Manoel Island is Malta’s tragic gem. Manoel Island was closed to the public for sixteen years and just opened in 2016 after protests. MIDI, a private building company, bought off the whole of Manoel Island and blocked access to the public for planned development. MIDI’s development plans include (these plans still hold today) a boutique hotel, residence and casino. Thankfully, they never had the chance to build any of this… yet. Building a casino and whatever extra fluff on Manoel Island is truly unfathomable at a location that should be saved as a world heritage site.
The area around Manoel Island – Gzira and neighbouring Sliema – have been overdeveloped and overpopulated. There are very few parks, open spaces and limited access to swimming for Gzira residents.
Just last year in 2016, the people of Gzira protested. Protestors alongside the mayor of Gzira epically cut through the fencing and their protests were heard. MIDI finally opened Manoel Island to the public after sixteen long years (but just on the weekends from 8am-8pm).
We couldn’t wait to explore this lush green beauty and see the medieval fortifications that have stood for years (and I have to mention here, starred in Game of Thrones) up close. Little did we know that the public is not allowed to explore the fort area and is restricted to the path and foreshore. Nevertheless, the accessible areas of Manoel Island are a truly beautiful piece of Malta.
With little open space paired with overdevelopment casting a shadow over Malta, Manoel Island is a necessary haven. Here’s to hoping that casino never happens and Manoel Island is turned into a very much needed national park for all to enjoy. Every day of the week.