A quick overview

We round off our overview of the Three Villages (check out our spotlights on Attard and Balzan) by dedicating February’s locality of the month article to the village of Lija.

Although it’s one of the smallest municipalities in Malta with a population just topping 3,000 residents, Lija can boast a long history that stretches back to prehistoric times.

Lija map
Though centrally located and heavily urbanised, Lija retains its charming old village core complete with narrow winding streets and gardens.

The village is a popular choice with people looking to settle down in peaceful and quiet surroundings that are served with all amenities.

Within its small precincts, Lija manages to squeeze in venerable villas with sprawling gardens as well as cutting-edge apartments that attract a diversity of homeowners.

History

The present village borders were drawn after Lija was given parish status in the late 16th century. Like Attard and Balzan it was previously part of Birkirkara, having broken off soon after Attard became an independent parish.

Lija used to incorporate two smaller hamlets, Ħal Bordi and Ħal Mann, in its perimeters. These were gradually integrated as the increasing pace of urbanisation encroached on the vast swathes of fields that used to demarcate the borders between these different localities.

Lija flag
The village of Lija is historically linked with citrus fruits and hosts the annual Maltese Citrus Festival. Its motto in fact is: ‘With tasty fruits I blossom’.

Over the years, Lija was the hometown for many distinguished Maltese families who built large country residences. The village’s rich history can also be appreciated in the baroque parish church which houses several important artworks and other chapels that dot the surroundings.

Another architectural landmark can be found just opposite the parish church. The Belveder is a solitary tower with nowadays serves as a roundabout, but back then used to be part of the garden of the nearby Villa Guigion Depiro.

Lija's Belveder Tower
Lija’s Belveder Tower

Main attractions

Lija is characterised by an eclectic urban feel that changes suddenly from rustic to modern in a matter of a few neighbourhoods. Narrow, winding streets snake out from the village core to merge into wide and busy thoroughfares that connect some of Malta’s largest economic centres.

Lija is best known for its famous pyrotechnics that light up the night sky during the village feast on the 6th of August. Thousands of locals and tourists visit the village during the festa season to admire the firework display and enjoy a traditional Maltese religious celebration.

Residents enjoy easy access to schools, public transport and other amenities. Thanks to Lija’s proximity to Birkirkara and Mosta, homeowners can easily reach the shopping districts in these areas. The village also boasts a number of quaint cafès and bars that can be enjoyed during the day to escape the heat or to wind down before or after an evening stroll through the quiet streets.

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