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 31 May 2010

A Glimpse of the Past

Medieval Mdina 020  

I was walking up this narrow, winding street one bright April afternoon. There was nothing unusual about that. I must have walked this road at least a hundred times. Then suddenly I heard what sounded like a sob and a heart-broken cry. I looked up but all I could see was a tiny red window. No one else was in sight – and yet I felt that someone was very close.

Medieval Mdina 021

I reached out and touched the limestone wall, etched deeply by rain that had long since dried up and caressed by winds that have blown themselves out, and I felt a connection to another time. An echo from the past whispered it tale. In the deepening silence I closed my eyes and let the walls pour out their story – a story of prejudice and misguided zeal, of families forced to abandoned their homes and livelihoods, of hasty conversions to avoid persecution and death.

I continued to touch the wall gently with the tips of my fingers, feeling the sad vibes of this family that has long since moved on and wondering … wondering who these ghosts were, what made them so sad … then a sign above the door brought the past hurtling back and I remembered …

The Jewish Silk Market

Medieval Mdina 022


The above narrative is, of course, just something I made up but the event I am hinting at took place. The first Jews had settled in the Maltese islands at least 3500 years ago. Archeological proof from many areas of the island confirm that there was a fairly large Jewish community living here. Most of these Jews were shopkeepers, merchants or import-export agents. This mostly peaceful co-existence with the native population changed suddenly in 1492 when the Inquisition gave all Jews three months to leave the island or else convert to Christianity and forfeit 45% of their possessions. This was certainly not one of the most glorious moments of our chequered history. In the centuries that followed mutual distrust grew between the two nations. These hard feelings may have been laid to rest when, during WW2, Malta was the only European country that did not require Jews fleeing Nazism to have a visa. Consequently thousands of Jews were able to escape to freedom. For more information about Malta and the Jews, go here.

Friday 21 May 2010

Weekend Reflections: Mirrors and Mosaics

   Medieval Mdina 136

Several exhibitions were held during the Medieval Mdina weekend. One interesting exhibition, held at the Corte Capitanale (the former Courts of Justice), featured a number of very creative and colourful mosaics. Amongst them was this mirror framed by a simple yet eye-catching mosaic. The reflection is of the top of the opposite wall and of part of the adjacent archway.

Mosaics have been used as decorative art since ancient times. The oldest mosaic ever found dates back to the second half of the third millenium BC and was used to decorate a temple building in Ubaid, Mesopotamia. As witnessed during the exhibition, the art of mosaic-making is still thriving after five thousand years.

 Medieval Mdina 132 

Medieval Mdina 130

Medieval Mdina 134

For more reflections from around the world visit James at Newton Area Photo.

Friday 7 May 2010

Valletta in Sepia (4) – Our Lady of Victory Church

Valletta (17)   

This was the first church built in Valletta and it was built on the site where a ceremony was held to inaugurate the foundation stone of the new city in March 1566. The facade was given its current Baroque style in 1752. Following years of deterioration and neglect, the church was restored in 2004.

Valletta (18)

Valletta (19)

On a more personal note, my parents were married in this church in 1968.

Valletta (20)

Sunday 2 May 2010

Reflections at the Water’s Edge

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I am enamoured of reflections. Perhaps, living on an island, it’s totally predictable. I love the calm serene days of late summer evenings, when the heat of the sun dissipates and it hovers in the sky for just a few minutes before it sinks into the west. At that time, reflections are at their peak, every detail mirrored in the glass-like surface of the water. It is the best time for sitting on a rock, surrounded by total silence except for the whispering of the sea. It is at moments like this that reality fades and you can hear the call of the sirens beckoning you to their home.

Please visit James at Newton Area Photo for more Weekend Reflections from around the world.

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...