Popeye Village, also known as Sweethaven Village, is situated in Anchor Bay, Mellieha.
It is the actual set used by Paramount Pictures and Walt Disney Productions for the Robert Altman’s film “Popeye,” shot in Malta. It is the only film set which still stands in Europe.
In 1929, Popeye appeared for the first time in a comic strip. After 30 years, the cartoons with this character were a huge success on TV, and, even today, they are still being aired throughout the world. The film is based on the comic strips by E.C. Segar about the strongest sailor man, famous around the world. The village is all about the hero with large forearms and a pipe in the corner of his mouth, who ate spinach to get extra strength- Popeye the Sailor.
In order to recreate the fictional village of Sweethaven, the construction started in June 1979 and lasted for seven months. To protect the set from high waves crashing into the coastline, a large breakwater was built in Anchor Bay. It took 165 international construction workers to build the village, which consists of nineteen quaint and colorful houses.
The rustic buildings were constructed with wooden materials imported from Holland and Canada. The wooden tiles for the rooftops were transported from Canada, while the wooden logs from Holland. For the construction were used several thousand wooden planks and wood shingles, two thousand gallons of paint and eight tons of nails. Many houses contain various items which were used in the filming.
The filming started on January 23rd, 1980, and concluded on June 19th, 1980. The movie is called “Popeye” with Robin Williams in the leading role, who plays the quirky Popeye the sailor man, in search for his long-lost adventures. The Hollywood movie “Popeye” was his first movie which made it to the big screen.
Today, Popeye Village is an open-air museum, and the structures are well preserved in their original form. While wandering the village, the houses depicted in the musical movie turn the fictional world of Popeye into reality. Among them, there are the Popeye’s cabin, Olive Oyl’s house, the post office, the shoemaker’s and the silversmith’s house, the firehouse, the dentist shop and the baker’s house.
The Rough House is the building known as the ‘Cafe’ in the film. Inside the house, there are television screens which play the movie ‘Popeye.’ Also, information about the construction of the village is constantly shown in the cinema in a fifteen-minute documentary.
Visitors also come to the village to meet world famous cartoon figures. Characters from the show, such as Popeye, Olive Oyl, Bluto, and Wimpy are constantly walking around the village. Throughout the years, many shows are held in the village, but the most unique event is the Wedding of Popeye and Olive.
Among the exhibitions in the Popeye’s comic museum, there are over 200 vintage comics, as well as the original Popeye cartoons from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. When the weather is good, visitors enjoy 20-minute boat rides around the bay in an old-styled vessel.