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Ħaż-Żabbar Città Hompesch, Casal ZabbarŻabbar_header_cell_0_0_0

CountryŻabbar_header_cell_0_1_0 MaltaŻabbar_cell_0_1_1
RegionŻabbar_header_cell_0_2_0 South Eastern RegionŻabbar_cell_0_2_1
DistrictŻabbar_header_cell_0_3_0 Southern Harbour DistrictŻabbar_cell_0_3_1
BordersŻabbar_header_cell_0_4_0 Birgu, Cospicua, Fgura, Kalkara, Marsaskala, Xgħajra, ŻejtunŻabbar_cell_0_4_1
MayorŻabbar_header_cell_0_6_0 Jorge Grech (PL)Żabbar_cell_0_6_1
TotalŻabbar_header_cell_0_8_0 5.3 km (2.0 sq mi)Żabbar_cell_0_8_1
Population (Jan. 2019)Żabbar_header_cell_0_9_0
TotalŻabbar_header_cell_0_10_0 15,431Żabbar_cell_0_10_1
DensityŻabbar_header_cell_0_11_0 2,900/km (7,500/sq mi)Żabbar_cell_0_11_1
Demonym(s)Żabbar_header_cell_0_12_0 Żabbari (m), Żabbarija (f), Żabbarin (pl)Żabbar_cell_0_12_1
Time zoneŻabbar_header_cell_0_13_0 UTC+1 (CET)Żabbar_cell_0_13_1
Summer (DST)Żabbar_header_cell_0_14_0 UTC+2 (CEST)Żabbar_cell_0_14_1
Postal codeŻabbar_header_cell_0_15_0 ZBRŻabbar_cell_0_15_1
Dialing codeŻabbar_header_cell_0_16_0 356Żabbar_cell_0_16_1
ISO 3166 codeŻabbar_header_cell_0_17_0 MT-64Żabbar_cell_0_17_1
Patron saintŻabbar_header_cell_0_18_0 Our Lady of GracesŻabbar_cell_0_18_1
Day of festaŻabbar_header_cell_0_19_0 Sunday after 8 SeptemberŻabbar_cell_0_19_1
WebsiteŻabbar_header_cell_0_20_0 Żabbar_cell_0_20_1

Żabbar (Maltese: Ħaż-Żabbar, [ħɐzˈzɐbbɐr), also known as Città Hompesch, is a city in the South Eastern Region of Malta. Żabbar_sentence_0

It is the sixth largest city in the country, with a population of 15,404 as of March 2014. Żabbar_sentence_1

Originally a part of Żejtun, Żabbar was granted the title of Città Hompesch by the last of the Grand Masters of the Order of St. John to reign in Malta, Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim. Żabbar_sentence_2

Etymology Żabbar_section_0

The name of the city probably derives from the Maltese word tiżbor, the process of pruning trees. Żabbar_sentence_3

Indeed, a number of families who specialised in pruning, żbir, are known to have lived in the vicinity of this village during the Middle Ages. Żabbar_sentence_4

Other possibilities of this derivation exist. Żabbar_sentence_5

Żabbar was also the surname of an important family that was known to have lived in the area. Żabbar_sentence_6

Ħaż-Żabbar could also have been a corruption of Ħas-Sabbar (the consoler village), because people from all over the island used to visit the village to pray to Our Lady of Graces for consolation. Żabbar_sentence_7

The word sabbar could also be the plural of sabbara (the Aloe vera plant) in Maltese. Żabbar_sentence_8

This would be derived from the Arabic صَبّار (ṣabbār) meaning cacti. Żabbar_sentence_9

In fact, in some Arab countries ṣabbār means prickly pear. Żabbar_sentence_10

The "ṣ" in this case, is strong and is pronounced as "z". Żabbar_sentence_11

Judging by the names of other Maltese villages, like nearby Żejtun (meaning "olive" in Arabic) it seems quite probable that such names may have agricultural connotations. Żabbar_sentence_12

