The view from the southwest coast of the island is almost the same from every spot at this area. Basically all what you see is the endless Mediterranean Sea. But there is something else in that view, an island in the middle of nowhere really close to the main island.
I have been visiting these places several times lately, but the last time it really turned my brain on and made me think what this mysterious place can be? I decided to make a small research about the island (now I know) called Filfla.
Filfla is a tiny, barren, uninhabited island. Better to say islet. It is a most southerly part of the Maltese islands, approximately 5 kilometers down from Dingli. Next to Filfla there is even a smaller islet, Filfoletta. It is quite interesting, but its name comes from the word “filfel”, which means “peppercorn” in Arabic. God knows why they named it after pepper. 🙂
Size-wise it is only 6 hectares big with a flat limestone plateau, surrounded by 60 meters high cliffs. Thousands of year ago it was attached to the main island, then the Magħlaq geomorphological fault formed the islet and the nearby rocks. The only structure on the island was a small chapel built in a cave by local fisherman in 1343, dedicated to the Assumption of Our Lady. Unfortunately in 1856 the island was hit by a strong earthquake and half of the islet perished under the sea. This natural disaster included destroying the chapel as well.
Until 1971 Filfla was used by the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force for target practice. Bombing between 1945 and 1972 reduced its size and caused a big damage to wildlife and changed the physical makeup of the island. That is why Filfla today is a nature reserve, home of various plants and animals, protected by the Maltese law since 1980. It is an important breeding and roosting site for seabirds. Three species of bird are known on the island: European Storm Petrel, Cory’s Shearwater and the Yellow-legged Gull.
Since 1988 the access to the island has been strictly prohibited to not to disturb birds and their nests and to protect the natural wildlife on the islet. Fishing is also prohibited within a mile around the island due to the possibility of encountering unexploded ordnance. For visiting the island now you need permission and only researchers and scientists can enter. Visitors must get permission from the Ministry for the Environment.
So when you are in the South West of Malta, don’t forget to take a look at Filfla, which is the only place in Malta untouched by man. Watching from the cliffs you may think it is incredibly close, however it is so unattainable and far away. The fact that you can’t visit and discover the place is only makes you wondering how it can look like and awakens more curiosity in your head. Filfla is definitely a mystical and mysterious island which fascinates me a lot, while the scenery around it is simply breathtaking. It makes the sunrises and sunset even more beautiful for sure.
This is a picture I made from Blue Grotto and I am very proud of it!