Maltese Balconies – variety of shapes, colours and purposes

by Anastasiia Linnas on March 30, 2015, no comments

Vittoriosa Balconies

Inspired by the talk on the origins and evolution of Maltese Balconies by Adrian Strickland, I’ve decided to share several interesting facts and also my humble collection of photos of balconies in Malta.

Talk on the origins and evolution of Maltese Balconies by Adrian Strickland gathered more than 400 attendants

Talk on the origins and evolution of Maltese Balconies by Adrian Strickland gathered more than 400 attendants

Probably the most famous balconies in Malta are Timber balconies, which could be found in aplenty in Sliema. Those are wooden and very colourful balconies that usually match up with wooden doors and window frames.

Timber balconies are beautiful not only because of the colour but decoration of a stone base. One can find crosses, floral ornaments, lions and caryatides.

Unfortunately a lot of ornaments are lost in the process of renovation. Some house owners prefer just cut them off rather than spend on restoration.

Here are some other styles of balconies in Sliema.

Interesting fact: With arrival of British to Malta, locals were introduced to modern invention – WC. The easiest way to build in canalisation was to let pipes go along façades (rather then in the walls), that is why a lot of balconies were converted to bathrooms. Some evidence of that still cold be found in Valletta.

According to a gentlemen from the audience (after the talk), before WC gained wide popularity, at least in Gozo, people would “collect”…hhmm..dump into a bucket and put it outside. These buckets afterward were collected and taken away from the city. People were to buy stamps in post office every week in order to pay for such service :)

Valletta balconies are very diverse – you can find nearly each and every type of balconies and decorations there.

Interesting fact: Some balconies are decorated with faces that show their tongues (tongue-masks). Tongue is a symbol of man power is used in order to protect house from an evil eye. Those mask originated in Egypt, where they portrayed the god “Bes”.  However in Egypt Bes would show other, more manly part of his body, rather than tongue – which would be unheard off in Catholic Malta. That is why the symbol was changed.

The old capital of Malta – Mdina – the silent city holds quite a few treasures of balconies’ architecture.

Not so grotesque and tidy, but nevertheless picturesque balconies could be found along waterfront in Pieta.

I really love walking in the city and observe this amazing variety of shapes and colours of Maltese balconies! Some look ancient, others are modern and simple – and sometimes they stand side by side. For now, one of my favourite cities is Vittoriosa (Birgu) and here are its balconies.

Interesting fact: Around 60 years ago in some parts of Malta a beautiful bouquet or plan on the balcony meant that there is a nice lady living in the house who reached a marriageable age :)

If you happen to be around in Malta on 15th of April (2015) – I advice to visit next even of Malta Heritage “Interpreting the Symbols on the Tombstones and Monuments of St John’s Co-Cathedral, by Dane Munro”.

Don’t forget to check Malta textures gallery that I’ve posted before!



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