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.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Belvedere at Lija

Lija (5) 

This Belvedere is situated in Lija, one of three villages, the others being Balzan and Attard, situated in the central part of the island. Constructed in 1857 by the Maltese architect Giuseppe Bonavia, it originally formed part of the gardens of a large villa owned by the Depiro family but it was separated from the property when the street in which it now stands was constructed. The word ‘belvedere’ comes from the Italian language and is usually given to structures or towers that command a fine view of their surroundings. When the Belvedere in Lija was built, it commanded unobstructed views of the surrounding countryside and villages. These days the area has been heavily urbanised and even a climb to the top of this structure will only give you a view of houses, houses and more houses with, perhaps, a glimpse of a few fields in the distance.

Due to its rather whimsical architectural style, people from the locality sometimes refer to it as the ‘wedding cake’. Indeed, its three separate levels do resemble the tiers on a traditional wedding cake. I love this shot in sepia, as it makes it seem as if the photo was taken back when the tower was built – well, as long as you ignore the traffic sign in the centre.

Lija (6)

The Belvedere

Transfiguration Avenue

Lija

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Castello Zammitello

Built around 300 years ago, this small castle surrounded by fields is within walking distance of the village of Mgarr. It was built in the Norman style and its main aim was to serve as a look-out post for any corsairs who may have anchored their ships in the near-by bay of Gnejna.

Castello Zammi tello (4)

This small castle, of course, has its own legend. One version of the legend is that Lucia, the daughter of Baron Bernardo Zammit, disappeared on the day she was to marry an elderly Sicilian count. Her distraught father, believing she had been carried away by corsairs, ordered an armed search of the nearby bay – to no avail. A year later, the bells of the local church started tolling unexpectedly and a vision of Lucia, clad  in a nun’s habit, appeared on the altar. Lucia confessed that she had run away from home to avoid marrying the elderly count and had taken refuge in a convent. After taking her vows she had spent the past year tending the wounded in a foreign land only to be killed by a stray arrow. I wonder is the ghost of Lucia sometimes wanders through the rooms of her old home …

  Castello Zammitello 

In recent years the castle has been refurbished and is being used as a venue for weddings and other private functions.

Castello Zammitello

Gnejna Road

Mgarr

Please go here if you are interested in organising a private event at this historic castle.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Of Bridges and Stairs

 Valletta (34) 

I know that comparisons are odious but, for some reason, I cannot help but compare cities. And sometimes, without even meaning to, I find myself comparing our old capital city, Mdina, to our current capital city, Valletta. Both are beautiful in different ways and while I feel that I know Mdina like an old and loved friend, I have not explored Valletta that well – perhaps because it is a young upstart when compared to the older capital which has been around for at least 3000 years. But I am slowly making amends and walking around Valletta with a camera in my hands and trying to make up for lost time. That’s how I cam across this wonderful little place aptly named The Bridge Bar -  because at the foot of the stairs …

Valletta (28)

… a bridge crosses the road below.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Door Knockers of Malta

There was a time when every door on the island had some form of door knocker. Some were just simple rings but the door knockers of the large houses and palaces were works of art in brass or bronze. Today I am sharing some of my favourites.

Birgu 109

Mdina (3)

Medieval Mdina 111

Mdina (8)

While all of them served a practical purpose, looking at these door knockers of yesteryear makes me wonder whether there was some type of competition going on between the house owners as to who would come up with the most elaborate and beautiful door knocker. I will leave it up to each one of you to choose a favourite.

Mdina (29)

Medieval Mdina 120

Mdina (40)

Medieval Mdina 145

Door knockers were photographed in Birgu and Mdina.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wayside Chapels (5) – St Matthew at Il-Maqluba

 Il-Maqluba (54)        

The chapel of St Matthew is situated right above the doline known as il-Maqluba on the outskirts of the village of Qrendi . There are actually two chapels adjacent to each other. The smaller building that you can see towards the left of the photo below is the first chapel dedicated to St Matthew that was built on this site. The style of the building and its interior suggest that this chapel was built in the middle ages.

Il-Maqluba (59)

The day we happened to visit the area, the care-taker of the chapels was making preparations for a wedding so we were able to go inside both the chapels. The interior of the older chapel is quite bare with a beautiful carved motif on and behind the altar.

Il-Maqluba (61)

Il-Maqluba (64)

The bigger chapel, which was built in 1674, is a product of the Baroque era with small stained-glass windows and a large titular painting of St Matthew hanging over the altar.

Il-Maqluba (65)

 

Il-Maqluba (67)

The original painting was by the renowned artist Mattia Preti and was completed in 1688. It is now in safe-keeping while a copy hangs in its place. This precaution was taken after the Preti painting was stolen in the 1960s.

Il-Maqluba (66)

The church was hit  by a bomb during the war and some structural changes were carried out on the facade: two belfries were added while the central belfry was removed.

Il-Maqluba (53)

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