About Sliema

Sliema is a large inhabited area situated on the east coast of Malta, just 0.5km away from Valletta (by sea) and surrounded mostly by sea. One can enjoy views of neighbouring St Julian’s as well as the magnificent fortifications and high church-tops that form part of Valletta. The population of Sliema is currently reputed to be 15,000, but this number is continuously on the rise due to Sliema’s popularity.

In the 18th century, Sliema was still a small village overlooking the Sliema Harbour. Ships entering the harbour would recite the Hail Mary upon seeing Stella Maris Church. The prayer, which begins ‘Sliem Ghalik’ (‘peace with you’) is believed to have led to the current name of Sliema – ‘Sliem’, meaning ‘peace’. According to old documents, Sliema was previously known as Qortin, named after a small church on the headland called Our Lady of Qortin. It wasn’t until the middle of the 19th century that the village was renamed to Sliema. In 1903, it was requested to have the name changed to “Edward Town”, in honour of King Edward VII who was paying a visit to Malta, however this idea was rejected.

A History of Sliema

In 1565, Sliema served as a camp centre for the Turkish troops until their leader, Dragut, was mortally wounded by a bombardment from Fort St Elmo. In the late 18th century, the Knights of St John developed Fort Tigné, and, in later year, it was further developed by the British.

The village grew into a town when Stella Maris Church was built in 1855. By 1885, the population of Sliema had grown so much that Stella Maris Church was declared a parish, and was separated from St Helen’s Church of Birkirkara. Many wealthier people purchased residences in Sliema as a summer resort, and this led to the town growing continuously – with townhouses and villas being found amongst the quieter streets. Many of these are still here today, however the number is constantly diminishing along the coastline due to the development of several apartments.

In 1990, an abandoned farm along the Sliema coastline was transformed in a public garden – which we know today as Gnien Indipendenza (Independence Garden).

Churches

Since Malta is a Catholic country, each village and city offers an abundance of churches – and Sliema is no exception. There are no fewer than seven churches and chapels scattered throughout Sliema, with most celebrating feasts during particular times of the year.

Jesus of Nazareth Church was built in 1895, but it was only in 1973 that it became a parish. The Church celebrates its feast on the first Sunday of July of year, along with Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. This church became a parish much earlier than the Jesus of Nazareth Church, with documents showing this occurring in 1918, despite having been built 46 years earlier. A couple of weeks after the town celebrates the feasts of these two churches, they celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel – on the last Sunday of July. This church is often referred to as Balluta Bay Church due to its location on the picturesque bay.

Stella Maris Church is the oldest Catholic Church within Sliema, and therefore the mother church. The Church was originally built to cater for the ever-growing population of Sliema as Our Lady of Divine Grace was no longer coping. In fact, both churches are situated almost across from each other. The feast of Stella Maris is celebrated on the first Sunday after the 18th August.

Other churches found in Sliema include St Gregory the Great, celebrating their feast on the first Sunday of September, Holy Trinity Church and St Patrick’s Church.

Beaches

As Sliema is surrounded by sea, there is a large choice of rocky beaches available for locals and foreigners alike. Situated just off Tower Road, and exactly beneath the tower, is Exiles Beach Club -offering panoramic views of St Julian’s. Further down the coastline is Surfside – a large stretch of rocky beach where pools have also been cut into the rock to cater for young children. The Sliema Aquatic Sports Club, although primarily serving as a water-polo pitch, is another option. Regardless of which beach one decides to visit, Sliema has an abundance of sun and sea.

Zones

Sliema has been said to be ‘split’ into several zones. You may find people referring to Malta’s busy shopping centre as ‘The Strand’ or the ‘Ferries’. The tip of Sliema is well-known as Tigné, which is only a stone’s throw away from Fortina. Other zones include Ghar id-Dud, Qui-si-Sana, Savoy and Font Ghadir.

