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.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Introducing … Bormla

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On a rainy day, last February, we went for a walk in Bormla (also known as Cospicua) – one of the Three Cities. This town in Grand Harbour, hemmed in between Birgu and Isla, its more well-known neighbours, has had a colourful and often-tragic history.

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Although it has been inhabited since pre-historic times, it also bore the brunt of Malta’s two major sieges. In 1565 it was decimated by the Turks. It was subsequently fortified by the Knights of the Order of St John and started to thrive when the Order used its creek as a berthing place to anchor and repair their ships. During the British years, the Royal Navy built their dockyard in the same spot. This created hundreds of jobs in the area and ushered in Bormla’s golden years.

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Due to its proximity to the dockyard, Bormla was heavily bombarded by Axis airplanes during WW2 and many historic buildings were severely damaged or totally destroyed. The majority of the population took refuge in the countryside. After the war, the town rose again from the debris and the ashes but, in many cases, planning was erratic and many of the new buildings did not fit in well with the pre-war architecture that managed to survived.

These days Bormla looks a bit faded, a bit tired, as if it is still dreaming of its glory days. It needs a facelift, one that is not just cosmetic. It needs life to be injected back into it. Perhaps it needs to recapture the pride of its golden years and wipe out all the bad memories.

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This harbour town is not what I would call pretty – at least not right now. It has some scars. And they run deep. There are definitely some social problems in the area and most of the population tends to focus on these negative points. I admit that this is not a place where I venture often. Indeed this is probably my first walk around this town since I was a young child. But I think that that is about to change.

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It is high time that I explore this place a bit better, get to know it a bit more. Hopefully more of its buildings will be restored and renovated so that it will regain its former lustre. For the sake of our heritage I trust that this will happen sooner rather than later – before it is too late.Bormla 006Bormla 012Bormla 014

Photographed in the streets of Bormla

February 2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Kitchen Garden

The Kitchen Garden is situated opposite the back entrance of San Anton Palace. It has been supplying vegetables to the Palace since the 17th century, when the palace was built as a summer residence by  Grand Master de Paule.

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The garden was extensively rehabilitated and was opened to the public last year. It is built on three levels: the children’s play area, cafeteria and animal pens are on the lowest level; a rose and herb garden is on the next  level and the last is the Swan Terrace. This terrace is built over a larger reservoir built in 1766 to provide water for the garden.

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The Kitchen Garden still serves its original purpose of supplying the Palace with fruit and vegetables.

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The Kitchen Garden

San Anton Street

Attard

Photographed July 2011

Opening hours:    Winter: Monday to Friday — 9:30 am to 2:00 pm
Summer: Monday to Friday —10:00am to 10:00pm
Saturday, Sunday, Public Holidays — 9:00 am to 1:30 pm

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Banca Giuratale

Medieval Mdina (1)

The Banca Giuratale (or Municipal Palace) is a Baroque building in Mdina’s main street. This building was designed by de Mondion and built in 1726 by Grand Master de Vilhena to house the offices of the civil administration of the island. The fa├žade is quite imposing and heavily decorated, as was common during this period.

Medieval Mdina (2)

Medieval Mdina (3)

 

The civil administration held the district court in this building until 1831 after which it was leased to private individuals. It was taken over by the Education department in 1881 and was used as a secondary school until 1969. It was then leased to the Sisters of St Dorothy for a short period of time and functioned as a private school. Today, the Banca Giuratale houses part of the national archives, specifically court proceedings from 1530 to 1900. An exhibition of portraits of Maltese personalities is on permanent display in the hallways of this palace.

I have my own special ties with this building since I went to school there for 3 short years in the mid-1970s.

Medieval Mdina (4)

Main Staircase

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Banca Giuratale – Facade

 

Banca Giuratale

Villegaignon Street

Mdina

Opening hours:

Monday 8.00a.m. – 2.00p.m. / 3.00p.m. – 7.30p.m.

Tuesday/Wednesday/Friday 8.00a.m. – 2.00p.m.

Thursday 10.00a.m. – 2.00p.m.

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