In the lowlands of Marsa, Malta, which is so close to sea level that the aquifer often overflows vertically through the rock, lies a beautiful structure: a Moslem cemetery known colloquially as the Cimiterju tat-Torok, or the Turkish Cemetery. When first built, it was alone amongst the fields but it, and its later neighbour the Jewish Cemetery, have subsequently been almost completely engulfed by the development from the industrial estate nearby.
Dating back to 1873, it was designed by the eminent Maltese architect Emmanuele Luigi Galizia on commission from the Ottoman Sultan Abdűlaziz I. The cemetery is the resting place of soldiers, sailors, victims of shipwrecks in Maltese waters, residents, refugees and other Moslems who expired while in Malta.
I was recently privileged to visit this superb monument which is currently being restored through the efforts of the Turkish Government to whom the land belongs. Like all places of rest, it exudes that mixed experience of historic curiosity emanating from the details on the headstones and the stark realisation of the temporary nature of our brief sojourn on this earth.
The purpose of this short entry today is not to describe the monument. That will be the subject of a future entry, complete with photography. Rather, it focuses on the strong message forthcoming from the marble plaque commemorating its erection. A plaque, which to my mind, represents all that is nice and beautiful about diversity and co-existence.
A Moslem Cemetery designed by a Catholic Architect in a Christian Land, by order of an Ottoman Emperor, represented by his Jewish Consul.
So much to ponder from a simple seven lines of text on a marble plaque.