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167 years ago, Malta experienced one of its BIGGEST earthquakes
Many buildings ended up in absolute ruin.

Emma Galea

Between 11th and 12th October 1856, Malta was awoken by one of the most violent earthquakes it has ever experienced.

The earthquake went on for an entire minute, which might not seem like a lot, but is more than enough time for the country’s infrastructure to suffer severe damage.

The earthquake’s epicentre was situated in Crete, and it registered an impressive magnitude of 8.3. This natural phenomenon led to many horrifying deaths on the Greek island.

The epicentre might have been over 1,000km away from the Maltese islands, but its impacts were still hugely felt.

Many houses in Valletta and Gozo suffered immensely as a result of the earthquake, with many buildings being left with huge cracks in their flooring.

A few historical buildings also fell victim to the Greek earthquake…

The dome of St Paul’s Cathedral in Mdina had totally collapsed, for example, as had the bell tower of the Zurrieq Parish Church.

The chapel that once stood on the islet of Filfa was also completely destroyed as a result of the earthquake.

The Filfla Chapel and the Ghajn Hadid Tower (built back in the 17th century) are a few of the structures that were never re-built following the earthquake.

Thankfully, it seems like the earthquake caused no deaths.

This was, most likely, one of the biggest earthquakes to have ever occurred in Malta. The only other earthquake that can compare to this is perhaps the one that took place in 1693.

Having said that, there isn’t enough documentation to properly determine which one was stronger.

Facebook/iz-Zurrieq u l-madwar

12th October 2023


Emma Galea
Written by
Emma Galea
Emma is a Gozitan writer who loves all things related to English literature and history. When not busy studying or writing you will either find her immersed in a fictional book or at the cinema trying to watch as many films as she possibly can!

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