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.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

St Paul’s Cathedral, Mdina

Dwejra, Nadur &  Mdina (61)

There is a 2000 year old tradition, passed down through countless generations, that the apostle Paul met the Roman governor Publius on this site, where the cathedral dedicated to him stands today. Publius converted to Christianity and became the first bishop of Malta. This is not the first cathedral to grace this spot. The first cathedral, which is said to have been dedicated to the Blessed Virgin fell into disrepair during the Muslim period. This was followed by a Norman church in Gothic style, re-dedicated to St Paul, which was enlarged and modified several times. This building was destroyed by the earthquake of 1693 and the current edifice was erected in its place.

Dwejra, Nadur &  Mdina (40)

Dwejra, Nadur &  Mdina (42)

This Baroque structure was designed by Maltese architect Lorenzo Gafa and was built between 1697 and 1702. Gafa’s magnificent dome is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Malta. The interior of the cathedral is lavishly decorated with paintings, stained glass windows, inlaid marble tombstones, silver candelabra and gold leaf. One of the most famous paintings is Mattia Preti’s Conversion Of St Paul which used to hang in the old cathedral but somehow managed to survive the earthquake. Go here for a 360 view of the interior.

Dwejra, Nadur &  Mdina (43)

Dwejra, Nadur &  Mdina (44)

Dwejra, Nadur &  Mdina (45)

Dwejra, Nadur &  Mdina (46)

The Mdina sky-line (which you may see in my header  photo), with the cathedral perched on the edge  of the hill, is one of the most recognised views in Malta and can be seen from many places around the island, both during the day and at night - when it is lit up. The fa├žade of the cathedral is divided into three bays with two bell towers at the corners.

Medieval Mdina 077

Beneath each bell tower is a clock. According to legend, the clock on the left was purposefully placed there to confuse the devil since it does not appear to tell the correct time. In reality it shows the date and month of the year. The clock on the right is the time-keeper and it strikes every 15 minutes.

Medieval Mdina 078

 

Dwejra, Nadur &  Mdina (49)

Dwejra, Nadur &  Mdina (50)

Dwejra, Nadur &  Mdina (51)

Dwejra, Nadur &  Mdina (52)

Dwejra, Nadur &  Mdina (54)

As a child I would often stand at the cathedral’s main door and look up into the sky. They scurrying clouds made it seem as if the spires were moving and dancing to some secret rhythm. At the time, this was one of the highest buildings that I had seen. These days, I am no longer awed by its height but I still like to stand at its base and gaze upwards towards the heavens. And still the spires seem to dance. And I smile, because for a brief instant I am child again.

Dwejra, Nadur &  Mdina (55)

Metropolitan Cathedral of St Paul

St Paul’s Square

Mdina

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Malta And The Movies (2): Clash Of The Titans (1981 version)

It’s hard to believe that so many years have passed since this movie first came out and that it has now been re-released. Prior to the advent of computer generated animation, a special effects technique known as stop motion animation was used to create the mythological creatures in the movie. Clash Of The Titans is an adaptation of the Greek myth of Perseus and his quest to destroy both the Gorgon, Medusa, and the Kraken sea monster to save princess Andromeda. The storyline in the movie is rather different from the original myth – but then, movies usually are. Laurence Olivier as Zeus, Ursula Andress as Aphrodite, Harry Hamlin as Perseus and Claire Bloom as Hera were amongst the stellar cast.

Although many people are familiar with the original movie and have probably seen it, not many people know that a portion of the movie was filmed on the island of Gozo (one of the three major islands that make up the Maltese archipelago). The scene below, with the Kraken rising out of the sea, was filmed at the Azure Window, one of the most recognisable landmarks in Gozo. The clip is a bit long but you can see the Azure Window at 1:19.

 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Southern Coastline: Hofriet

Delimara (33)

Hofriet is the Maltese word for holes and it aptly describes this cove, and another next to it, situated in the southern part of the island, because when seen from above, they do look like two adjacent holes separated by a thin strip of land. This part of Malta is characterised by soft, white, limestone  cliffs. In some places, the slopes incline gradually towards the sea. In others, the drop is sheer and unforgiving.

Delimara (34)

The best way to reach this cove is either by boat or else by swimming from the next bay through an archway in the cliff.

Delimara (35)

A precarious path down to the water  probably also exists – although I could not see one.

The scenery is quite pretty - the blue sea in sharp contrast with the bleached limestone of the rocks and cliffs.

Steven and Cristina 050

You will notice a difference in the colours of the photos since they were taken on two very different days: a breezy day in early June and a bright summer’s day in mid-September.

Steven and Cristina 051

That is one thing that I absolutely love about the sea – it’s ever-changing faces and moods.

Steven and Cristina 052Steven and Cristina 053

I have yet to visit Hofriet during the winter when the wind will roar and heave the sea into columns of spray. It must surely be a spectacular sight.

Photographed at

Hofriet

Delimara

June and September 2011

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