The Site of Is-Simblija is a medieval hamlet of rural dwellings on the edge of a cliff, above a fertile valley called Wied Hażrun. It is a cluster of complexes consisting of caves. More recent structures were built between 1718 and 1720. The Medieval area consists fo a derelict church referred to in ecclesiastical documents as Sta. Maria ta’ Callus – discovered recently by Professor Blondy of Sorbonne University – a mill room, and cooking area around a courtyard. The mill was operated by a Sienja tal-Miexi – (rotating wheels driven by a blindfolded beast). The beasts normally resided in an adjacent cave. The mill was still in use up to the early 20th century.
Reproductions of two old maps have been placed on site. One of these maps originally indicated crown properties. It states that in the area there used to be two fresh-water springs, three reservoirs, an artisian well, a cistern and several water channels that distributed water along the valley. This historic site was required by the Knights of St. John during the early part of the 16th century. It was eventually passed on to the Venerable Assembly of Conventual’s Chaplains of the Order, the Veneranda Assemblea. It is probably from this last world that the name Is-Simblija was derived.
The site is in a good state of preservation due to its remote access in the countryside. It was rehabilitated by the Restoration Unit of the Public Works, under the auspices of the Minister for Resources and Infrastructure. The project was assisted by European Union funds allocated for the preservation of historic sites, and inaugurated on 9th February 2003. It is currently being co-managed by MRRA and Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna.
Author: Karistu Abela
Source/s: Dingli Local Council Website