Villa Guardamangia – Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s former home in Malta

It was one of their first marital homes and a place where the then Princess Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip were able to live a relatively ‘normal’ life as husband and wife, before the sudden death of her father, King George VI, changed their lives forever. Now, Villa Guardamangia is set to be transformed into a museum, after falling into disrepair in recent years,

The couple lived in Malta for two years between 1949 and 1951, while Prince Philip was stationed there with HMS Magpie. An 18th century limestone villa in the style of a summer palace, Villa Guardamangia was loaned to the couple by Philip’s beloved uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten, who rented it from the Schembri family. It was said to hold very happy memories for the couple, who looked back on their carefree time there fondly later in life. The Queen was a ‘regular’ naval wife, shopping in her Morris Minor and taking boat trips around the archipelago, while her husband worked hard in the Navy, one of his great joys, and a career that was cut short by his wife’s ascension to the throne.

The building was purchased in 2020 by the government and entrusted to Heritage Malta. The conservation and reconstruction works are already taking place but the main rehabilitation works are planned to start by the end of the year 2022 and are planned to last for the next 5 years and cost around €10mil to bring the villa back to its former glory. Conservators are currently working on the 1st floor uncovering the original wall paintings. This project will see the former royal residence transformed into a museum, exploring both Britain’s link to Malta (which gained independence in 1964) and will recreate what the house looked like when the royal couple lived there.

‘It’s in a very dilapidated state,’ Kenneth Gambin from Heritage Malta, told The Telegraph. ‘We’ve had to prop up the façade because it was threatening to collapse in places. We will have to replace some walls. It needs extensive work, it’s been falling to pieces for the last few decades. We calculate that it will cost somewhere between €5m and €10m and I would say it will be closer to the higher figure.’

 

Article credits: https://www.tatler.com/article/villa-guardamangia-malta-home-queen-prince-philip-renovation
Mdina Cathedral Museum catering for eclectic tastes

The Mdina Cathedral Museum stands out as an institution that is continuously evolving. It is housed in a magnificent baroque building on the right hand side of the cathedral, in Archbishop’s Square. This imposing edifice was built by Bishop Alpheran de Bussan, with the first stone being laid in 1733. This building was to serve as the seminary for the diocese of Malta.

In the 16th century, the council of Trent had instituted seminaries to provide for the training of candidates to priesthood. Twelve years after the last session of the council, Mgr. Dusina, Apostolic Visitor to Malta had decreed the erection of a seminary. Various attempts were made by the bishops of Malta to have such a purpose built building but it was only in 1703 that Bishop Cocco Palmieri welcomes the first seminarians to a building in Mdina.

In 1723 Bishop Mancini (1722-1727) , transferred the Seminary to Valletta. Bishop Fra Paolo Alpheran de Bussan and Grandmaster Manoel De Vilhena funded the building of the current building.  The building’s design is attributed to the architects Giovanni Barbara or Andrea Belli, although Barbara was dead when construction began, leaving Belli as the more likely candidate. The Mdina Seminary was inaugurated on the 20th May, 1742.

The Times of Malta talked to its curator, Mgr Edgar Vella and exhibition coordinator, Joseph P. Borg about its ethos and the recent bequest of the collection of John Bugeja Caruana. You may learn all about it in the article on The Times of Malta.

Read the full article here: https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/mdina-cathedral-museum-catering-eclectic-tastes.983126
8 of Malta’s stunning wayside chapels

The Maltese Islands really do have the grandest of churches – we have one for nearly ever day of the year! But often, it’s in the simplest of chapels that we can find tranquillity and peace (not to mention some of the islands’ most spectacular countryside views). Here are 8 of Malta’s prettiest wayside chapels.

1. Chapel of St John the Evangelist, Ħal Millieri, Żurrieq
This chapel is located in the now uninhabited area in Żurrieq known as Ħal Millieri. The chapel was built around 1481 but became quite dilapidated over time, which meant it had to be deconsecrated. The chapel was later reconsecrated and was eventually enlarged in 1961.

2. St Paul the Hermit, Wied il-Għasel, Mosta
Located in a cave in Wied il-Għasel (Valley of Honey), this chapel has legends surrounding its origins and is mentioned in the first history book of Malta written by Gian Frangisk Abela in 1647. By time, the chapel was abandoned due to the challenging paths to get to it.

3. St Mary’s Chapel, Marsa
St Mary’s Chapel, commonly known as Ta’ Ċeppuna, is said to be a spectacular relic of Malta’s late medieval past, and honestly, it’s just that. This gem in the south of Malta dates back to the late 15th century and was used for divine service until World War II, when it suffered extensive damages due to various air raids.

4. St Mary Magdalene Chapel, Dingli
This Roman Catholic chapel is found in the limits of Dingli, overlooking the mighty Dingli Cliffs and, naturally, boasting impeccable views. Commonly known as il-kappella tal-irdum (chapel of the cliffs), this wayside chapel was built in 1646 on the site of an earlier 15th-century chapel.