Demography Żabbar_section_1

Ħaż-Żabbar is bound to the north by Kalkara and Xgħajra, to the west by Fgura and the Cottonera Lines (enclosing the localities of Vittoriosa and Cospicua), to the east by Marsaskala and to the south by Żejtun. Żabbar_sentence_13

Ħaż-Żabbar has the largest population of all localities within the area. Żabbar_sentence_14

The western part of this town, composed essentially of Il-Biccieni and Tal-Bajjada (also known as Il-Misrah) areas, is characterized by high dwelling density and comprises a series of winding streets that define the village core. Żabbar_sentence_15

The eastern half is mostly suburban with more recent developments mostly in the form of terraced housing and modern maisonettes and apartments. Żabbar_sentence_16

Ħaż-Żabbar has two other distinct residential neighbourhoods namely Bulebel iz-Zghir, which is characterized by Government housing estates/ multi-storey apartment blocks and rows of terraced house units that were constructed out of various Home Ownership Schemes (HOS), and the area referred to as St. Peter's. Żabbar_sentence_17

History Żabbar_section_2

The town was used as an encampment by the Ottoman armies at the outset of the Great Siege of 1565. Żabbar_sentence_18

Ħaż-Żabbar was granted city status by the last Grand Master on Malta, Ferdinand von Hompesch, in whose name the population built a triumphal arch on the main approach road from Paola through Fgura. Żabbar_sentence_19

During the Maltese uprising against the French between 1798 and 1800 the city was used as a base by the Maltese insurgents. Żabbar_sentence_20

A memorable battle on 5th October 1798 took place in front of the Ħaż-Żabbar Sanctuary. Żabbar_sentence_21

To this day, French-era cannonballs are to be seen in a household wall in the city's older parts and some are also in the church museum after being retrieved from the old church dome. Żabbar_sentence_22

British Era Żabbar_section_3

During the British era a number of forts and batteries were built in the area. Żabbar_sentence_23

These were Fort Saint Rocco, Fort Saint Leonardo, Delle Grazie Battery and Żonqor Battery. Żabbar_sentence_24

Fort Saint Rocco was built between 1873 and 1875. Żabbar_sentence_25

It was later expanded and 3 cannons were fitted. Żabbar_sentence_26

Also, Fort Saint Leonardo was fitted with 4 cannons. Żabbar_sentence_27

These two forts took care of the neighboring seas. Żabbar_sentence_28

The two batteries also took care of the area altogether with the Rinella battery which contains the 100 ton Armstrong Gun. Żabbar_sentence_29

1951 Żabbar_section_4

A memorable date for the Żabbarin. Żabbar_sentence_30

The then Metropolitan Archbishop of Malta Michael Gonzi crowned the miraculous image of Our Lady of Grace venerated in her Sanctuary. Żabbar_sentence_31

A large crowd gathered in front of the Sanctuary on Sunday 2 September 1951. Żabbar_sentence_32

During 2001 a twelve star silver diadem was placed on it by Archbishop Joseph Mercieca, in celebration of the Golden Jubilee. Żabbar_sentence_33

Recent history Żabbar_section_5

Further information: 1975 Żabbar Avro Vulcan crash Żabbar_sentence_34

More recently, on 14 October 1975, Vulcan B. Żabbar_sentence_35 2, XM645 of No.9 Squadron RAF, exploded over the village with many parts of it falling on the school and one wing full of fuel on Sanctuary Street, the main street of the village. Żabbar_sentence_36

The children were having their break at that time and were safely evacuated by the supervising teachers and headmaster. Żabbar_sentence_37

The whole accident, which involved other parts of the city, due to the violent explosion, claimed six victims. Żabbar_sentence_38

Five of them were crew members trapped in the plane. Żabbar_sentence_39

The sixth was a civilian, who was hit by an electricity cable torn down by the falling wing. Żabbar_sentence_40

Various items (including the aircraft undercarriage) can be seen at the Żabbar Sanctuary Museum. Żabbar_sentence_41

