WELCOME

This blog is dedicated to Malta - my island home. My aim is not to bore you with history but to share my thoughts and a few facts together with a photo or two. For a more in -depth background of the island please go here. The purpose of this blog is not to point out the short-comings of the island. There are plenty that do that already. My wish is to show you the beauty of an island at the cross roads of the Mediterranean, a melting pot of history; a place where fact and fiction are sometimes fused to create unique myths and legends; a country that has been conquered so many times that our culture is a mish mesh of the lands that surround us and of lands far away. I confess that my greatest desire is to make you fall in love with this tiny enchanting island.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Manoel Island and its Fort

Manoel Island is situated in the Sliema Creek and is connected to the mainland by means of a small bridge. It was originally known as l’Isola del Vescovo (the Bishop’s Island ). In 1726 Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena paid for the construction of a fort as a defence of western Valletta. The fort was designed by Chevalier Francois de Mondion and was built in the Baroque style. It has a large central Place d’Armes encircled by two tiers of arched barracks and a chapel dedicated to St Anthony of Padua. During WW2 the chapel was virtually destroyed from a direct hit by Luftwaffe bombers in March 1942.

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Apart from the fort, an isolation hospital (Lazzaretto) had been built on the island in 1643 by Grandmaster Jean Paul Lascaris in an attempt to control the influx of plague and cholera from visiting ships.

I first visited Fort Manoel about 12 years ago. The fort, the chapel and the surrounding fortifications were in a state of disrepair. It felt eerie to be walking around the ruins of once-proud buildings. There was a sense of desolation about the place - time, war and vandals had taken their toll on the beautiful symmetry of the buildings.

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In 2006 the fort was entrusted to MIDI, a development firm that is carrying out extensive restoration and renovation in the fort and its surroundings. A few weeks ago, an open weekend was held for the public to appreciate the work that has been carried out and to be able to, once again, admire the military architecture of this fort.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Ruby Tuesday: Balcony

Today's entry ties up with my previous post. This is a balcony in Mdina. Our buildings are mostly made of limestone and red contrasts really well with it. This is especially true of older buildings because as the limestone ages it turns a honey yellow so red doors, windows and balconies act as a perfect foil.

This balcony is somewhat different in that the lattice work on it is quite unusual and is not a common feature of Maltese balconies.

For more Ruby Tuesdays from around the world go over to Mary the Teach at Work of the Poet.

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