A painting discovered behind a blocked arch at the Gran Salon within the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta has been confirmed as an image of Neptune, the Roman God of the Sea, following a conservation project held by Heritage Malta with Bank of Valletta’s (BOV) support.
The painting, which sees the god hold a trident in his hand, was first discovered in 2021 during the project. It stands above what used to be a recessed arch with a fireplace that was blocked and redecorated.
As they were removing the pointing of the blocked-off access, conservators witnessed decorative elements completely different from the current decorative scheme of the Gran Salon, and a small opening was thus made, revealing details of a trident.
Following discussions of the findings with several professionals, the conservation team and Heritage Malta experts, with the approval of the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, continued to meticulously remove stones blocking the archway to reveal a painting of Neptune that could possibly date to the late 17th or early 18th century.
Neptune is seated in the centre of a large seashell, resting his left hand on a jar with flowing war, while holding the trident in his right hand. He is depicted in a green colour, with the experts claiming it might have been done so he imitates bronze statues. As part of the decorative scheme there are also some architectural features among other shells and fish. They claim that to date, this is the only surviving element of the original decorative scheme of the Gran Salon, a majestic hall in the Auberge de Provence – now housing the National Museum of Archaeology – which was most probably fully decorated during the Knight’s period, yet was redecorated during the British Period.
The restoration of the hall commenced in 2017 through a partnership between BOV and Heritage Malta, with the bank’s participation in the project forming part of its commitment to “support and assist the community in which it operates”, going beyond the provision of financial services but as an “active citizen of this community”.
BOV CEO Kenneth Farrugia and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Ernest Agius recently visited the Gran Salon to witness the discovery, and they were greeted by Heritage Malta COO Kenneth Gambin and the conservation team, who provided an update on the conservation process.
“As a bank celebrating its 50th anniversary next year, and with over 200 years of history in Malta, the local heritage is very close to our hearts and forms an integral part of BOV’s Community Programme,” Mr Farrugia said.
“We are indeed very excited to form part of this exciting discovery together with Heritage Malta and we are keen to follow any new information that this discovery will shed on the history of this magnificent hall,” he added.
Mr Gambin expressed his delight at the discovery of this early decorative scheme, which “further enhances” the Gran Salon’s value and beauty. He lauded the efforts of Heritage Malta’s conservators who had a crucial role in the project, and also thanked BOV for its “unwavering support”.
He remarked that Heritage Malta is eager to make this discovery accessible to the public, in line with its commitment to “bring Malta’s cultural heritage within the reach of the widest audience possible”.
Article credits: https://whoswho.mt/en/bov-and-heritage-malta-partnership-sees-exciting-discovery-of-neptune-painting-in-national-museum-of-archaeologyMaltese Nights at Valletta Waterfront
The centre of Valletta turns very quiet when the last office workers and shopkeepers leave for the evening, and the only regular nightlife to speak of are events at the Manoel Theatre and St James Centre, plus a handful of bars.
However, one can take in the scenic Grand Harbour views and relive traditional Malta at the Valletta Waterfront every Thursday evening from 8pm.
The Valletta Waterfront combines food, retail and entertainment within a maritime hub, which for the past years has proved to be a highly popular destination.
For those in search of a relaxing time with good food and entertainment, the Waterfront’s many restaurants and bars cater for different tastes, with dining right by the water’s edge.
The establishments’ indoor dining areas are situated inside the tastefully refurbished, historical stores, originally constructed by Grand Master Pinto in 1752.
Today, ushering in a modern era, the iconic doors have been revived with an artistic impression of colour, representing the storage of goods from days past: blue for fish, green for produce, yellow for wheat and red for wine.
Patrons can go back in time through the Maltese islands’ history and experience traditional folk dancing, falconry displays, the terramaxka – a musical instrument which was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Maltese games, as well as battles between the Knights of St John and the Ottoman Turks, among other activities. The small chapel of the Flight to Egypt by the Holy Family further creates a unique ‘village’ ambience.
Maltese nights will continue every Thursday through to the end of September.
Article credits: https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/maltese-nights-at-the-valletta-waterfront.72611216 reasons to visit Malta in 2023
2023 is the year of the big travel revival. The Mediterranean Archipelago, comprised of Malta, Gozo and Comino, packs a punch in the number of experiences travellers can have and is brimming with reasons why. From a Michelin gastronomy scene to 300 days of sunshine, culture and heritage dating back 7,000 years and sporting activities galore, Malta has rounded up 16 reasons why the destination should be on every travel bucket list in 2023.
