Xlendi is a small hamlet which forms part of the small village of Munxar, in the southwestern part of the island of Gozo. It is fascinating to see how even such a small hamlet, has so many diverse cultural and natural treasures to offer the curious traveller, be he interested in swimming, sports, archaeological remains, or simply a good restaurant and some nightlife.
Perhaps the oldest archaeological evidence of civilisation in Xlendi can be seen from the Punic Tombs, which date back to Punic-Byzantine times and traces of which remain both in Xlendi Valley, and at Saint Simon’s Point. The Romans used Xlendi as a small harbour, and in fact a number of shipwrecked vessels can still be admired by scuba-divers today along the mouth of Xlendi Bay. Traces of ancient amphorae and other remains have been found on the sea-bed.
Another historical location is Xlendi Tower, which can be seen guarding the mouth of the bay. When the Knights of the Order of Saint John were in Gozo during the 16th century, their only fortification was the Citadel or Cittadella, in Victoria. This was not close to the sea, and therefore was not of any use against a sea-attack. This was why during the next decade, the Order worked to build a number of coastal towers and other fortifications around Gozo. Xlendi Tower, built in 1650, was one of these. It was in fact the third such tower built in Gozo, and it was constructed by the Grand Master of the time, Jean Paul de Lascaris Castellar. During British rule (1800 – 1979), the tower was manned by the Royal Malta Fencible Regiment. During the Second World War (1939 – 1945), it was used as a Coast Observation Post and was manned by the Coastal Police. In 1954 the tower was leased to a private person but was eventually abandoned to decay. Thanks to the local NGO ‘Din l-Art Ħelwa’, as well as the Munxar Local Council, after several years of neglect, the tower was restored.
The salt pans in Xlendi are another location not to miss. The production of sea salt is an old tradition on the island of Gozo, and the salt pans in Xlendi, near Marsalforn Bay, are still in use today. The Xlendi salt pans were constructed in the middle of the 19th century, and there are nearly 400 of them. They are to be found in a spot called ‘Ras il-Bajda’, that is ‘White Head’. The area is very pleasant to swim in and explore, especially if you have a boat, however it is worthwhile to visit even just to see and smell the white salt drying and glistening in the morning sun.
One cannot mention Xlendi, without mentioning Xlendi Bay as well. One of the most popular and well-known bays on the island, Xlendi Bay was originally a sandy bay, however with time, currents in the valley as well as human interference caused the sand to be eroded, and it thereby became a pebbly bay. Still, its close proximity to Xlendi’s social hub which includes a number of clubs, restaurants, hotels, bars, and coffee shops, still makes it one of the most well-loved locations on the island, both by locals and tourists.
Xlendi Bay is also an important diving centre, as it offers visitors the opportunity to explore an unparalleled crystalline shore, as well as a number of ancient shipwrecks and caves along the coastline. It is also a centre for many other kinds of water sport as well, not to mention fishing and snorkelling.
In summer, Xlendi is literally packed with people holidaying on the island. The shallow waters of the bay are perfect for families with small children, or people with mobility impairments, and hiking up the cliffs is also of great interest to all nature lovers.
Truly not a place to miss!