Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Alleys in Zabbar

More often than not, streets and alleys reflect the history of a particular place. These alleys can be still found in many old villages of Malta. Last summer while strolling through Main Street in Zabbar I got captivated by the number of enchanting alleys that could be found offshooting from it.
These alleys known as 'sqaqien' in Maltese are etched in Zabbar's village character. They are still throbbing with humanity and the houses in these alleys have remained untouched by touristic development. The narrow streets are haunting and enchanting, with some of the best quintessential Maltese architecture that one can see. Our ancestors designed these narrow winding alleys because they offered shade from the scorching summer sun. Today we're witnessing the decline of these historical alleys. High buildings are replacing the alleys that reflected the history of that place. As you can see in the photos below each alley has particular characteristics that distinguish it from other alleys...

'One sometimes encounters fine architecture discreetly hidden away, such as the one in Sqaq Berqi, an offshoot of Main Street.'

As I was leafing through a book about Zabbar the above quote caught my attention. What struck me is that 'the fine architecture' that the author is referring to happens to be an 18th century house which used to belong to my husband's grandparents. In the photo, on the right page of the book you can see the house in its heydey.

This is how it looks today. I had the occasion to explore this lovely old house which I'm sure has seen so many generations grow and dwell inside it. It has withstood the ravages of the two world wars. Indeed, it's a pity that now it's up for sale waiting for someone to give it its due attention.


Juniper said...

Wow! This is just around the corner from us, I have walked past it many many a time. In fact I believe I may have bought a rabbit from the woman who lives there. We are two alleys up from here. I too really Iike that blue gate, I pass by her every morning on my way to work.

Sue said...

What a coinicidence to find that particular house in your book!
Happy you found time to update your blog!
A kiss to your little one!

Rosanne Dingli said...

Oh - I want it! That's what I miss most about Malta - the architecture: the thick limestone walls and inimitable masonry. This is the kind of house I dream about. This blog has been a kind of time-travel instance. See how the middle storey has a lower ceiling then the top or the street floors? It was called the mezzanine floor, where it was warmer in winter, and where the children and servants mostly stayed. Above and below, the rooms were more ornate, with high ceiling. What sort of price would a house like that fetch?

Loree said...

Let's hope that whoever buys the house will leave it intact. It looks like a beautiful building.

Suki said...

@ Juniper: so you live in one of those alleys? How nice!
@ Sue: yes I'm doing my best to update my blog but sometimes it takes me a fortnight to finish one post.
@ Rosanne: I had no idea about the structure of the building..thanks sharing your info with me.
@Loree: I agree with you - I hope they're not allowed to knock it down and turn into a block of flats like the ones next to it.

Doreen said...

What an interesting post Zen! Like all of you I do hope the new owners are not after knocking it down ~ houses like these should be protected, it is a pity the neighbouring house was turned into flats...too much of this going on and the island is losing its identity!
I'm happy for you that you had this particular book with this picture : )

Rosanne Dingli said...

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