5. San Pawl tal-Qlejja, Mosta
This wayside chapel is located in the Valley called Qlejgħa or Qlejja, hence the name. It is dedicated to the Shipwreck of St Paul and dates back to 1690. The current chapel stands on the site of an older chapel that was demolished.

6. Madliena Chapel, Swieqi
The Madliena chapel was once the centre of the community in the hamlet of Madliena, but was abandoned for years on end. Two years ago though, the chapel was restored, and mass is currently celebrated every Sunday for locals in the vicinity.

7. Sanctuary of the Nativity of the Our Lady, Mellieħa
It has been said that Saint Luke painted the figure of Our Lady on the bare rock face of a natural cave in Mellieħa. Well, many locals and visitors alike believe this story, with various pilgrims coming from all over the world to visit the shrine!

8. Wied Għammieq Chapel, Kalkara
Wied Għammieq Chapel is one of the more recent ones, having been built in the 19th century. The surrounding cemetery became the resting place for hundreds who died during the cholera epidemic in 1837. Some believe that the area of Wied Għammieq may very well be haunted as tragedy struck in the 70s when two brothers, two girls, and a construction worker lost their lives on separate occasions!

Article credits: https://www.guidememalta.com/en/8-of-malta-s-stunning-wayside-chapels-then-and-now
Grand Master’s Palace Restoration Works

The project will cost approximately €28 million, with the initial phase being cofinanced by the European Union as part of the European Fund for Regional Development for the sum of €10 million. The subsequent phase, at a cost of around €18 million, is being financed by the Maltese government. The initial phase is expected to be completed by the end of next year, with the entire project being ready by 2025.

The restoration of the palace’s corridors is part of the initial phase of this ambitious project which, once completed, will offer visitors a totally different experience of the palace to the one enjoyed previously.

 

Heritage Malta Taste History

This week we headed down to Vittoriosa to learn about Heritage Malta’s Taste History initiative. Clive Cortis explains to us this fairly new concept that is being introduced  to Museums on the islands.

After thorough research extracted from a vastly documented evidence found in Malta from the days of the corsairs, Taste History managed to reproduce the recipes and food stuffs used in the past and bring them to life.

This activity is lead by a professional team of curators and chefs that have come together to recreate the paupers’ frugal snacks, the corsair’s celebratory dinner, the Grand Master’s wine list, the Inquistor’s lent dinner and the Merchant’s decadent dessert, bringing about results that are as surprising as the flavours which have been brought back to life. An opportunity for guests to taste Maltese and Mediterranean history. This journey can be enjoyed at the Maritime Museum or the Inquisitor’s Palace, both found in the Three Cities, the original location of the corsairs or in any other Heritage Malta site. The Taste History team are urging the general public to join expert historians and fellow learners and immerse in the changing tastes of history in 18th century Malta.

This experience is exciting and interesting as a traditional dinner or lunch event and is being extremely well received by all that have experienced the journey.

Malta is renowned for its history and we are very proud to share it with all our guests as we greet them on our islands and passionately recount the myriad of stories the island holds so dearly.

Did you know how the Domvs Romana was discovered?

2020 marked 100 years since Sir Temi Zammit started excavations at the Domvs Romana, 2021 marks the 140th anniversary of the Domvs’s accidental discovery and 2022 will commemorate 140 years since the Domvs was opened to the public as a museum. However what we see today when we visit the Domvs is a far cry from what this luxurious dwelling must have looked like, roughly between the second half of the first century BC and the first half of the first century AD.

David Cardona, senior curator for Phoenician, Roman and medieval sites at Heritage Malta, said that some workers were planting trees at what we now know as Howard Gardens, during which a spade made a jarring sound when it hit a hard surface. Startled, the workers stopped to alert their superiors, unaware of the marvellous discovery that was about to unfold. Following the incident during the tree planting at Howard Gardens, Antonio Annetto Caruana, the librarian of the Bibliotheca and curator of the archaeological collection housed in it, was entrusted with the investigation. Most of the areas of this rich Roman townhouse were discovered then and a museum was built to protect the mosaics and house Malta’s Roman antiquities.

Unfortunately a good portion of the house, as well as other surrounding structures and tombs, were completely lost when the British services cut the road leading to the Museum Railway Station in 1899.

The site underwent further investigations in 1920-25 by Sir Temi with the help of Robert V. Galea, Harris Dunscombe Colt and Louis Upton Way. Works extended in all directions of the site and uncovered a substantial number of Islamic burials above the remains of other small Roman houses.

The owner of this Domvs may have been an important public figure. What historians can deduce quite accurately, however, is that this was no humble abode. This was the home of someone wealthy enough to be in the top social stratum, someone with high social connections in Rome, as evidenced by two statues showing members of Emperor Claudius’s family carved in fine marble.

