Maltese's toponymy

Publié le 17/03/2011

Sometimes people do not find on a map of Malta the place of origin of an ancestor, as they have found a certificate. In fact, some places have two names. Thus, the Three Cities, The Three Cities : Vittoriosa, Cospicua and Senglea. These three localities are now an agglomeration, but their local councils and parishes are separate. All three cities called The Cottonera because it is the Grand Master Nicolas Cottoner y de Oleza, Knights of St. John, who fortified.

The Cottonera

The former name of Vittoriosa is Birgu and Maltese use this name; Vittoriosa was the nickname given to this ancient city, after its successful resistance against the Turkish siege in 1565.

The former name of Cospicua is Bormla but when the city was embellished, it is nicknamed The Beautiful : Cospicua. Maltese always say Bormla. Similarly, they always say Lisla for Senglea known as the Grand Master for Claude de La Sengle who lived there.

Mdina, the former capital was nicknamed Noble city by the first Knights. It is sometimes found under the name of Citta Notabile in some papers.


Qormi is also called Pinto, named a Grand Master, Pinto de Fonseca..

And Zebbug was at one time called Rohan, to the Grand Master of the name. This is Zebbug of Malta and not Gozo not.

The last of the Grand Masters, Hompesch, baptized by his name the city of Zabbar.

Siggiewi was also called Ferdinand and Zejtun, Beland. I do not know who were Ferdinand and Beland.

Floriana was with the nickname Borgo Vilhena, another Grand Master.

Some names are preceded by Hal or Haz, as Haz-Zabbar, or Hal-Ljja, is an abbreviation of rahal or casale, village, the first in Maltese, the second in Italian.

Gozo is the name the Spanish gave to the sister island, a word which means joyful. But the Maltese still call Ghawdex, pronounced a-ou-dè-che, and Gozitans are a-ou-tchi, meaning of the name Gauci.

The main town of Gozo is Victoria since the jubilee of Queen Victoria, but Maltese and Gozitans still call Rabat ; not to be confused with Rabat of Malta.

Victoria Rabat, Gozo

We call the capital La Valette, in French, Maltese say: Valletta and between them, Il-Belt, the City.

If you write there, they would hit you indicate: Valletta, and even more so after Malta, you add G.C., the initials of the George Cross by which George VI awarded the island for his bravery during the last war.

Published withe the courtesy of Aurore VERIÉ

Source : No. 92 - 4th quarter 2005 - Généalogie Algérie Maroc Tunisie

  1. Ile de Malte
  2. Ile de Gozo
  3. Lost villages in Malta, John CILIA LA CORTE
  4. Maltese's toponymy, Aurore Verié