Gzira is a town in the north-eastern coast of Malta, between Msida & Sliema. Gzira means Island in Maltese, and the town is named after Manoel Island which lies just adjacent to it. Manoel Island is itself named after Manuel de Vilhena, a Grandmaster of the Knights of Malta in medieval times and under whose leadership Fort Manoel was built. In the past, Gzira used to be a working-class town with a stigma of prostitution. During the last decade, a large proportion of the old houses has been demolished and new, luxurious blocks of flats have been built. This led to an inflation of the housing prices, as the town became sought after by both Maltese and foreign settlers.
The main reason behind the area's popularity is that it is fairly centrally located in Malta, being close to both the University Campus and the capital, Valletta. Gzira's population has been fairly stable over the past few years, hovering around 8,000 people. New developments now feature various commercial outlets but then newcomers have been moving into apartments thus, the loss of people who have moved from townhouses has been compenstated by those who moved into the new apartments. The Manoel Island development shall further boost Gzira's commercial activity as well as its population. Service industries, mainly car mechanics, commercial outlets and educational services are the town's main activities, yet Gzira shall most probably remain the gateway to Sliema, its nearby town.
The parish church is dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Gzira became a parish in 1921. The Church is also known as "Tal-Gebla", literally translated as "Of Stone". The reason being that two drunken sailors, had thrown stones on a picture of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which was hanging outside an inn/bar owned by a certain Carmel Brincat. The inn was closed, and the sailors wanted to enter at all costs. When Brincat refused to open they started to throw stones at the place. One of the stones hit the effigy of Our Lady. The stone broke the glass of the frame but, notwithstanding the wind, the stone remained fixed within the broken glass. The frame and the glass can still be seen today at this beautiful church.