Culture Żabbar_section_6

The city is very devout, particularly to Our Lady of Grace, to whom the city Sanctuary is dedicated. Żabbar_sentence_42

A vast number of paintings and other artefacts can be found in the Sanctuary Museum, most of which have 'VFGA' in some way or other imprinted on them. Żabbar_sentence_43

This is the Latin abbreviation for Votum Fecit, Gratiam Accipit, meaning that a grace has been asked for and it had been granted due to intercession by the Madonna tal-Grazzja (Our Lady of Grace). Żabbar_sentence_44

The paintings are about marine subjects and give large detail about ships of the Knights of Malta era. Żabbar_sentence_45

The Mattia Preti painting is found in the town's museum. Żabbar_sentence_46

The Sanctuary Żabbar_section_7

The building of the Church of Our Lady of Graces was started in 1641 at the instigation of the Parish Priest Don Francesco Piscopo and was completed around 1718 according to the commemoration plaque of the Consecration by Bishop Vincenzo Labini in 1784. Żabbar_sentence_47

A Maltese proverb says "a church is never finished", which is another way of stating that the people in a particular parish are never satisfied with their own church and, depending on their means, are forever the ambition that the church in one's village be better and bigger than the church in the next parish. Żabbar_sentence_48

The good people of Ħaż-Żabbar are no exception. Żabbar_sentence_49

Largely from the private funds of the Parish Priest Andrea Buhagiar, in addition to money collected from the people of Ħaż-Żabbar, work on embellishing the church was started in 1738. Żabbar_sentence_50

The Maltese architect Giovanni Bonavia redesigned the façade and two belltowers were erected; in addition the church was paved in marble and provided with a crypt. Żabbar_sentence_51

The main painting of the Madonna and Child is a work by the painter Alessio Erardi. Żabbar_sentence_52

Feasts Żabbar_section_8

Ħaż-Żabbar hosts a village feast on the first Sunday after 8 September, which features a motorcycle and bicycle pilgrimage each starting from Mosta and Rabat respectively. Żabbar_sentence_53

This is done because Our Lady of Grace is the patron of cyclists. Żabbar_sentence_54

Strong competition exists between the village's two band clubs, locally known as the Società Filarmonica Maria Mater Gratiæ (sporting blue and known as Tal-Baqra) and the Għaqda Madonna Tal-Grazzja Banda San Mikiel (sporting green and known as Tal-Bajda). Żabbar_sentence_55

Another feast celebrated in Ħaż-Żabbar includes St. Żabbar_sentence_56 Michael the Archangel on the third Sunday after 8 September. Żabbar_sentence_57

This feast includes a solemn mass at the Zabbar Sanctuary. Żabbar_sentence_58

During the evening a brass band march is held in the town centre. Żabbar_sentence_59

The band accompanies the statue of St. Żabbar_sentence_60 Michael the Archangel. Żabbar_sentence_61

The most sensational moment during this march is when the statue of St. Żabbar_sentence_62 Michael the Archangel passes in front of the monumental statue of Our Lady of Graces, the patron of Żabbar. Żabbar_sentence_63

A procession of Our Lady of the Rosary is also held on 7 October. Żabbar_sentence_64

Ħadd in-Nies or People's Sunday is celebrated on the first Sunday of Lent. Żabbar_sentence_65

An afternoon pilgrimage accompanied by the titular statue, having a different starting point each year, is led by the Archbishop of Malta and ends at the Our Lady of Grace Sanctuary where a pontifical mass is celebrated. Żabbar_sentence_66

Among the celebrations for this feast one can mention the Classical Music Concerts held by the two local band clubs in the Notre Dame Hall. Żabbar_sentence_67

Band Clubs Żabbar_section_9


  • Maria Mater Gratiae Philarmonic Society (Is-Soċjetà Filarmonika Marija tal-Grazzja). Founded in 1883.Żabbar_item_0_0
  • Our Lady of Graces Club - St. Michael Band (L-Għaqda Madonna tal-Grazzja - Banda San Mikiel). Founded in 1883.Żabbar_item_0_1

