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.


Sunday 28 March 2010

Birgu – Citta Vittoriosa

Birgu is a medieval harbour town on the east coast of the island. Its origins date back to Roman times but the city we know today has gone through a very chequered history which has made it into the place we know today. The name Vittoriosa (victorious) was bestowed on Birgu after it emerged victorious from the siege of 1565. A walk through its street is like walking through a living history book. Like Mdina it is a town of narrow streets, palaces and churches. However, unlike Mdina, which has retreated behind its bastions dreaming of its past, Birgu is a more vibrant city.

When the Knights of St John moved to Malta in 1530 they took up residence in Birgu so as to be close to their galleys and they stayed there until Valletta was built across the harbour in 1566. Birgu also has close ties with the Royal Navy who used the harbour to berth their ships and built their dockyard in the adjoining town of Bormla.

The photos below are just a very small introduction to the many gems that Birgu has to offer. Indeed, like many of the other historical areas on the island, it will take several posts to do justice to the history, architecture and legends of this old maritime town. Let’s say that today’s post is just a short introduction.

The church of St Lawrence, designed by famous  Maltese Baroque architect Lorenzo Gafa.

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The area behind the church.

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A balcony in Birgu’s main square.

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The narrow, winding streets leading off of the main square.

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The Norman house in Birgu.

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View out of the window of the Norman house.

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Entrance to the Birgu waterfront. The arch and the adjacent building was built during the British period.

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The Royal Navy bakery, built in 1840, which now houses the Maritime  Museum.

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Monday 22 March 2010

An Intriguing Door

We were wandering around the picturesque streets of Birgu when this particular door caught my eye. Nothing special really but the sign that was painted on it intrigued me.

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I kept wondering who the door keeper was and what was behind that door. Perhaps a passage to a better place?

 Birgu 127

Not likely. It’s just a sign painted by someone with a wry sense of humour and some spare time on his hands .

A very short post, for today. I will take you on a longer tour of this medieval harbour town in my next post.

Saturday 13 March 2010

A Rare Sight – Maltese Freshwater crab

We recently went for a walk in the picturesque valley of Bahrija (pronounced Bahriya). It is one of the unspoilt areas of the island. While crossing a very small stream at the start of our walk we came across a very rare creature – a fresh water crab (Potamon fluvitile lanfrancoi). These crabs are only found in three valleys in Malta and in one valley on the neighbouring island of Gozo. He (or she) got rather upset when it heard us coming and tried to hide under some shoots of fallen bamboo. But I did manage to take a photo of our friend who I’ve decided to name Peeping Tom.

Bahrija Valley (13)

This is the first time in my life that I have seen this elusive creature. Perhaps it is a sign that the freshwater crab population is starting to grow again? I hope so. It would be a pity if this endemic species is wiped out.

Sunday 7 March 2010

Wild Flowers

During spring time this small island is filled with the bloom and fragrance of hundreds of different wild flowers. Here are just a few that are colouring up our landscape before the summer drought.

Bahrija Valley (17)

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Bahrija Valley (27) Bahrija Valley (1)

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 Bahrija Valley (8)           Bahrija Valley (12)

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The Azure Window: the end of an icon

The Azure Window was a natural limestone arch that rose majestically out of the blue Mediterranean sea to a height of 28 metres (92 fee...