Żabbar (Maltese: Città Hompesch or Żabbar) is the fourth largest town in Malta, with a population of 14,694 (November 2005). Originally a part of Żejtun, Żabbar was granted the title of Città Hompesch by the last of the Grandmasters of the Knights of St. John to reign in Malta, Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim. The Grandmaster gave his surname to the city, which is still known (in honorem) as Città Hompesch.

Origins of the Name

The name of the city probably derives from the Maltese word 'niżbor', the process of pruning trees. Indeed, a number of families who specialised in żbir, this process, are known to have lived in the vicinity of this village during the Middle Ages. Other possibilities of this derivation exist. Among these there is Zabbar being the surname of an important family living in the area or else Ħaż-Żabbar being a corruption of Ħas-Sabbar (the consoler village) because people from around the island used to visit the village to pray its patron, Our Lady of Graces, for console.


After the French occupation of Malta, the Maltese populace in general soon became wary of their rulers and couped, deposing them. A memorable battle took place in front of the Żabbar Sanctuary. To this day, French-era cannon-balls are to be seen in household walls in the city's older parts and some are also in the church museum after being retrieved from the old church dome.

During the British era a number of forts and batteries were built in the area. These were Fort St Rocco, Fort St Leonardo, Delle Grazie Battery and Zonqor Battery.

Fort St Rocco was built between 1873 and 1875. It was later expanded and 3 cannons were fitted. Also, Fort St leonardo was fitted with 4 cannons. These two forts took care of the neighboring seas.

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

Recent History

More recently, on October 14, 1975 Vulcan B. 2, XM645 of No.9 Squadron RAF Wadington, the last of the great 'Graces' came over Żabbar, when an Avro Vulcan (a military aircraft) exploded over the village with many parts of it falling on the school and one wing full of fuel fell in Sanctuary Street, the main street of the village. Fortunately the children were having their break at that time and no one was in the school (at that time the pupils went home to have their break and then returned to school). The whole accident, which involved other parts of the city, due to the violent explosion, claimed just one victim, who unluckily was hit by an electricity cable which was torn down by the falling aircraft wing. Various items (including the aircraft an undercarriage) can be seen at the city museum.


The city is very devout, particularly to Our Lady of Grace, to whom the city Sanctuary is dedicated. A vast number of paintings and other artefacts can be found in the village church museum, most of which have 'VFGA' in some way or other imprinted on them. 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). These paintings are one of the largest votive paintings called Ex-Votos collection, about marine subjects and give large detail about ships of the Knights of Malta era. The Mattia Preti painting, found in the town's museum, is a particularly beautiful and invaluable painting.

Żabbar is famous for its village feast on the first Sunday after the 8 September, which features a motorcycle and bicycle pilgrimage each starting from Mosta and Rabat respectively. This is done because Our Lady Of Graces is the patron of cyclists. Strong competition exists between the village's two band clubs, locally known as the Società Filarmonica Maria Mater Gratiæ (the Blues) and the Għaqda Madonna Tal-Grazzja Banda San Mikiel (the Greens).

This is the birthplace of up and coming vocalist Graziana Axisa.

Band Clubs

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


Żabbar's main football team is St. Patrick's FC.


Amongst the people who came from the village are the former President, Agatha Barbara, Dr. Frans Chetcuti, an education officer, and Fredu Abela, also known as il-Bamboċċu, a maltese folk singer.


Due to its ever increasing population (which has more than doubled over the past two decades), a new pastoral zone, known as St. Andrew's, has developed at Żabbar. Moreover, its outlying coastal hamlet, Xgħajra, which only 30 years ago had less than 150 residents, now has a population which is close to 1,000 and it has been hived off Żabbar and become a local council in itself. Marsaskala, or Wied il-Għajn, a bustling seaside town, to the south of Żabbar and formerly a fishing village, once also formed part of Żabbar.

Radios Station

  • Radju Hompesch (90 FM) owned by Gordon Caruana in Zabbar
  • Radju MMG FM (97.5 FM) Zabbar tar-radju tas-Soċjetà MMG FM

Żabbar Main Roads

  • Misraħ Medjatriċi (Mediatrice Square)
  • Triq Bormla (Cospicua Road)
  • Triq Hompesch (Hompesch Street)
  • Triq il-Kbira (Main Street)
  • Triq il-Kunsill ta' l-Ewropa (European Council Street)
  • Triq il-Kunvent (Convent Street)
  • Triq il-Lunzjata (Annuciation Street)
  • Triq il-Mina ta' Hompesch (Hompesch Arch Street)
  • Triq is-Santwarju (Sanctuary Street)
  • Triq ix-Xagħjra (Xagħjra Road)
  • Triq P.Muscat Inglott (Muscat Inglott Street)
  • Triq San Leonardu (St. Leonard Street)
  • Triq Sant' Antnin (St. Anthony Street)
  • Triq Santa Duminka (St. Domenica Street)
  • Triq tal-Labour (Labour Road)
  • Triq Villabate (Villabate Street)
  • Triq Wied il-Għajn (Marsaskala Road)

External links


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