1. Not Just One but Three Michelin Star Restaurants to Experience
The pandemic has led to travellers being unable to sample and taste the delights of Malta’s three Michelin star restaurants – Noni, Under Grain and De Mondion. In February 2020, these three outstanding restaurants were the first in the Archipelago’s history to be awarded Michelin star status, cementing Malta’s place on the world’s gastronomy scene. For travellers who love fine dining, 2023 will be the ideal time to visit as Malta will finally have its time in the spotlight to celebrate the achievements of its outstanding chefs. Michelin will return to the Archipelago in 2023 to announce whether more restaurants are going to be awarded a coveted star.
2. A Vegan and Vegetarian Holiday Dream
When travellers visit Malta there are a wide variety of restaurants, dishes and chefs that focus on serving the very best of vegan and vegetarian cuisine. From a tailored Gozo Picnic experience to vegan pasta and desserts at Pash & Jimmy’s Café, or Valletta’s healthy café – No. 43 – an eclectic hangout at Gugar where you will find a library and art gallery for emerging artists alongside delicious snacks – the Maltese islands demonstrate vegan and vegetarian food never has to lack creativity or flavour.
3. A Revival of Traditional Farming
Young Maltese farmers are reinventing Malta’s farm to table concept by reviving old techniques, traditional vegetables, and the repopulation of the native black bee. Blending the old ways with modern methods, a group of upcoming farmers are working with local restaurants to place Maltese ingredients back on the menu. From Jorge the amateur beekeeper to a neighbourhood shop concept, The Veg Box, started by Emanuela and Lucas, and community-supported farming launched by Cane and Cassandra just a year ago, diners can today taste home-grown ingredients at the island’s three Michelin star restaurants of Noni, De Mondion and Undergrain, as well as Verbena, Townhouse No.3 Bahia, Madiliena Lodge, Briju, to name but just a few.
4. New Wine Trail – Bring A Spare Suitcase Because You Cannot Buy Maltese Wine in the UK
The newly released Wine Trail, created to inspire wine enthusiasts, maps out the ultimate wine tasting break, highlighting where you can find all of Malta and Gozo’s vineyards. The newest vineyard to open is Ta’Betta, a family-run business offering tours and private wine tastings starting from €75 per person.
Visit https://www.tabetta.com/ or https://www.maltauk.com/winery-trail/ for more information.
5. Have A Multi-Generational or Intimate Group Trip
The travel trends for 2023 all point towards the rise in multi-generational trips as families and friends are looking to come together to make up for the time missed in 2020. Malta has a wide variety of villa and apartment options from farmhouses in Gozo to city-centre living in Valletta. Here are a few of the providers that sell villas in the Archipelago: James Villas, Tui Villas, and Oliver’s Travels.
6. Marsaxlokk’s Tal-Maghluq Area to Be Regenerated In €5 Million Project
The Marsaxlokk area is a big draw for tourists, with over 1.2 million visiting the quaint fishing village in 2019. The project, overseen by the Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation, aims to improve both the infrastructure and aesthetic of the area. From new pedestrian areas to improvements in Marsaxlokk Square and modern facilities along the harbour’s edge, travellers will be able to wander the beautified streets of the fishing village by the end of 2023.
7. Stay in A Maltese Aristocrat Family Home, Museum and Now B&B
Valletta is brimming with beautiful boutique hotels housed in restored palazzos. The latest is Casa Rocca Piccola Valletta’s most beautiful family-owned living museums and now an exclusive B&B. The 16th Century palace recently opened its doors to the public, allowing visitors to explore the stunning interiors, spread across 50 rooms, learn about the unique customs and traditions of Maltese nobility, plus spend the night in one of the palace’s spectacular bedrooms on a B&B basis.
8. Explore Malta’s Golden Age from Three Cities to Valletta And Fort St. Angelo
History buffs can explore the legacy of the Knights of St John throughout Malta. The Knights 250-year rule began in the Three Cities and Fort St Angelo, before they built the fortified city of Valletta after the Great Siege of 1565. Visitors to the islands can learn about the valiant battles that took place, explore the architectural feats including Baroque palaces and churches the Knights built throughout their reign, as well as an abundance of rich cultural gems including artistic masterpieces and sculptures.
9. Three Cities – The Alternative City Break
Whether you are wanting a solo city break, a trip with friends or a romantic getaway, Malta’s Three Cities, made up of Birgu, Senglea and Bormla, have something for everyone. Located across Malta’s Grand Harbour, the three fortified cities offer a wealth of history and culture, and an insight into authentic Maltese life. Undergoing something of a renaissance, the Three Cities pose a fantastic alternative city break to Valletta, Malta’s capital city and former European Capital of Culture, and are arguably the epicentre of Maltese history. Enjoying Malta’s year-round sun, visitors can wander along the beautiful streets, soaking up the relaxed Mediterranean atmosphere and exploring the many churches, cafes, and piazzas. A recommended place to stay is the boutique Cugo Gran Malta, with prices starting from €144 per room per night.
