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Strange Beautiful Things About Malta

April 29, 2015

Malta is one of its kind. Its atmosphere is created by blending several rather unusual and rare "ingredients" together.
It's a strange, but beautiful tiny country whose uniqueness I'll try to illustrate, dissect and analyze in this article.

Malta is certainly not a good beach destination, nor party nest, but it sure is exciting culturally.

An ideal trip to Malta should involve cultural immersion and sightseeing. During it, you will often feel as as if you've traveled back in time...


Malta's capital, Valletta - viewed from Sliema

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Malta is weird.
It has always been a semi-isolated bastion of Christianity and for centuries it struggled for independence and survival.

Perhaps this is the main reason why the heavily fortified, self-sufficient deeply religious Malta has evolved in a unique way.

Elegance Emanates from Malta's Stone Buildings

A plethora of buildings that I saw were made of locally extracted stone, which has a beautiful desert sand colour that attributes such a unique old feel to the buildings.

Even if they're humble houses, the pillars, the balconies and various ornaments make give them this elevated degree of sophistication.

Xewkija buildings

In central Xewkija, on the Island of Gozo

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I wrote about the "museum feel" of the buildings in this article already.

In fact, even Maltese villages have city-like elegance reflected through the architecture of the buildings.

Ghajnsielem's elegant buildings

Houses in Ghajnsielem, on the island of Gozo

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The Beautiful Maltese Balconies

Perhaps the most iconic element of Maltese culture are the traditional balconies.

Most of the time these are wooden "box"-shaped balconies with straight lines and painted usually in dark or medium colours.
Green, blue and red, dark crimson, as well as yellow are the most popular colours.

Balconies in Sliema

Traditional balconies in Sliema

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If you want to go out spotting balconies, then some of the best places are the towns of Valletta and Sliema.

These balconies were first used in Valletta in the late 17th century. Later, their use has expanded.
Their origin is disputed. Some claim it's "unique Maltese", others suggest Spanish influence.

Blue balconies

And, in blue...

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Maltese People are Very Religious

Malta has been a bastion of Christianity for centuries and the very vast majority of locals (95 %) believe in the existence of God.

Most of the Maltese are Roman Catholics and religion in taught at schools (it's compulsory).

Religious statue in Sliema

Religious statue on a house in Sliema

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What I've found fascinating is that villages and towns with a population barely above 2,000 have immense cathedrals, fortified churches, which could compete with the vast majority of continental Europe's similar buildings.

Some of the best examples: Victoria's Citadel, Xewkija's Rotunda Church, just to name a few.

Religion is at any corner in Malta. Sometimes literally.

An abundance of statues and statuettes, painted ceramics are placed even on the humblest houses.
The physical representations contain depictions of saints, Jesus and Mary and quite often show Saint George defeating the dragon.

Some of the most beautiful depictions of these I encountered in Victoria, Sliema, Valletta.

Take strolls on the narrow winding streets between old historic buildings and observe the religious motifs.

They are like embellishments to otherwise architecturally already very interesting buildings.

A large number of streets and even the town of St. Julian's bear the names of religious personalities - such as saints.

St. John's Co-cathedral, Valletta

St. John's Co-cathedral in Valletta has the most beautiful interior

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The St. John's Co-cathedral Baroque churches interior depicted above has a rare beauty, even on a global scale.

It is one of the best places in Valletta. It most likely is the very top attraction.

Ceramic plaque, Mdina

A ceramic plaque in Mdina

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In conclusion, I can say that besides the tiny Vatican, Malta might as well be the most religious state in the entire Europe.

Many of the visitors arrive to Malta in groups organized by religious institutions.

St. Julian's

St. Julian's is a town named after the patron saint of hunters

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Maltese Language

It is a Semitic language considered to be a blend between Arabic, standard Italiand and Sicilian with a strong English influence.

But to me it sounded something totally not of this planet, but so nice.

Maltese language is co-official with English. So, communicating with the locals will be very easy. Everyone speak English very well.

Maltese language plaque

A plaque I encountered in Valletta

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Malta is Heavily Fortified

Especially Valletta and the towns around the two harbours on its sides, are heavily fortified.

The entire Malta is full of fortified churches, guard towers, fortresses with very thick walls. And most impressive immense and thick walls can be seen around Valletta and Floriana.

Fort Ricasoli

Fort Ricasoli in Kalkara, as seen from Valletta

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Yes, Malta Has a Skyscraper Too!

And I do hope they won't build another one. It just doesn't suit the place at all.
This is not the kind of thing someone would expect or even like to see on Malta. In Dubai it's OK, in Manhattan it's vital and it's part of daily life in Shanghai as well, but somehow a skyscraper doesn't fit into the Maltese views - not with this design!

The Portomasso Business Tower is Malta's only skyscraper. 23 storeys and 98 m high.

Malta's Portomaso Business Tower

The Portomaso Business Tower marks the panorama of St. Julian's

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Escape Hunter

About the Author:

Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...


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