There is so much more to be discovered at the Domvs Romana, such an incredible wealth of artefacts that yet make up only a fraction of our unique cultural heritage. The sheer fact that we can set foot in this house some 2,000 years into its existence is a wonder in itself and all the more reason for Heritage Malta to celebrate its discovery’s anniversary as befits such a remarkable event in our history.

Read more: https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/inside-rabats-glorious-domvs-romana.851603?fbclid=IwAR0NWncyUbsf9A_Ox3dGFhAfJhL4EecSXMQDsNVYPVxFvBbAJSqzX0sDaps
The UNESCO Intangible Heritage List Now Features THESE Two Iconic Maltese Additions

UNESCO established its Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage with the aim of ensuring better protection of important intangible cultural heritages worldwide and the awareness of their significance.

Malta is set to now feature on this list as two Maltese Icons have now been accepted to the list, according to Minister Jose Herrera.

These are, the Traditional Maltese Ftira and the Maltese Festas. The Maltese Ftira is something that the Maltese hold dearly as part of their history and culture. A disc-shaped semi-flat bread made with flour, water and salt is reminiscent of a ciabatta in both texture and taste, but is uniquely different at the same time. The Maltese ftira makes for a simple, fast and delicious snack, especially when filled with the right fresh ingredients.

Ftira, like most simple bread foods around the world, takes its origins from the working people hundreds of years ago who made the most of the resources they had. Most towns and villages in Malta had a communal oven at the time where everyone from the area would bake their bread. The communal ovens may have been lost through the ages but the delectable ftira bread that was made there certainly hasn’t.

The Maltese village festa is the distilled essence of all that is Mediterranean in one event. These feasts combine colourful lights, band music, noisy and bright fireworks displays, and a crowd of hundreds spilling out of bars onto the noisy streets into one orgy of celebration. It’s an unforgettable experience of food, drink, music and fanfare.

Festas are held mainly between the months of May and September, although there are a few exceptions. Every village has at least one patron saint, and this serves as the basis for the village feast. On the appointed time of the year, that village will festoon the streets with statues and banners dedicated to the saint, and throughout the entire week, locals and tourists turn up in droves to enjoy the festivities.

Moreover, the Minister said that Mdina and Gozo’s Cittadella have been submitted for consideration to the UNESCO so that they can be including in the Tangible Heritage List, while the cliffs on the northern side of the Island are to be submitted for consideration on the Environmental Heritage List.

Article credits: https://bay.com.mt/the-unesco-intangible-heritage-list-now-features-these-two-iconic-maltese-additions/
Mattia Preti’s masterpiece Boethius and Philosophy returns to Malta after a hundred years

After over a hundred years of it being missing from Malta, the famous Mattia Preti masterpiece, named Boethius and Philosophy, will be returning to the island. The Maltese Government acquired the 17th century oil on canvas painting for the sum of €1.3 million after it had disappeared mysteriously from the Grandmaster’s Palace at the end of the 19th century. It is believed that the painting was commissioned by Andrea di Giovanni, Knight of the Order of Malta.

It was purchased after it turned up at Sotheby’s Old Masters Auction in New York and will now be added to Malta’s National Collection.

Minister for National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government José Herrera, whilst thanking the Board of Governors of the National Development Social Fund and Heritage Malta, stated that this acquisition is proof of government’s commitment to continue to protect and enrich the cultural and artistic heritage of our country.

 

Free Entrance to six Heritage Malta sites on weekends

During the month of June and starting from this coming weekend, Heritage Malta will be re-opening six of its sites and museums, free of charge to the public.

The six sites are:

The Heritage Malta CEO Noel Zammit and chairman Anthony Scicluna, said the sites will adhere to the Health & Safety guidelines issued by the health authorities amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.

Malta Offers Travelers Virtual Visits

With a global pandemic going on, a collaboration between Heritage Malta and tech giant Google is now giving internet users the unique opportunity to virtually visit several of the agency’s national museums and sites through the online platform Google Arts & Culture.

This collaboration brings Malta’s cultural sites at par with other major international institutions, including the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Van Gogh Museum in Netherlands, the National Gallery of Arts in Washington, Museo Frida Kahlo in Mexico, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and many more. Virtual tours will immerse the viewer into the solemn grounds of the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, walk you along the unique artifacts exhibited at the National Museums of Archaeology in Malta and Gozo, impress you with the exquisite colorful mosaic floors at the Domvs Romana, or accompany you through the turbulent times of World War II, at the National War Museum in Fort St. Elmo.

Heritage Malta invites the public to open these virtual doors to amazing discoveries, and to strive to visit them personally once the pandemic is over.

And if you’re a lover of opera, you’re in for another treat. Maltese Tenor Joseph Calleja will be taking viewers request to sing arias on his Facebook page, since there has been a stop to all travel.

And, once people globally aren’t quarantined anymore, there are great reasons to visit Malta.

Let's go that extra mile!
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