10. See Why Malta Tops IGLTA’s Rainbow Index – Named Host of EuroPride 2023
Malta will host EuroPride in 2023, which is Europe’s biggest gay pride event. The Archipelago has retained the number one place on the IGLA- Europe Rainbow Index for five years running. Malta blends traditional and historical culture with a contemporary and welcoming mindset which is celebrated in style each September during Malta Pride. Malta is proud of its inclusivity with parliament approving in 2015 the Gender Identity Act, legalised same-sex marriage in 2017 and introduced gender-neutral passports in 2018.
11. Have an Overseas Wedding
Malta boasts 365 churches, making it the ideal destination for a religious wedding, as the stunning baroque architecture provides a beautiful setting for the special day. Those opting for a non-religious wedding have an expansive choice of beautiful hotels, rustic farmhouses, beaches, or historical sites to choose from. Celebrate in true Maltese fashion with a large reception for guests, and couples can sail away into the sunset on a traditional Dgħajsa boat in Valletta’s Grand Harbour.
12. A New Route from Wizz Air
Wizz Air announced a new base earlier this year at Gatwick Airport, with a new route to Malta. Travellers can also take advantage of the budget airline’s Flex service as an add-on to their fare, which will allow flights to be cancelled up to three hours before departure, with 100 per cent of the fare immediately reimbursed in airline credit. For more information visit: https://wizzair.com/en-gb/flights/malta
13. Europe’s Best Diving Destination
Repeatedly voted Europe’s number one diving destination and the second-best diving site in the world, Malta has placed 12 additional historical wreck sites on its diving map. Providing a clear blue sea which boasts an abundance of reefs, stunning caverns and caves, trails around the Archipelago are designed for both beginner and advanced divers, making it an absolute must for divers worldwide. Diving enthusiasts can arrange to visit wreck sites by appointment with The Underwater Cultural Heritage Unit (UCHU), exploring incredible locations that range from a 2,700-year-old Phoenician shipwreck to WWI battleships and dozens of aircraft crash sites. For more information on booking a diving trip to Malta visit PADI Travel.
14. Cycle Around Malta
Cycling along the craggy edge of Malta West coast offers visitors the opportunity to experience the sites of the picturesque Blue Grotto and stunning Dingli Cliffs, Malta’s highest point, before admiring the majesty of the rich baroque architecture built by the Order of the Knights of St. John. Cyclists can also explore Gozo, stopping to take in the island’s stunning 360-degree views from the top of the Citadel fortification in Victoria before visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Hagar Qim & Mnajdra Temples – the oldest free-standing temples in the world. For more information on renting bikes in Malta visit: Be Green Malta.
15. MC Adventures in Malta
Adrenaline junkies can have their fix of adventure in Malta with MC Adventures, Malta’s leading extreme sports provider. The Maltese islands are an adventure lover’s playground, offering an expansive range of extreme activities including abseiling, freefalling and ziplining to name but a few. For the ultimate adrenaline-packed holiday, visit: https://mcadventure.com.mt/your-first-step-to-a-great-adventure.html
16. Watersport Experiences – Sailing, Kayaking, Paddle Boarding
For those wanting to explore the waters, but are not ready for the full diving experience, Malta offers year-round warm waters and excellent visibility for snorkelling at the Blue Lagoon. Visitors wanting to swim further out to sea can charter a sailing boat and take in the breath-taking views of the turquoise Mediterranean Sea before taking a dip. For a tranquil morning or afternoon on the water, visitors can go kayaking and paddle boarding to explore the coastline of the Archipelago which boasts varied topography, natural beauty and calm waters. Adrenaline junkies can also try flyboarding off Malta’s shores. Those who are brave enough to tackle the sport are lifted into the air over the water as they try to hold their balance to walk on water quite literally.
St Julian’s has been a hub for construction and staggering development in recent years, with residential blocks, hotels, catering establishments and retail stores now dominating its landscape.
However, a deep dive into the seaside town’s past shows that away from recent developments, St Julian’s has a rich history, perfectly characterised by the iconic Balluta Buildings.
Located in the area overlooking Balluta Bay, Balluta Buildings is an apartment block that was built in 1928 in the Art Nouveau style for the Marquis John Scicluna. Constructed to the designs of Maltese Architect Giuseppe Psaila, it is one of the finest, and last remaining examples of the architectural style in the Maltese Islands.
While Mr Psaila had worked on various other buildings in the Art Nouveau style, including a townhouse on Dingli Street, Sliema, which now belongs to Lombard Bank, Balluta Buildings is considered by many to be his greatest, and one of Malta’s most iconic buildings.
