Leaving the unfortunate Fontanella Tea Rooms we were pleased to see that the weather was back to its spectacular best so we walked around the streets some more and made our way to the biggest building in Mdina, St Paul’s Cathedral standing erect and proud next to a section of the old city ramparts.
It was an interesting if not especially memorable Cathedral and after a short while we returned to the honey coloured streets and resumed our search for an alternative refreshment stop. This didn’t take long and we found a tea room in a secluded courtyard which was no way near as busy as Fontanella but we soon found out that this was on account of the cakes not being anywhere near as good.
Mdina is quite small and we soon found ourselves going down the same streets as just an hour or so ago so we headed for the main gate exit and returned to the bus stop. It was ten to three and the bus was scheduled for five past. Ten past came and went, twenty past, half past, I found an inspector who suggested that it might be stuck in traffic (bus inspector’s first excuse every time I expect) and then when one did turn up it turned its destination light off and replaced it with ‘not in service’. Malta now has a seriously bad bus service so we broke a golden holiday rule and together with another equally frustrated couple reluctantly agreed to take a taxi.
Mosta Church and the Miracle of the Bomb…
The next stop was at Mosta, for no better reason than to visit the Cathedral which was built in the nineteenth century and has a dome that is among the largest in the World – in fact (and you do have to be careful about these sort of facts of course) it is the third largest in Europe and the ninth largest in the World. You can believe that or believe it not but the most remarkable thing about the Mosta Dome is the miracle of the unexploded bomb.
During the Second-World-War it is claimed that Malta was the most heavily bombed place in the World and on April 9th 1942, during an afternoon air-raid, a Luftwaffe bomb pierced the dome (two others bounced off) and fell among a congregation of more than three hundred people attending early evening mass. It did not explode. Apparently it rolled down the aisle and into the street outside so it was a good job that the doors were open!
I suspect that that part of the story may not be completely accurate and has been embellished and corrupted by the passing of time but this is the way they like to tell it. I am sceptical if only for the reason that with a bomb crashing through the roof I imagine that there would have been quite a lot of panic and congestion in the aisle as people rushed for the door. There would have been a mad dash and a tangle of bodies that would make modern day bus stop queues look like a Royal Garden Party and the bomb would be most unlikely to get through.
One version of this event states that when a bomb disposal squad opened the device it was found to be filled with sand instead of explosives and contained a note saying “greetings from Plzeň” from the workers at Škoda Works in the German-occupied Czechoslovakia who had allegedly sabotaged its production.
A nice story but not necessarily true.
To be frank there is nothing else to see in Mosta so we made our way to the bus stop and prepared for another fight to get onto the bus. Sure enough there were far more people waiting than there could possibly be available seats but eventually it arrived and somehow the driver managed to squeeze us all on board.
This was a very uncomfortable journey and it was about now that I thought that it might be appropriate to make alternative arrangements for the journey back to the airport the next day. I might be adventurous but I am not completely reckless and was not prepared to take the risk that the bus wouldn’t turn up or if it did that it would be full and wouldn’t stop or that I might lose my luggage on a chaotic journey. Back at the hotel I booked a taxi which was expensive at €30 (ten times as expensive as the bus) but was worth it for peace of mind.
It was the last evening so we took a walk to the beach, sat on the balcony and played cards and then just for a change went to our favourite restaurant in Malta. Later we went to the Limelight Lounge again to snigger at the entertainment and then we returned to the room to pack.
I had enjoyed the stay in Malta. Kim had enjoyed the stay in Malta. She said that she loved Malta and would gladly return. More Malta stories coming up then…
The story of the rolling bomb down the aisle is incredible! Do you think it’s true?
It is the way they like to tell the story but it is probably a bit that has become embellished over time. The bomb certainly pierced the dome and failed to explode and none of the 300 people inside were hurt although I imagine there would have been a bit of a rush to get out!
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It was a good prompt, I went back and edited the post! Thanks.
The whistling of the bomb would have had everyone scrambling before it even hit, don’t you think? It would have been loud because it was close, or have I watched too many movies? Interesting story, though.
It depends how loud they were singing at the time!
😀 😀 😀 I hadn’t thought of singing…
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What a great story about old church and the unexploded bomb! I’d like to think that it was a sabotaged piece of artillery. If I were a tour guide, that’s exactly how I’d tell it, too, regardless of it’s validity.
Good call on the taxi to the airport!
Every story needs a little bit of exagerration
Every story needs an element of exaggeration to help it along!
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The miracle of the bomb: “We decided we needed a way to get in the tourists but all we had was a bomb shell and a dream….”
Reblogged this on Windows into History (Reblogging and Links) and commented:
Suggested reading – a travel blog that is a mine of information. This entry brings back memories of my own trip to Malta – a fascinating island that is full of history. Reblogged on Windows into History.
sometimes a little icing makes the plainest cake very nice to eat.
I seem to have read about half a dozen different versions about the “miracle”. It seemed like it had been one bomb. Next it was two, and this note says three. This is the first mention of it rolling out the open door. I’m inclined to believe the part about it being sabotaged at the Skoda works in Czechoslovakia (because I’ part Czech) and the fact that the bomb disposal had to deal with 7000 un-exploded bombs. At first, from the British historical videos, I was under the impression that it had been during the
ineffectual Italian phase of the bombing. Now it seems like it was Luftwaffe…
I’m more willing to accept the story about the bus service they seem to contain a variety of relics and several people seemed to mention the quality of service at the restaurants
I think the bit about it rolling out ofthe door is a bit of embellishment!
I checked the date. If it is correct then this would coincide with the Luftwaffe air raids. Thanks for taking the time to comment.