A BRIEF HISTORY OF COMINO

What’s our second sister island’s story, anyway?

When people think about the Maltese Archipelago, Comino is always in the top three list. ‘No shit, Sherlock… It’s the third biggest,’ I hear you say. And ‘Elementary, Mr Watson,’ is how I would answer.

My point is that we all fuss over the Blue Lagoon, and most of us have been to a boat party or two anchored just off its shores. But what about Comino’s history? Has that ever crossed your minds?

Although still largely uninhabited – except for one or two people at most – Comino is nowadays thought of as a holiday destination where you would go to chill on the small sandy beaches, or for a weekend break at its only hotel.

However, Comino has a chequered history – one that will be surprising to many.

Since Roman times, Comino has been inhabited by farmers, some of whom were attacked by pirates who used the island’s natural cliffs and caves to stage a surprise attack. That was all the way back in the Middle Ages, but during the time of the Knights, Comino became one large hunting ground. No, they didn’t hunt for lizards, but for hares and wild boar, the former of which can still be found in small numbers on the island.

comino-santa-maria-tower

Image: St Mary’s Tower 

 

Back to the Middle Ages however, Comino was also a place where people were exiled to, with the famous prophet, Abraham Abulafia, writing the Imre Shefer while there. Then, during the time of the Knights, knights who had broken the rules would have to man the Tower, which is still there today.

Among the many landmarks on Comino, one can find many remnants of its military past, with St Mary’s Tower (built in 1416) and St Mary’s Battery (built in 1716) being the two most well known. There is also a tiny chapel dedicated to the Sacred Family Upon Its Return From Egypt – now that’s a mouthful – and obviously, the Comino Hotel.

Today, Comino is also dotted with kiosks and ice-cream vans, serving an ever-growing number of people who visit. It’s also been the set for many movies, with Troy, The Count of Monte Cristo and Swept Away all having filmed parts there.

So, if you visit Comino anytime in the future, do take a moment to appreciate this small island’s incredible past!

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Image: The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)

 

Were you surprised by any of this? Do you know anything else about Comino that hasn’t been mentioned?

Let us know in the comment section below.