The block used to house some of Europe’s most beautiful and captivating apartments at the time, with high ceilings, spacious living areas, Maltese tiles, and also stunning sea views.
Comprised of three vertical structures each containing arched openings at the centre, together with rows of double windows on either side, the block’s façade is truly indicative of the elegance that characterised the wealthier communities of the early 20th century.
When first built, most of the apartments were occupied by Marquis Scicluna’s associates, with some of the tenants’ heirs still occupying the apartments to this day. At the block’s street level, there are some cafés and restaurants, including recently-opened L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele Malta.
Balluta Buildings has undergone renovation over recent years, with various sections of its façade and interior requiring restoration.
Classed as a Grade 1 monument, meaning it is of particular national, architectural and historical importance, and listed on the National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands, Balluta Buildings truly stands out as an architectural gem amongst St Julian’s mountains of concrete.
Article credits: https://whoswho.mt/en/balluta-buildings-one-of-malta-s-last-few-exhibits-of-art-nouveau-architectureCNN Travel – A world in three islands on the Mediterranean
In the middle of the Mediterranean Sea lies a small country made up of three inhabited islands and irresistible allure. A cookie-like tan is the dominant color here, thanks to its centuries-old buildings; the water is the bluest of blue, the cuisine is a feast, ancient traditions are still celebrated, and the people are proud but extremely friendly. Welcome to Malta.
Across its three inhabited islands – Malta, Gozo and Comino – you’ll find every sun-soaked aspect of the perfect vacation. There’ll be marveling at prehistoric temples, strolling around spectacular old towns, cooling off in the clear waters of beautiful beaches, and partying the nights away at endless beach bars and clubs. From the capital Valletta to bucolic Gozo, here’s where to get your fill.
Malta itself is the biggest island in the Maltese archipelago, and many visitors see no need to leave it. No wonder – the 95-square-mile (246-square-kilometer) island ticks all the boxes for history, culture, beaches and even nightlife.
Start at Valletta, the Maltese capital since 1571. It’s a city intrinsically linked with the Knights of Malta – a powerful military Catholic order thought to date back to the 11th century (still in existence today, it’s currently headquartered in Rome). Founded upon the orders of Jean de Valette, a grand master who was the Knights’ leader during the victorious Great Siege of 1565 when the Ottoman Empire failed to capture the island after nearly four months of battle, Valletta is an epic-looking city fortress.
Baroque palaces swagger beside quaint restaurant terraces, and lively coffee shops with knockout views occupy the stairs leading from the port to the Old Town. Red telephone booths – a reminder of 150 years of British rule from 1814 to 1964 – stand under Valletta’s trademark carved wooden balconies, painted all colors of the rainbow.
What to see? There are fantastic views of the Grand Harbour and its forts from Upper Barrakka Gardens. St. John’s Co-Cathedral is a mesmerizing monument to the wealth of Knights of Malta with two works by Caravaggio inside: a pensive “St. Jerome” and the “Beheading of St. John the Baptist,” his largest work of art. The National War Museum in Fort St. Elmo recounts Malta’s military history.
Culture here isn’t just ancient, though. The Floriana Granaries – once a storage space for grain, and now Malta’s largest public square – makes for a magical outdoor venue that regularly hosts festivals and concerts of world-famous artists.
To try some local specialties, head to the cozy Cafe Jubilee, which serves mouthwatering stuffat tal-fenek (slow-cooked rabbit, a Maltese favorite), superb ravioli with traditional Gozo cheese, and imqaret: date-filled pastry, often served with ice cream.
Squaring off against Valletta on two peninsulas straddling the Grand Harbour are the so-called Three Cities: Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua, neighboring fortified towns. It was here that, in 1565, the Great Siege of Malta was won, leading to the founding of Valletta – and in fact all three have two names, both pre- and post-siege.
Start with Vittoriosa (also known as Birgu, its pre-siege name), a small fortified town with some of the prettiest streets and churches on the island. Get lost among the winding pathways of the historic core with its colored doors and balconies, and statuettes of the Virgin Mary gracing the facades, windows, and street corners.
Proceed to equally gorgeous Cospicua (AKA Bormia) to admire the docks – overhauled by the Brits in the 19th century – and city gates. Finally, cross the harbor to Senglea (l’Isla) for a coffee overlooking the water and Valletta on the other side. DATE Art Café is an ideal choice.
When you leave Senglea, take the traditional dgħajsa boat – a shared wooden water taxi – back to Valletta.
