Traditional Southern European Architecture in Malta

L-Ghajn tal-Hasselin

These wash houses were built in the 16th Century and some of them still stand to this day found in places all over Malta and Gozo. Arched shelters were built over the springs to make life easier for local women. They were built in such a way that an irrigation system of stone gutters carried the water up from the springs. Although technology has advanced, one can still see some local women using the wash house especially in Fontana, Gozo.

Traditional Balconies

The Maltese Balcony is enclosed and made of wood with windows all around, giving character through colour and decorative motifs that enrich the visual aspect of Maltese streets. The balcony is said to have arabic origin with the idea that housewives stayed indoors, watching the world go by on their balcony through a hidden window where one could see through to the street below, it was their means of knowing the current news and gossip about neighbours. It was quite enjoyable as the balcony was very cool and breezy. Today the balconies are still part of the Maltese daily life, a way of knowing news about others and decorating the balcony for a religious feast with drapes, lights and pictures of saints.

Balcony Supports

In seeing the balconies, one can also notice the base supporting the Maltese Balconies especially in Valletta. These are often the focus of lavish decoration on the balcony. Some bases portray ugly faces with menacing, wicked expressions and outstretched tongues which look weird as decoration motifs but it was believed to ward off evil spirits while others are simple curves.


The modern Parliament was designed by Renzo Piano, close to Valletta’s entrance. The facade is sculpted as though eroded by the sun’s direction. The end result is modern architecture mixed the old historical ambience.

Royal Opera house


The original Royal Opera house was designed by Edward Middleton Barry. It was one of the most beautiful iconic buildings in Valletta, used as an opera house and performing arts venue. The Royal Opera house was hit from aerial bombing in the Second World War and unfortunately it was never re-built except for the memory in photos. The Royal opera house is now an open air theatre re-designed by Renzo Piano which is now a performance venue.

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