Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The colourful balconies of Malta

While travelling across the length and breadth of Malta, what really caught my eyes were the lovely limestone houses and historical buildings adorned with intricately designed and brightly painted wooden balconies, which are as colorful as its people. 

One of the streets in Valletta
 And I couldn’t resist myself from capturing the photos of these vibrant balconies that lend a special character to every building and house.

Bright and colourful balconies near Valletta seaside

These pretty wooden balconies reminded me of the alluring Rajasthani "Jharokhas", which unlike Maltese balconies are carved out of either marble or sandstone

Wooden balconies painted in cream and green colour
However, I am sure the purpose behind creating these wooden balconies in Malta must have been very similar to what we had in India and that was to allow women to have a good view of the outside world without stepping out while respecting and maintaining the cultural standards of modesty.

Check out the beautiful balconies adorning the houses

The traditional Maltese balconies are made of red deal wood, which is locally known as “Ta-Hamar” and are generally supported by Baroque style carvings of limestone.

Stone carvings supporting the wooden balcony

While all the houses in Malta are yellow in colour as they are made of yellow limestone, the balconies are painted in every possible colour that you can think of, which strongly reflect the personality of the people who live in these houses.

Wooden balcony painted in orange color in Mdina

The most common colors used for painting the wooden balconies are red, green, and cream. If you observe these balconies closely, you will realize they have evolved with time as their  designs are influenced by the cultures and traditions of people who ruled over Maltese Islands from Arabs and Ottomans to Italians and, Britishers.

A historical building in Valletta adorned with green coloured balconies
Since Malta has been experiencing a construction boom for last couple of years, people have moved to swanky apartments and flats in cities abandoning their traditional houses whose balconies are now in derelict state.

An abandoned house in Rabat

However to restore and conserve them, and the craftsmanship that goes behind creating these stunning architectural masterpieces, Malta Environment and Planning Authority has been running various “Timber Balconies Restoration Grant Scheme” around the country through which residents can avail financial assistance to restore their traditional balconies.

Hotels boasting traditional balconies in Valletta
I know numerous cities across the globe are known for their unique wooden balconies designs, but for me, traditional wooden balconies would always remain synonymous to Malta as they drew me to explore and experience the beauty of this charming nation.