The colorful boats are swaying lazily on gentle waves but the main street is far from calm. It’s Sunday and Marsaxlokk’s fish market is in full swing, gathering the restaurateurs, locals, and tourists from all over the island to buy the fresh catch brought by the local fishermen. This has always been a quiet fishing village on Malta’s southern coast.
Come here for its pretty waterfront (perfect for sunset walks), and a wide array of seafood restaurants whose terraces perch beside the water. As well as Sunday’s fish market, there’s an all-week market for souvenirs and local produce.
You’re here to eat seafood, of course. Choose between klamari mimlija (stuffed squid), grilled lampuki (mahi-mahi), and stuffat tal-qarnit, a delicious octopus stew. Afterwards, have a rest on the rocks – flat and made for sunbathing – at nearby St. Peter’s Pool, a cove with crystal-clear waters.
As you’d expect, Malta has natural sights aplenty. Perhaps the most famous is the Blue Grotto, on the island’s southern coast. From a viewpoint above you’ll get panoramic views of this spectacular system of sea caverns with their almost unreal blue waters. Boat trips – leaving from a nearby pier – take you inside.
While the grotto is one of the most popular (and touristy) spots on Malta, the translucent waters – allowing views of up to 16 feet down – make up for the crowds. The boat is also the best way to admire the majestic white cliffs of the surrounding coastline.
If you’re interested in archaeology and ancient history, you need to make a beeline for the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ħaġar Qim, a megalithic temple complex with sweeping views over the sea – just a few minutes’ drive from the Blue Grotto. Dating back as far as 3,600 BCE, it’s several thousand years older than the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge, and one of the oldest religious buildings on the planet. The main temple – which you can walk through, as they did all those years ago – is surrounded by three other megalithic structures. A five minute walk away is another temple, that of Mnajdra – another of the seven temples protected under that UNESCO listing.
So you want to see the real Malta, but you’re also partial to resort towns. The solution: Marsaskala, towards the southeastern tip of Malta island. Its harbor is among the most scenic on the island, the seafront promenade is ideal for contemplative walks or scenic runs, and the center is dotted with pubs, bars, restaurants and takeaways.
The real beauty of Marsaskala, however, is that it’s more affordable and less glamorous than the better known resort towns of St. Julian’s or Sliema. Just south of the town is the beautiful St. Thomas Bay, where you can have a swim. It’s extremely family-friendly, with a children’s playground, picnic tables and shower. It even caters for both sand and rocky beach lovers, with limestone rocks on one part, and a sandy beach the other.
Time stands still in Mdina. The medieval capital of Malta, it wears its former status with grace, mesmerizing with a kaleidoscope of palazzos, shaded little squares, elegant fortifications and bougainvillea-covered facades. Today, its strategic position in the center of the island is less crucial for defense possibilities – it’s more about those photogenic 360-degree views.
Today Mdina resembles an open-air museum rather than a full city – only 300 people live inside the ancient walls. But it’s one of Malta’s most evocative places, and an essential stop to get a history fix.
See the fantastic baroque interior of St Paul’s Cathedral, get to Bastion Square for the observation tower on top of a bastion on the city walls – it offers fantastic views of the island. Don’t miss the 18th-century Palazzo Vilhena, home to Malta’s National Museum of Natural History.
Just outside the city walls is a small bar named Crystal Palace serving pastizz, a classic Maltese street snack in the shape of savory pastry with various fillings. Try the ones with ricotta cheese or mushy peas. Or, better, try both.
The Romans also left their mark in Malta and Mdina bears signs of their presence. St. Paul’s and St. Agata’s catacombs give Rome’s catacombs a run for their money. Meanwhile, Domvs Romana is a museum on the site of an ancient villa, displaying items from the home, including mosaics.
Once a popular residence for wealthy Maltese and the British, who built many Victorian and Art Nouveau villas here, today Sliema – just north of Valletta – is the commercial heart of Malta with international offices, shopping malls, never-ending restaurants and bars, and high residential complexes. For the Maltese, it’s a love-it-or-hate-it kind of place with controversy surrounding its rapid development. For tourists, it’s a good place to base yourselves if you want to be close to everything but hyper-connected.
The promenade is home to beach bars, plenty of spots to take a dip, and knockout views of Valletta, while “party boats” leave nightly from the harbor.
You may have heard about Malta as an island of wild nightlife. Well, that’s Paceville, located in St Julian’s, the next harbor town after Sliema, heading north from Valletta. Less glamorous than Ibiza or Mykonos, it’s a loud and rowdy party area, reaching its bombastic crescendo in the triangle formed by Paceville Piazza, Santa Rita, and St. George’s Road. There’s lots of booze, screaming crowds, noisy pumping music, and late-night snacks and hookah bars. Be prepared to stand in long lines at nightclub entrances – and be prepared to find not much space inside.
