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 30 July 2013

Wayside Chapels: The Immaculate Conception at Wied Gerzuma

Kuncizzjoni & Gnejna 015

The chapel of the Immaculate Conception is in the middle of nowhere – or as in-the-middle-of-nowhere are you can be on this little island. I love it because of its isolated location and its simple interior. It was built in 1736 by Grand Master de Vilhena on land acquired in 1621 by Grand Master de Paule. The chapel is located on high ground in a rural setting and, on a clear day, the view is magnificent. Unfortunately, it was very hazy the day we visited so I could not really get a good photo of the scenery. This spot reminds me of childhood picnics and teenage hikes. It is certainly a place where you can get away from it all and enjoy nature at its pristine best.

Kuncizzjoni & Gnejna 001

Kuncizzjoni & Gnejna 009

Kuncizzjoni & Gnejna 006

Kuncizzjoni & Gnejna 011

Location: Chapel of the  Immaculate Conception, Wied Gerzuma, l/o Rabat


Due to an upcoming vacation, I will not be posting on this blog for a while. I would, however, appreciate your feedback to the following question: what would you like to see more of on this page?

I hope you all enjoy the rest of your summer. 

Monday 15 July 2013

The Inquisitor’s Palace

The Inquisitor's Palace (16)

This grand palace in the heart of Birgu was initially built to serve as Law Courts during the Norman domination. The vaulted internal courtyard was built by the Knights of St John in the 1530s. In 1571 the Knights moved the Law Courts to the new city of Valletta. For three years the building remained vacant until the first Inquisitor, Pietro Dusina, took up residence. The Inquisitors remained in residence in this building until the French Occupation in 1798. The current fa├žade was constructed in 1658.

The Inquisitor's Palace (25)

Off of the courtyard is the palace kitchen, which boasts a very well-preserved wood-burning stove. A well in one corner of the room provided water for all the kitchen’s needs.

The Inquisitor's Palace (33)

The Inquisitor's Palace (36)

The Inquisitor's Palace (38)

Also on the ground floor is a small walled garden that was designed by Inquisitor Fabio Chigi in 1634.

The Inquisitor's Palace (46)

An imposing staircase (that I failed to get a photo of but which you can see here) takes you up to the piano nobile, a richly decorated room that runs the entire length of the building; the Inquisitor’s apartments and his private chapel.

The Inquisitor's Palace (53)

The Inquisitor's Palace (57)

The Inquisitor's Palace (60)

Also on this floor is the Tribunal – the place were people were brought for trial after being reported, and sentences were pronounced. A much less grand staircase leads to the prison warden’s room, the torture room and the prisons. Another internal courtyard off of the prisons was used by the prisoners.

The Inquisitor's Palace (69)

The Inquisitor's Palace (62)

The Inquisitor's Palace (67)

The Inquisitor's Palace (74)

A total of sixty-two Inquisitors resided in this building until the last one left, together with the Knights of St John, following their expulsion by Napoleon in 1798. During the two years of French rule the palace was used as the official residence of the commander of the Cottonera district. When the British governed Malta, the palace was first used as a military hospital and then as a mess-house for officers of the army. In 1995 it was converted into a museum of folklore.

The Inquisitor's Palace (65)

The Inquisitor’s Palace is a fascinating place. It served both as the official residence of the Inquisitor and also as an ecclesiastic tribunal and prison. The prisoners’ cells, with occasional graffiti carved into the soft limestone, are, perhaps, the most poignant reminders of this bygone era. Like the town of Birgu in which it is situated, the Inquisitor’s Palace has had a chequered history. But it has withstood the test of time very well and it continues to intrigue those of us with a natural curiosity about our heritage.

The Inquisitor's Palace (71)


The Maltese Islands fell under the jurisdiction of the Roman Inquisition, and not the more notorious Spanish Inquisition. The Inquisition acted mostly as a watch-dog to guard against heretical beliefs. The majority of sentences were of a spiritual  nature (e.g. fasting and prayer), although physical punishment (like public flogging or rowing on the galleys) was sometimes resorted to. Torture was rarely used and was usually much less severe than methods used by the civil authorities. I do not propose to go into a debate about this sore subject. All I will say is that the Inquisition was a product of its times – an era when almost none of the civil liberties that we take for granted today existed.The Inquisitor's Palace (21)

Location: The Inquisitor’s Palace, Main Gate Street,  Birgu

Opening Hours
Monday to Sunday: 9.00-17.00
Last admission: 16.30
Closed: 24, 25 & 31 December, 1 January, Good Friday

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...