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.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Snapshots of … St Elmo Point, Valletta

There’s another aspect to Valletta. Away from the churches, palaces and shops there is the other Valletta – the city of forts and fortified walls, the military marvel designed  by Francesco Laparelli. A few metres away from the entrance to Fort St Elmo, a flight of steps will take you down beneath the city’s massive walls.

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There’s evidence here of a deadly conflict; strange passages cut in the rocks; half-hidden staircases and forgotten bridges; strange remnants that everyone has forgotten the reason for; rock-hewn caverns and time-worn walls.

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And, of course, rock pools, boats and a wonderful view across the harbour.

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Far from the Baroque  marvel, the military origins of Valletta slumber and dream …

Location: St Elmo Point, Valletta

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Inside Auberge de Castille

The Barracca Bridge and Castille (37)

The Auberge de Castille, Leon and Portugal was designed by Maltese architect Girolamo Cassar in 1574. It was remodelled and almost entirely rebuilt in 1741, under the direction of architect Andrea Belli. The auberges, of which there are several, were built to house Knights who had no residence in Malta. Auberge de Castille is, architecturally, considered to be the finest and the most grand. Of particular note is the imposing main staircase.

The Barracca Bridge and Castille (27)

 The Barracca Bridge and Castille (28)

The Barracca Bridge and Castille (30)

The person in charge of this auberge was the Grand Chancellor of the Order of St John. The Knights of Castille were responsible for the defence of a part of Valletta’s fortifications, known as St Barbara Bastion. Auberge de Castille is situated at the highest point of Valletta and commands a wonderful view of Grand Harbour and of the surrounding towns, villages and distant countryside.

The Barracca Bridge and Castille (31)

After the Knights of St John left Malta in 1798, Auberge de Castille served as the headquarters of the French occupation forces until 1800. After 1800 it became the British army headquarters. In 1972 Auberge de Castille became the office of the Prime Minister of Malta. It continues to house this office to the present day and it is usually off-limits to the public. These photos were taken during the Christmas period when the auberge was open for an exhibition of paintings of the Nativity.

The Barracca Bridge and Castille (34)

As a side-note, this Christmas tree is made of hand-blown glass spheres created and assembled by glassblowers from Mdina Glass.

The Barracca Bridge and Castille (36)The Barracca Bridge and Castille (39)

Auberge de Castille, Leon and Portugal

Castille Place

Valletta

 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Snapshots of … Fawwara

I’ve already written about the chapel of Our Lady of Carmel at Fawwara here and about how it seems to be a place lost in time here. Today I just wanted to share the natural beauty of the place with you. The Spring months are beautiful here: wild flowers are plentiful, the weather is mild and the sea is a bright cobalt blue.

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In unspoilt places like Fawwara, the beauty seems to be magnified ten-fold. There is a riotous exuberance about the contrasting colours of rock and sky and limestone and flowers; about a silence so profound that you can almost hear the delicate flutter of a butterfly’s wings. For those that want to escape from everything – this  is the perfect refuge.

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Location:  Fawwara

From top to bottom: 1. Mediterranean Spring vegetation; 2. more vegetation; 3. a girna; 4. yellow wall rocket; 5 red clover and yellow wall rocket; 6. a clump of crown daisy and a deserted farmhouse; 7. more vegetation; 8. working the fields; 9. girna (from the rear); 10. giant fennel.

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