Mellieħa Bay and St. Paul’s Bay
If exploring from the comfort of a resort is something you’re looking forward to, then Mellieħa Bay and St. Paul’s Bay fit the bill. At the northern tip of Malta, closer to Comino than to Valletta, they both have a wide selection of hotels big and small, affordable and upscale, with swimming pools and without.
Għadira Bay in Mellieħa is a long and shallow sandy beach that’s perfect for families. Mellieħa village, located above the bay, has a more remote, more local feel to it thanks to its hilltop location.
Over in St. Paul’s Bay, Bugibba is a classic seaside resort town with fast food chains, a kaleidoscope of bars and restaurants, a promenade and even an aquarium. Qawra Point Beach on the northeastern tip of Bugibba, allows you to take a plunge with views of Malta’s rocky northern coast.
Before being a filming location for “Game of Thrones,” “Troy,” “Assassin’s Creed” and the most recent “Jurassic World Dominion,” Malta stood as a background to the 1980 Robin Williams-led musical “Popeye.” While the movie itself didn’t fare that well, either at the box office or with critics, its set remained near Mellieħa and was turned into an entertaining family theme park.
Gozo and Victoria
The second-biggest island of the Maltese archipelago, laidback Gozo fills in the blanks that Malta left. Getting there is straightforward – regular ferries go from Ċirkewwa on Malta’s northern tip to Gozo where life is slower, nature is wilder, and the atmosphere is more relaxing.
Victoria, the capital, gives Mdina and the Three Cities a run for their money. Start your visit with the magnificent, high-up Cittadella – an ancient walled city with a well-preserved historic core and mindblowing views of the island. Descend to charming Victoria – it’s buzzing with life, with restaurant terraces spilling out onto shaded piazzas and traditional Maltese buff-colored streets. Choose a cafe, order gelato, and forget about the hassle of city life. Gozo is great for that.
It’s even better for going diving, with several world-class locations around the island. The Blue Hole, on the west coast, is a 50-foot deep tube-like rock formation filled by the sea, with an archway and cave at its bottom – pass under the arch and you’ll be in the open sea. It’s a truly mesmerizing dive.
Dwejra Bay, where it’s located, is part of an epic coastline dominated by high cliffs, with the stunning Fungus Rock rising up from the sea. The scenery may ring a bell for “Game of Thrones” fans. Daenerys and Khal Drogo’s Dothraki wedding was filmed here, in front of the Azure Window – a fragile limestone arch straddling the sea. Sadly, the arch collapsed in 2017. Now, you can only see the remains of it by diving.
Imagine a building that is 5,500 years old. In the quiet Ix-Xagħra village in the heart of Gozo you’ll find Ġgantija, a spellbinding complex of two prehistoric megalithic temples, and another site given World Heritage Status by UNESCO. Believed to be important ceremonial sites for Neolithic people, they sprawl over a whopping 77,000 square feet. There’s also an interactive museum to give you more information about their usage and ancient appearance.
Despite the passing of all the centuries, it’s still a calm, meditative place. Archaeologists have spent decades researching them, and have yet to discover exactly how they were used. Animal remains found on site point towards sacrifices, while the abundance of exaggeratedly voluptuous feminine figurines suggests a fertility cult.
If Malta is the urban island and Gozo its lowkey sibling, Comino is the wild cousin. The population is a modest two people, there are no cars, and no signs of globalization – just the untouched Mediterranean. Most visitors come for the Blue Lagoon – a shimmering, shallow bay whose water is an almost unreal azure color.
But while other visitors go straight back to the main islands, you should stay on Comino. Just a mile away is the 17th-century St. Mary’s Tower, one of the defensive structures erected by the Knights of Malta to signal the enemy’s approach with cannon fire – the Comino Channel was a strategic waterway between Malta and Gozo.
For beaches, you need Santa Marija Bay and San Niklaw Bay, both within a mile of both Blue Lagoon and St. Mary’s Tower. Thoroughly rested, hike up Ġebel Comino, the highest point on the island – although at around 275 feet, it’s not exactly high, it has beautiful views of all the islands. For snorkeling, try Cominotto, a tiny island right next to Comino.
Article credits: https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/malta-gozo-comino-sights/index.htmlMosta Oratory Being Restored From WW2 Damage
Restoration work on the façade of the Oratory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mosta began in August 2022, and are expected to be completed by the end of May 2023. The Restoration Directorate were responsible for this project, from the documentation to the work on the Oratory itself.
The Oratory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was completed in 1935 and inaugurated in 1940, based on the design of architect Nettu Mifsud Ellul. During World War II, a bomb fell in the square in front of the chapel, causing some damage to its façade, which can still be seen today.