Holy Week Żabbar_section_10

The Maria Mater Gratiae Philarmonic Society organises an annual Holy Week exhibition held inside the club where it is situated. Żabbar_sentence_68

The exhibition, which is named Pesah, consists of :- life sized last supper, various models of the passion of the Christ, pictures made out of coloured semolina, a fretwork exhibition and other symbols which transform the whole building in an exhibition. Żabbar_sentence_69

The Għaqda Madonna Tal-Grazzja Banda San Mikiel organises an annual Holy Week exhibition. Żabbar_sentence_70

This exhibition, held inside the World War 2 Shelter in the square where the Għaqda Madonna Tal-Grazzja Banda San Mikiel club is situated, includes life size figures depicting the Passion of Christ. Żabbar_sentence_71

Attractions Żabbar_section_11


  • Żabbar Sanctuary MuseumŻabbar_item_1_2
  • Hompesch GateŻabbar_item_1_3
  • Mediatrix Place (War Memorial, Hompesch Monument and Mgr. Joseph Zarb Monument)Żabbar_item_1_4
  • Sanctuary StreetŻabbar_item_1_5
  • Saint James SquareŻabbar_item_1_6
  • Fort LeonardoŻabbar_item_1_7
  • Il-Foss football groundŻabbar_item_1_8

Other Churches Żabbar_section_12

Annunciation Church Żabbar_section_13

This chapel is situated in Main Street between the Labour Party and St.Patrick F.C. Żabbar_sentence_72

Clubs. Żabbar_sentence_73

It is dedicated to the Annunciation. Żabbar_sentence_74

Santa Marija Chapel Żabbar_section_14

Main article: Santa Marija Chapel Żabbar_sentence_75

Dedicated to the Assumption of Mary, this chapel is found in one of the oldest quarters of Ħaż-Żabbar. Żabbar_sentence_76

A painting on the altar shows Mary being transported into Heaven with her body and soul united. Żabbar_sentence_77

A very nice statue of Our Lady of Sorrows is found in this chapel. Żabbar_sentence_78

Holy Cross Church Żabbar_section_15

This church was inaugurated in 1993 to serve the growing community in the most modern part of Ħaż-Żabbar. Żabbar_sentence_79

The area where the Holy Cross Church is situated is known as Sant' Andrija (St. Andrew's) Żabbar_sentence_80

Maria Bambina Centre Żabbar_section_16

This is used for the teaching of Catechism and Mass on certain days of the week. Żabbar_sentence_81

Saint Andrew Church Żabbar_section_17

Built in the 15th century this chapel is found next to Santa Domenica Church. Żabbar_sentence_82

Nowadays it is used, together with Santa Domenica Church, as the headquarters of the local scout group. Żabbar_sentence_83

Santa Domenica Church Żabbar_section_18

This was rebuilt in 1954 after being damaged during World War 2. Żabbar_sentence_84

Together with Saint Andrew's Church, Santa Domenica Church is nowadays used as part of the local scout group's headquarters. Żabbar_sentence_85

Our Lady of Mercy Church Żabbar_section_19

This chapel is found in the town's cemetery. Żabbar_sentence_86

It is used for funeral services and for mass. Żabbar_sentence_87

Our Lady of the Pillar Church Żabbar_section_20

This is a very small church. Żabbar_sentence_88

In 1585 Ġuzeppi Testaferrata donated money and helped to organise the feast dedicated to Our Lady. Żabbar_sentence_89

