March 2012 Event: Maltese Township of Paola

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 Guest speaker Mrs Maria Catania

On 20 March, the Maltese Historical Association (MHA) held their monthly meeting. Mrs Maria Catania gave an interesting presentation about the Maltese township of Paola, also known as Raħal il-Ġdid.

Paola has a 5000 years’ history. At that time it was sparsely populated. The first inhabitants were the temple builders who built the Neolithic temples, the Hypogeum, and Ħal Saflieni temples.

The Phoenicians, Carthaginians and the Romans lived there too. So did the Knights of St John.  During the Great Siege of Malta in 1956, the Turks set up tents on Corradino and Tal-Borġ hills, as the area provided an elevated look-out.

Four centuries ago, the township was named ‘Casal Paola’ after the Grand Master Antoine de Paul who hunted there.

As the British built the dockyards there, the population grew. The swampy land around Paola was cleared for health reasons. At the end of the 19th Century, a newspaper dubbed the township Raħal il-Ġdid - ‘new village’.

Paola boasts of many prominent people, among them are two previous Prime Ministers, Sir Paul Boffa and Mr Dom Mintoff. Other personalities include Mgr Frangisk Xuereb, Emilio Camilleri, who started the Cana Movement, Mr Amato who was the architect of the Paola parish church, and the author Ninu Cremona.

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