 years ago.
It all started 10 years ago thanks to the several local volunteers.
This event enchanted thousands of visitors over the past two years. If you visit Malta and Gozo around Christmas and New Year you should definitely visit this place.
Your kids will love it but it is a nice entertainment for us adults too.
I visited this village on a sunny and shiny day of November. It is a nice place to visit even without the event going on.
Until a few years ago (2008) Ta’ Passi fields were an eyesore, uncultivated and abandoned, accumulating refuse.
The non-profit organizations of Għajnsielem with the full support and the financial backing of the Għajnsielem Local Council decided to take on what turned out to be a very ambitious and complex project.
In the space of a few weeks, they managed to clean up and rehabilitate the area. If you compare it with a crib we have at home, this one is larger, much larger.
The experiment turned out to be such a huge success that in the space of a month, the nativity village managed to attract tens of thousands of visitors from all over the Maltese islands.
Bethlehem f’Ghajnsielem has always managed to offer all the ingredients to offer a memorable experience where the Maltese folklore and traditions are intertwined with the Maltese crib.
Throughout these years, the event has managed to attract international attention as a top 10 worldwide destination for Christmas.
Bethlehem f’Għajnsielem offers a naturalistic reproduction of the environment of Bethlehem of 2000 years ago. On entrance, a map is given to all visitors to enhance the overall experience. Your first stop will be the bakery, because ‘Bethlehem’ means ‘House of Bread’. You will then visit several old trades such as the carpenter, Blacksmith and the fishermen.
Each dwelling is inhabited and animated by whole families, to remind everyone that Christmas is a celebration of the family.
The tavern offers local food and wine while the picnic area offers a unique surrounding for a family outing on Sundays.
Don’t forget to walk over the wooden rope bridge from where you will see
shepherds in the surrounding fields.
You can also embark on a ‘Maltese Boat’ across the river or visit the open-air market selling local fruits and vegetables.
There are also several local crafts areas and antique agricultural handmade tools.
A Roman Garrison will be patrolling the streets of Bethlehem, collecting taxes and taking the census as decreed by the Emperor, Senate and the people of Rome while several other reenactments and live events will also be taking place during the hours of animation in the Roman Arena.
Children will have the opportunity to learn all about Maltese folklore with book reading sessions or by trying one of the several ‘hands-on’ tools (see icon on map) while families can enjoy the unique surroundings of the Maltese countryside or try some local savory.
The Bethlehem village is usually open from December 9th until January 6th.
I didn’t have the opportunity to experience the real Christmas magic of the
Bethlehem of Għajnsielem this year, because I visited Gozo in November.
Therefore I shared with you a few photos that I got from the internet, so you can get a glimpse of the Christmas atmosphere along with the photos I captured.
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