Currently the chapel is not being used. Żabbar_sentence_90

Local Council Żabbar_section_21

The current local council members are: Żabbar_sentence_91


  • Quinton Scerri (mayor, PL)Żabbar_item_2_9
  • Domenic Agius (PL)Żabbar_item_2_10
  • Mark Grech (PL)Żabbar_item_2_11
  • John Pace (PL)Żabbar_item_2_12
  • Joseph Agius (PL)Żabbar_item_2_13
  • Marc Vella Bonnici (PL)Żabbar_item_2_14
  • Joseph Vella (PL)Żabbar_item_2_15
  • Joseph Bonnici (PL)Żabbar_item_2_16
  • Joseph Buttigieg (PN)Żabbar_item_2_17
  • Brian Spiteri (PN)Żabbar_item_2_18
  • Anna Calleja (PN)Żabbar_item_2_19

Twin towns – sister cities Żabbar_section_22

See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Malta Żabbar_sentence_92

Żabbar is twinned with: Żabbar_sentence_93


The Council was officially invited to Villabate when Dr. Fina, as a Comissario Straordinario, was responsible for the running of the day-to-day business. Żabbar_sentence_94

The invitation was the result of an annual reciprocal activity with regard to the Onorificenza Cittadino Del Anno. Żabbar_sentence_95

This commitment is now being honoured on a reciprocal basis. Żabbar_sentence_96

Besides the Twinning with Villabate the Council also has a Partnership Agreement with two other European towns, Montgeron and Povoa' de Varzim. Żabbar_sentence_97

The Partnership Agreement was signed in July 2001 during the International Youth Summer Camp organised by Ħaż-Żabbar. Żabbar_sentence_98

Sports Żabbar_section_23

Ħaż-Żabbar's main football team is Zabbar St. Patrick FC. Żabbar_sentence_99 , including St. Patrick's Nursery FC. Żabbar_sentence_100

There are two amateur football teams in the town, and these are Ħaż-Żabbar Crystal Blues and Ħaż-Żabbar Athletics. Żabbar_sentence_101

Other sports clubs include Ħaż-Żabbar Shooting Club, Ħaż-Żabbar Boċċi Club, St Peters Boċċi Club, Ħaż-Żabbar Subbuteo Club, Zabbar Chievo Futsal Club and Ħaż-Żabbar Amateur Racing Club. Żabbar_sentence_102

Personalities Żabbar_section_24

President of Malta Agatha Barbara (d.2002) Żabbar_sentence_103

Bishop Mons. Żabbar_sentence_104

Paolo Darmanin Żabbar_sentence_105

Politicians Dr Giuseppe Agius Muscat (d. 1951) Renato Agius Muscat (d. 2011) Dr Francis Agius, Espedito Catania (d. 1985) Dr Elena Dalli Dr Josie Muscat Alfred Portelli Leli Tabone (d. 1980) Żabbar_sentence_106

Former Parish Priest Mons. Żabbar_sentence_107

Joseph Zarb (d. 1985) Żabbar_sentence_108

Writers Karmenu Ellul Galea (d. 2007) Dr Carmel Mallia Prof. Daniel Massa Achille Mizzi Alfred Palma George Peresso P. Mattew Sultana (d. 1986) Żabbar_sentence_109

Educationist Dr Frans Chetcuti (d. 1983), Żabbar_sentence_110

Footballer Clayton Failla (national team; ex St Patrick's FC) Żabbar_sentence_111

TV Presenters Quinton Scerri (TVM) Żabbar_sentence_112

Newscasters Keith Demicoli (TVM) Fabian Demicoli (NET) Żabbar_sentence_113

Musicians Mro John. Żabbar_sentence_114

J. Pace Mro Wiġi Bongailas (d. 1985) Marvic Monreal (mezzo-soprano) Żabbar_sentence_115

Artists William Azzopardi (watercolourist) Mario Portelli (illustrator) James Vella Clark (landscape, abstract) Żabbar_sentence_116

Radio stations Żabbar_section_25


  • Radju Hompesch (90 FM). Owned by Gordon Caruana in Ħaż-ŻabbarŻabbar_item_4_22
  • Radju MMG FM (97.5 FM). Ħaż-ŻabbarŻabbar_item_4_23
  • TRN Radio. Owned by Tony Cilia in Ħaż-ŻabbarŻabbar_item_4_24

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Żabbar.