Mosta mayor Chris Grech noted how Mosta has changed over the years from an agricultural village to a large residential city and an important commercial centre.
“We cannot make the advances we have achieved without appreciating the legacy left to us by our predecessors, Sacred Heart of Jesus in Mosta is a cradle of civic, religious, dramatic and sporting culture for the whole generations of ‘young people and adolescents. For them the Oratory was their second home”. Concluded the Mayor.
Read the full article here: https://lovinmalta.com/culture/mosta-oratory-being-restored-from-ww2-damage/
Il Barocco maltese, tra architettura e musica
IL LEGAME CON IL GUSTO DOMINANTE TRA XVII E XVIII SECOLO IN TUTTA EUROPA SI ESPRIME SOPRATTUTTO NELLE ARCHITETTURE PUBBLICHE E RELIGIOSE DA SCOPRIRE NELL’ARCIPELAGO DI MALTA, GOZO E COMINO
A gennaio l’arcipelago di Malta celebra la sua identità barocca. Per tutto il mese, ormai da dieci anni a questa parte, Valletta accoglie infatti un programma di eventi diffusi negli spazi più emblematici della città, dall’Auberge de Provence al Gran Salon alla Concattedrale di San Giovanni al Teatru Manoel. Sotto la direzione artistica di Kenneth Zammit Tabona, il calendario del Valletta Baroque Festival (che si è appena concluso) attira estimatori della musica classica da tutto il mondo, proponendo concerti dedicati ad autori di musica barocca (da Bach a Handel a Mozart e Scarlatti), ma anche coinvolgenti ibridazioni di epoche e stili, dal Vivaldi interpretato in chiave rock ai Beatles letti alla maniera settecentesca. Ma un contributo fondamentale al successo della kermesse arriva proprio dalle ambientazioni che fanno da cornice agli spettacoli, tra stucchi dorati, ampollose decorazioni, sculture ed espedienti architettonici di grande impatto scenografico. Per questo, ben oltre la chiusura del festival, è sempre un buon momento per esplorare Valletta e l’arcipelago maltese in cerca del suo passato barocco.
IL BAROCCO A MALTA. LA STORIA
Prima dell’introduzione del Barocco a Malta, lo stile architettonico predominante sull’isola si rifaceva agli esiti manieristi dell’epoca rinascimentale, attraverso l’attività del più quotato architetto pubblico locale, Girolamo Cassar, che progettò molti edifici pubblici, privati e religiosi nella capitale di Valletta, che al tempo si andava costruendo. Tra XVII se XVIII secolo, però, sotto il dominio dell’Ordine di San Giovanni, iniziò a imporsi il nuovo gusto che già aveva conquistato in buona parte l’area mediterranea e l’Europa continentale. Il cambio di passo è tradizionalmente associato alla figura dell’ingegnere bolognese Bontadino de Bontadini, incaricato di costruire l’acquedotto di Wignacourt all’inizio del Seicento: tra 1612 e 1615, Bontadini realizzò un impianto scenografico pienamente aderente alla ricerca di stupore e meraviglia caratteristica del nuovo approccio estetico, tra torri d’acqua, fontane e un magnifico arco. Lo stile divenne popolare tra la metà e la fine del XVII secolo (del 1635 è la Chiesa dei Gesuiti di Francesco Buonamici, altro “testo” ritenuto cruciale per la diffusione dello stile a Valletta) e raggiunse il suo apice nel corso del Settecento, a cui si lega la realizzazione di opere monumentali come l’Auberge de Castille. All’inizio dell’Ottocento, durante il dominio britannico, l’architettura neoclassica sarebbe riuscita a imporsi sulla stagione barocca, capace però di protrarre la sua influenza fino al Novecento, come dimostrano alcuni edifici religiosi commissionati tra XIX e XX secolo, ancora legati a stilemi ascrivibili al gusto settecentesco.
IL TOUR DEL BAROCCO TRA MDINA E VALLETTA
A Malta, il Barocco di grandiose cupole e facciate riccamente decorate, pur contenuto nello sfarzo e votato alla sobrietà, fu esemplato principalmente su modelli italiani e francesi – tra le opere seicentesche si annoverano anche la ristrutturazione dell’Auberge de Provence e l’Hostelin de Verdelin – anche se non mancano riferimenti alla corrente spagnola. Oggi un tour di riscoperta di quella che per l’architettura – principalmente religiosa – di Malta è stata un’epoca d’oro può iniziare dai progetti firmati da Lorenzo Gafà, che nella seconda metà del XVII secolo fu incaricato di guidare molti cantieri sull’isola: il più ambizioso lo vide all’opera per la ricostruzione, tra il 1696 e il 1705, della Cattedrale di San Paolo a Mdina, danneggiata nella sua struttura medievale durante il terremoto siciliano del ’93. Ma Gafà lavorò anche altrove, realizzando la Chiesa di San Lorenzo a Birgu (1681-97; in città ha sembianze barocche anche il Palazzo dell’Inquisitore, oggi Museo Popolare) e la Cattedrale dell’Assunzione a Victoria, sull’isola di Gozo (1697-1711). Nel frattempo anche numerosi artisti furono coinvolti nella ridecorazione di edifici già esistenti: a Valletta, la Concattedrale di San Giovanni, dove ancora oggi si apprezza il ciclo di opere pittoriche realizzato da Mattia Preti negli Anni Sessanta del XVII secolo.
