Of Churches, the George Cross, and WW II Bombs on Malta

Malta is home to more than 360 churches on just 122 square miles of land. We passed by quite a few churches and domes, too many to even list any names.

During World War II, Malta was heavily bombed, having been a strategic outpost for the Allies. The bombing was so extensive that by the end of the war, Malta was considered the most-bombed nation on the planet. Later on, this title went to Laos, because of its bombing during the Vietnam War.

Quoted from Wikipedia:

The George Cross was awarded to the island of Malta by King George VI of the United Kingdom in a letter dated 15 April 1942[1] to the island’s Governor Lieutenant-General Sir William Dobbie, so as to “bear witness to the heroism and devotion of its people”[2] during the great siege it underwent in the early parts of World War II. The George Cross is woven into the Flag of Malta and can be seen wherever the flag is flown.

Dome in Mosta, Malta

Dome in Mosta

The best way to travel around the main island is by tour bus. We took the North tour one day, and the South tour the following day by double-deck buses.

Malta by bus

Touring Valetta. We had head phones to listen to the recording, but sitting on the deck of the bus, made listening very difficult during traffic.

Valetta, Malta

We got off in Birgu to take a look around for half an hour. More churches.

Birgu church

Sign in Birgu

The next bus for Birgu was supposed to come by 30 minutes later, but some Maltese have a very different attitude towards time and timing, especially compared to us Germans. Be prepared that buses sometimes are late or do not even show up, which was the case in the town of Birgu.

The bus stops are usually located in very nice areas, so waiting another 30 minutes was no problem. We were waiting in the sunshine! We watched this man throw out his fishing rod for about 40 minutes. The fish were so quickly off with his bait, it looked like he had come to feed them.

In the end, he dumped the remainder of his bait straight into the water. It was fun watching him.

fisher & bait

Touring the island by bus is great. Hotels usually sell tickets, and you also find ticket sellers at the bus stop. They are working on commission, and we overheard a feisty female Irish ticker seller arguing over customers with an elderly male Maltese. Be prepared for entertainment.

North tour: 15 euro p.p.

South tour: 17 euro p.p.

Shooting Range in the Oberursel Woods

The other day I took a little detour through the forest on my way home and came by these abandoned walls. I had seen them many times in the past, but not knowing what they were, I stopped perceiving their existence, until now.

Shooting Range Oberursel

Since 1900, this areal, sitting close to the entrance of the Oberursel-Nord forest, has been in the hands of the local gun club. In the beginning, it was used for shooting practise by a vigilante group. After the war, that same group formed the gun club as it is today.

In its early days, the shooting range used to be 300 meters, which was getting very close to the local animal shelter (still there today). Today’s range only measures about 100 meters.

These walls had been built for protection; such as for missed targets as well as reducing noise. A long-time resident also mentioned that trenches had been built  below the walls during WW II. One German resident stated it still belonged to the local Schützenverein (shooting club), but it seems without any activity.

Joggers, dog walkers, and whole families pass by there all the time. There is no sign such as Betreten verboten! (Keep off), the area is not fenced in either.

Interestingly enough, right next to it, a local kindergarden has built an out-door play center, where groups are taken to once a week.

This is a curious mix of historical remnants and  modern day-care sitting side by side in the woods.

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