Luqa Briffa Gardens known in Żejtun as Ġnien tal-Kmand is situated in the vicinity of the old parish church of Saint Gregory which is dedicated to Saint Catherine, the patron saint of Żejtun.
Kmand which is short for Kmandant means Lieutenant. In fact the garden was built in 1802 and commissioned by the British High Commissioner Alexander Ball and was given as a gift to the leading representative of Żejtun, Ġuzè Abela, in recognition of the villagers’ participation in the revolt against the French. It served for administrative and embellishment purposes.
On the façade of this garden above the main door there is an escutcheon sculpted by Dimech with the royal cypher of King George III of England (the first English King of Malta) and an inscription reminding us of the reason why the garden was built. In the beginning of the century a number of gardens were built around Malta to embellish it. They were designed by Żejtun architect Mikiel Cachia. Besides that of Żejtun we find that of Qrendi, Mqabba, Għaxaq, Gudja, Għargħur, Safi (known as il-Ġnien ta' Ball) and Lija. It is believed that there were other gardens that no longer exist. This garden was designed by Mikiel Cachia on Italian lines and embellished by a diverse selection of trees and plants. It helped to improve horticulture in Malta, in fact it became known as Giardino Botanico.
The garden was renamed several times, it was called Ġnien Luqa Briffa after the Maltese Hero of the Great Siege of 1565. In 1999 the Town Council decided to give it the name of Ġnien Mikiel Cachia (1760-1800) after Mikiel Cachia who was an architect, a patriot and one of the Maltese leaders who fought the French between 1798-1800. Cachia (1760-1839) was an architect during the rule of the Knights of Malta and during that of the British.
As time went by another garden Ġnien San Girgor, Żejtun’s biggest garden was built adjoining this garden, and embellished by the Żejtun Local Council. In fact it has an open theatre, a sports centre and the regional tribunal. A monument to folklore singer Frans Baldacchino known as il-Budaj was erected in it.
Both gardens are freely accessible for the public to enjoy.
Author: Paul Zammit
Translation by: Angela Spiteri