Shopping in Sliema

Sliema is well-known for the wide range of options when it comes to shopping, regardless of whether you’re looking for the latest fashion or simply hunting for a good bargain. The shops are grouped along Tower Road in Sliema, with a few found amongst the side streets. Shopping in Sliema has become so popular that Bisazza Street – a street with an abundance of shops – was closed off to traffic and pedestrianised in June 2011. Situated in this street is one of the two shopping malls found in Sliema: the Plaza Shopping Centre. This mall has over 30 retail outlets split over 4 storeys, including fashion, perfumeries, hair-dressing and accessory shops. Just 0.5km away, one finds The Point Shopping Mall, which opened its doors to the public in March 2010 and is home to over 50 retail outlets. The Point is an estimated 14,000m², making it one of Malta’s biggest shopping destinations. The car park, like the mall, is spread over four storeys – three of which are underground. Several cafes and restaurants may be found inside the mall, in the Piazza and along the complex grounds, offering shoppers a break from their spree.

Restaurants

Malta has absorbed several cultures throughout the years, making the wide choice of restaurants hardly surprising. A brief walk along the coastline will immediately show a few of the preferred spots: Ta’ Kolina remains a favourite among tourists and locals alike as their menu includes a wide choice of traditional Maltese dishes. Cuccagna is found just around the corner and are renowned for their pizzas. Another popular restaurant is Vino Veritas – situated at the bottom of Dingli Street – where they specialise in homemade pasta, pizza, salad and grills. Sushi fans will be more than happy after dining at Sakura – found within the Preluna Hotel – where they are best known for their Japanese cuisine. When it comes to Maltese dishes, Ta’ Kris is regarded as a favourite, and can be found in a quaint alley just a stone’s throw away from Bisazza Street. There are several other restaurants throughout the town, not to mention an abundance of fast food restaurants scattered throughout.

Hotels / Residence in Sliema

As Sliema is one of the more popular towns within Malta, many visitors tend to prefer seeking residence here, be it in a hotel or a rented apartment. With no fewer than 19 hotels, Sliema is well-equipped to cater for this influx of people. Below is a list of hotels founds within Sliema. Should you be seeking to rent a residence, be sure to contact us and we will source something better suited to your requirements.

• The Palace Hotel, High Street

• The Preluna, Tower Road

• Diplomat Hotel, Tower Road

• Park Hotel, Graham Street

• Sliema Chalet Hotel, Tower Road

• Imperial Hotel, Rudolph Street

• Victoria Hotel, Gorg Borg Olivier Street

• Plevna Hotel, Triq Thornton

• Hotel Roma, Triq Ghar il-Lembi

• Tower Palace, Tower Road

• Rocca Nettuno Suites, Triq Mattew Pulis

• Carlton Hotel, Tower Road

• Day’s Inn Hotel, Cathedral Street

• Europa Hotel, Tower Road

• Hotel Fortina, Triq ix-Xatt

• Plaza Hotel, Tower Road

• Roosendaal Hotel, Triq Hughes Hallet

• Stones Hotels, Tower Road

• Marina Hotel, Triq ix-Xatt

Places of Interest / Hotspots

As the name implies, Sliema is a peaceful town and offers several relaxing hotspots, not least of which would be the promenade along the coastline. In the morning, the promenade offers views of the sun rising, making it a popular site for joggers. However, it remains popular throughout the day as several families take to the promenade for a stroll. The views remain spectacular all along the promenade – one may view St Julian’s, Sliema, Valletta or, of course, the sea – from the coast up to the horizon.

Situated just along the promenade is the Independence Garden (‘Gnien Indipendenza’). The gardens are extremely scenic and include a children’s playground on one end. Fountains and benches have been set up to further instil a peaceful scene. Another children’s playground is found just a stone’s throw away from the garden, beneath the de Redin Tower.

St Anne’s Square is also quite popular in Malta, most especially among foreigners. The square is situated in the midst of the cluster of shops along the Sliema ferries and was previously occupied by a kiosk. The kiosk was demolished and, by June 2009, St Anne’s Square was returned to its former glory. The square now boasts unobstructed views of the façade of the Majestic Theatre.

Another building worth mentioning would be that of St James Hospital, found in a side street just off the coast of Sliema. The hospital first operated under the name of Capua Hospital as the building formed part of the historical Capua Palace building. It was renamed to St James Hospital when it was taken over by the St James Hospital Group in 2002. The hospital is considered one of the top private healthcare organisations on the Maltese islands, caters for 80 patients and includes an eye clinic. Expert service is provided in detail – to the point where several rooms face seaward. Many doctors have taken to holding private consultations within the hospital.