Il passaggio al Settecento fu però segnato principalmente dai lavori di ricostruzione che si resero necessari dopo il devastante terremoto di cui sopra. E fu la città vecchia di Mdina a subire l’evoluzione più significativa: il programma di riassetto urbanistico, che determinò la demolizione di edifici medievali danneggiati e la nascita di nuove opere pubbliche, si espletò durante la reggenza del Gran Maestro António Manoel a partire dal 1722, sotto la direzione di Charles François de Mondion. La Mdina odierna, antica capitale dell’isola, colpisce per la magniloquenza del progetto dell’epoca, ispirato al Barocco francese, tra la Porta Principale (1724) e il portale della Porta dei Greci (1724), la Torre dello Standardo (1725), il Palazzo Vilhena (1726-28) e la Corte Capitanale (1726-28). Tornando a Valletta, data alla seconda metà del XVIII secolo un edificio simbolo della città come l’Auberge de Castille, progettato dall’architetto maltese Andrea Belli, con il portale d’ingresso introdotto da una teoria di gradini e incorniciato dalla monumentale facciata scandita da paraste e chiusa in alto da una cornice aggettante. Oggi il palazzo è la sede del Primo Ministro di Malta. C’è poi il Teatru Manoel, inaugurato nel 1732, con scalinate in marmo e stucchi in stile Rococò. In omaggio al legame con la cultura barocca, persino uno dei più recenti cantieri di architettura religiosa, che nel 2005 ha portato all’inaugurazione della chiesa parrocchiale di Santa Venera, è stato improntato allo stile dell’epoca, com’è evidente nella decorazione della facciata.
IL BAROCCO A GOZO. LA CATTEDRALE DELL’ASSUNZIONE
L’eco di questo gusto contagiò anche Gozo, dove, come già ricordato, fu al lavoro anche Lorenzo Gafà, per realizzare la Cattedrale dell’Assunzione a Victoria, sul luogo dove si trovava un tempio dedicato a Giunone, di cui ancora si ammirano i capitelli conservati nel vicino Museo della Cattedrale. Forte la somiglianza con la cattedrale di Mdina, la chiesa di Gozo si distingue per l’unico alto campanile che svetta sul retro e per il soffitto che finge l’esistenza di una cupola, dipinta in trompe l’oeil. A Victoria si visita anche la coeva Basilica di San Giorgio, ricostruita dopo il terremoto della Val di Noto, celebre per la facciata completamente rivestita in marmo e per il ricco corredo di opere d’arte (torna, tra gli altri, Mattia Preti) custodito all’interno.
Article credits: https://www.artribune.com/turismo/2023/02/barocco-malta-architettura-musica/
Secret Garden In Valletta Monastery Now Open
The Mysterium Fidei Monastery which has been secluded in the heart of Malta’s capital for over four centuries has just opened for the public… and the initial photos look incredible.
The secret garden forms part of Valletta’s Monastery of St. Catherine’s, home to the Augustinian Cloistered nuns. And after more than 400 years, it’s opening its rusted doors as part of an immersive experience called the Mysterium Fidei Museum.
Brought to life by Hidden Valletta Ltd., the new experience promises two tours. The monastery itself was founded in 1575 and was initially intended to care for female orphans. “From within the walls of this monastery, what is probably the last generation of nuns carry on the legacy to this day,” the tour says of the cloistered nuns who made an oath to lead a life of prayer within these walls.
Meanwhile, visitors will also be treated to a tour of the underground complex, which was originally used as a quarry to build the monastery above it. “From the ribbed vaulted rooms, the peaceful, central garden, the fiery ovens, and the undisturbed burial place, this complex is as fascinating as it is unique,” the museum explains.
Located on the corner of Strait Street and St. Christopher’s Street, the new museum is open on mornings and afternoons from Tuesday to Saturday, and from 8:30am to 2pm on Sundays. For more information – and a more detailed list of Opening Hours – check out their Facebook page and website here.25 years of Colours of Malta 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.’