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A Legacy in Stone

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Gozo’s honey coloured globigerina limestone is one aspect of Gozo’s identity that cannot be overlooked.  If one walks through the Gozitan villages and ignores the local houses, some of them displaying decorative motifs and sculpture, one cannot avoid the churches and edifices that have been constructed using this stone.

Here we look at some interesting facts associated with globigerina limestone:

  1. Gozo’s globigerina limestone is somewhat different in colour to the type found in Malta in the sense that it has the honey tinge that the stark white Maltese stone does not. Globigerina limestone is quarried in San Lawrenz and Dwejra areas but in earlier days, Gozo had other quarries such as at Ta’ Sannat.  Today many of these old quarries are used as farms or fields.
Quarry in Gozo , limestone
Quarry in Gozo
  1. This particular stone, which was formed from the microscopic remains of deep-sea organisms, is considered a soft stone and is thus easier to quarry and work with. From big projects like churches and domes to smaller and minute decorative accents and figurines, the stone has served the local builders, craftsmen and sculptures well. The earlier works in stone sculpture in Gozo were mainly associated with décor in churches. The introduction to decorate private dwellings  started around the 1950s  and developed to include  intricate structures like balustrades, columns, accent arches and so on.

    Stone sculpture at Ta' Pinu Shrine, limestone
    Stone sculpture at Ta’ Pinu Shrine
  2. If you want to be enthralled by the beauty and dimension of the local stone, then a visit to the Rotunda in Xewkija and Ta’ Pinu Marian Shrine in Għarb is a must. Once you visit the Rotunda, have a look at the old church that was dismantled and rebuilt in the sacristy of the new Rotunda. The stonework of the old church is amazing just like the Rotunda itself.   The Ta’ Pinu shrine is another masterpiece in construction and superb stone sculpture.
The Rotunda Church in Xewkija, limestone
The Rotunda Church in Xewkija

  Nature must be the sculptor per excellence.  A quick look at the shores and coastal areas where limestone is found on the upper surface will reveal erosion that has chiselled away at the cliff edges creating gentle slopes and landscapes that have captured the imagination of many!

 

Gentle and curved slopes - the result of erosion in the coastal area of Xlendi, limestone
Gentle and curved slopes – the result of erosion in the coastal area of Xlendi
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