Malta’s Azure Coast
An aerial shot of the south-western coast of mainland Malta displaying the sheer contrast between the deep blue Mediterranean and the golden limestone coast. The sea is so calm that the cliffs’ reflections are visible as if on a mirrored surface.
Whilst most of Malta’s western coast consists of sheer cliffs which reach up to 800 feet (250 metres) in altitude, there are places where water-carved valleys indent the coastline creating inlets and diverse geological features such as the ones in this aerial shot taken from a departing Air Malta aircraft (www.airmalta.com).
This photo features the small hamlet of Wied iz-Zurrieq (Zurrieq Valley) at the end of the winding road towards the bottom-left of the picture. The hamlet lies to the right of a flooded fjord-like valley bearing the same name, from which one can take a boat to the marvellous Blue Grotto which is visible as an arched “h”-like structure in the centre of the image. The Blue Grotto, which is actually a number of interconnected caves, is renowned for its beautiful deep azure waters which, when coupled with the morning sunlight combines to provide a brilliant show of all sorts of shades of blue. The experience is further enhanced by the brilliant phosphorescent colours of the underwater flora which inhabits the sides and depths of the caves.
To the right of the picture it is also possible to make out the canyon-like chasm of Wied Babu (Babu’s Valley) with the straight “Blue Grotto Avenue” on its side. The valley drains into the sea near the Blue Grotto and cuts deeply into the high ground flanking it on both sides. The village of Qrendi lies at the top of the image.
The name Zurrieq itself originates from the Arabic word izraq which means “azure” and there is no doubt to my mind that the azure blue referred to in the place name comes from none other than the deep blue sea which prevails in the area. So much so that the village motto is the Latin “Sic a Cyaneo Aequore Vocor”, which translates into “From the blue sea I took my name”. Take another good look at the picture and you will understand why!