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POI: 35.924069, 14.453372
Għargħur (Maltese: Ħal Għargħur) is a village in the Northern Region of Malta. It is situated on a hilltop between two valleys, and it has a population of 2,768 as of March 2014. Its coat of arms is a red star over a red triangle on a silver shield with the motto 'Excelsior' which means 'The Highest'. This motto indicates the fact that this town is geographically one of the highest in Malta. In his Lexicon Melitense (Maltese Dictionary) of 1796, Vassalli gives this description of Għargħur: "Ħal *RGĦ*ar*RGĦ*ur, it. Gregorio, Bel Villaggio alla parte settentrionale di Malta" (A pretty village in the northern part of Malta).
In modern times a controversy has risen over the real name of this village - whether it should be called Gargur or Ħal Għargħur. The original name was Ħal Għargħur (pronounced hal arur). 'Ħal' is an old abbreviation of 'Raħal', which means a "village/small town". 'Għargħur' most probably derives from 'Gregorio' — in the middle of the 15th century, the village was called Casal Gregorio. In Hebrew, Gargur or Gargiur is the name given to small communities. The current pronunciation is possibly related to the influence of British rule. It is also possible that the name Gregorio emerged as a result of the process of Italianisation which the Maltese language underwent. Similar example are the names of the town of Żurrieq, which on official documents appeared as Zurico and Naxxar, which on various documents and maps was referred to as Nasciaro. Most probably, the name Ħal Għargħur derives from the Għargħar, Malta's national tree. It is interesting to note that in the North-Eastern part of Malta there are other place names which possibly have their origin to this particular tree. These are San Ġwann ta' l-Għargħar and Il-Ħotba tal-Għargħar. Another reason for the two versions of the name might be linguistic/phonologic. Originally the Maltese letter "GĦ" was spelt (it still is by a small number of people). It is possible that when the usage of the "GĦ" in speech was dying out, some people dropped the "GĦ " (in the same way as was done with other words) while others retained it but transformed it into a G sound. Similar cases can be found in the Maltese language. For example, the word "ħarħar" was originally spelt as "għargħar"; in this case the "Għ" was replaced by an "ħ".
Some Roman artifacts, found during road construction, were carried to the Domvs Romana, a Roman Villa and Museum, situated in the old city of Mdina. A Muslim-style oven is still found in a house in Sqaq Warda, and a home with Arab-style decorations on the façade exists in the same area. There is documented reference of Ħal Għargħur as far back as 1419, in the lists of the Dejma, which was a Militia that guarded the locals from pirate attacks. The settlement suffered from severe de-population during the High Middle Ages and some years later due to continuous pirate attacks. Exiles from the central Italian city of Celano settled in Ħal Għargħur...   ... (English)
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