Comino, derived from the Maltese word Kemmuna (caraway), is the tiniest populated isle of the Maltese archipelago. The stunning piece of land is part of the municipality of Ghajnsielem. Comino is situated between the two largest Maltese islands: Malta, in the South and Gozo, in the North. The island is a 65 feet tall sea projecting plateau and about 1.1 square miles long. The coast is steep at most points, and it is riddled with numerous caves.
The construction development of Comino consists of a 95-room hotel, a police station, a small church, the Santa Marija Tower and a former quarantine station, which is home to the three permanent residents of the island. The Santa Marija Tower is now utilized by the armed forces. Administratively, Comino belongs to the community in the southeast of Ghajnsielem in Gozo.
During the summer season, the hotel operates a ferry service to ports in Mgarr and Cirkewwa. The island is also the destination of excursion boats that depart from Sliema in the summer months. At the other end of the island, there is a pig farm. Due to a veterinary medical reason, the animals have been flown in directly from Sweden in the 1990's.
The vegetation is sparse on Comino, and Aleppo pines, as well as oleander bushes, are only encountered scarcely. After wet winters, the grounds can be covered with plenty of heather; thus, solely agaves and prickly pears reach normal proportions. The island is a haven for hard grasses, such as thyme. Furthermore, Comino is a paradise for a wide variety of birds.
As in ancient times, one can still see men and women, sometimes with their entire families, work in the fields. In the north of Comino, with its barren soil, there are small flocks of goat and sheep grazing on the roadside. In Comino, one should put on his walking shoes, rent a mountain bike and follow the narrow paths of the agricultural village into unspoiled nature.
The island has an abundance of breathtaking sights to show, such as old farm houses, idyllic chapels and spectacular coastal sceneries. One must decide what attracts him the most: dramatic cliffs that drop steeply into the ocean, the scrubland of the Garrigue, or rather hidden valleys with lush vegetation? Regardless what, the route always leads to mysterious prehistoric sites, or secluded palaces of St. John.
In ancient times, the island has also been referred to as "Ephaestia". Comino has already been inhabited in the Bronze Age, and tombs from the Punic-Phoenician era have been found on the west coast. In the Middle Ages lived at times up to 200 people on the island. In that time, Comino was often a base for pirates, who found the cave-like coastal area to be a favorable hiding place.
The plunderers were driven out of the island by knights at the beginning of the 17th century. His Grand Master, Alof de Wignacourt, ordered the military architect Vittorio Cassar to build a watch tower to repel the Turks. Comino was a prison during the 16th and the 17th century, and by 1814, the British were owners of the Maltese archipelago. Shortly after that, they set up a quarantine station on Comino for seafarers.
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