The country with a ‘bloody’ history perfect for dark tourism | World | News by StuffsEarth

Estimated read time 10 min read

Malta is a holiday destination adored by British tourists for its year-round sunny climate, breathtaking landscapes and lively nightlife.

But within its history, there are some “very bloody” episodes, making it an attractive destination for holidaymakers interested in what has become known as “dark tourism”, a local guide and former BBC journalist said.

This branch of tourism, which is becoming increasingly popular, involves visiting morbid landmarks or areas linked to death and human suffering.

Mario Cacciottolo, tour guide at Dark Malta Tours, told “Malta has a rich history, and if you look a little closer then you’ll soon realise how its story is very bloody at times. There have been sieges, organised tortures and executions, witchcraft trials and violent murders taking place over many centuries.

“All of this was meticulously recorded by the state, the courts, the Catholic Church or in letters and diaries, giving today’s researchers a vast amount of material to draw upon. So if you’re looking for horrible histories that are reassuringly distant yet fascinating in a shocking way, then Malta should be your next holiday destination.”

Mr Cacciottolo, who has personally poured through rare books and archives to uncover dark and strange episodes in the history of the Mediterranean archipelago, picked three unmissable areas of interest for those who want to explore “dark Malta”.

The first, he said, is St Paul’s Catacombs. A visit to these burial chambers dating back to the Early Christianity period, Mr Cacciottolo said, “takes you into the realm of the dead”.

Visiting the locations where the bloodiest battles were fought during the nearly four-month-long Great Siege of Malta in 1565 is another experience recommended by the expert guide.

Speaking about a final topic in Maltese history that should be explored by those passionate about dark tourism, the guide said: “There were once many witchcraft trials held in Malta. These proceedings were to censure those who practised love magic, or magical healing, or spells to trap demons into rings so that you could win at gambling, that kind of thing.

“We know a great deal about those who cast magic, usually slaves and poor women, and what the spells consisted of exactly, thanks to the records kept by the Roman Inquisition.”

The tribunal system created by the Holy See of the Catholic Church in the 16th century was more lenient than its Spanish counterpart, Mr Cacciottolo explained, which meant the women convicted weren’t executed but told to “seek forgiveness” from the church or imprisoned if they were repeat offenders.

Mr Cacciottolo, who leads a series of walking tours across Malta, said his research has helped him discover several unknown and dark aspects of the country.

Asked which one shocked him the most, he said: “The fact that violence towards women has been around forever. It just keeps coming up in my research – as it would in any country, frankly, because it’s sadly an issue around the world.”

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