Rabat is one of the largest towns in Malta. Its importance has always been linked to the many religious sites that it has within its boundaries such as St. Paul's Grotto.
St. Paul's Grotto
This is the site where St. Paul preached to the Maltese population in A.D. 60 after he was shipwrecked on our island. As a result of this the site became a place of pilgrimage and brought importance to the town of Rabat. This is a simple place with a statue of the saint and a few pieces left by the Knights.
St. Paul's & St. Agatha's Catacombs
The burial places of early Christians these catacombs are well worth a visit. St. Agatha's catacombs are better planned than those in St. Paul but both are of great interest. Near the entrance to St. Agatha's catacombs is a crypt containing an alter and some stunning frescoes showing the Madonna, St. Paul and also St. Agatha, who is believed to have taken shelter in the crypt in AD 249.
This is the most important museum covering the Roman period in Malta. Of the many impressive pieces housed in the museum the most spectacular are the mosaic floors from the house that dates back to around 50 A.D.
Just down along the road from Buskett Gardens we come across the magnificent Verdala Palace. Grand Master Hughes de Verdalle, who ruled the knights from 1581 to 1595 and rose to the rank of a Cardinal, liked the view of Buskett Gardens from the hill above. There he built himself a three storey summer hideaway. During the French occupation of the Maltese Islands the castle was used to house French prisoners of War. Verdala Palace is now the summer residence of the President of Malta, and a guest house for visiting dignitaries.
The name sounds very English, but it’s derived from the Italian boschetto, meaning “little wood”. This is Malta’s only forest, of pines and cedars, and the greenest part of the island. Planted with citrus orchards. These woodlands at Buskett were introduced to Malta by the Knights of the Order of St John and were once used for hunting deer. It is a delightful spot.
At the end of June in Malta we celebrate one of our most popular traditional festas at Buskett – the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul in June, known locally as L-Imnarja. Large crowds congregate here from all over the island to eat rabbit, drink wine and listen to traditional folk songs. The feast was so popular in historical times that women insisted they should be taken there, and to make sure their husbands did not forget a clause to this effect was sometimes written into the marriage contract. An agricultural show is also held in Buskett at the same time and local farmers proudly display their own produce.