A walk in one of the Three Villages

Today we will go through the elegant streets of one of the Three Villages found in the heart of Malta.  Balzan, although a small village, is rich in architectural heritage coming from different eras of architectural history.

Like many other villages in Malta, Main Street or Triq il-Kbira is the wealthiest in architectural merit when compared to other streets of the village.  Our itinerary will start through this most important street crossing through the village centre.  As soon as one leaves Lija or the road passing at the back of Sant Anton Gardens one finds himself at the beginning of Main Street.  The first building which cannot escape ones eyes is a large baroque house used as the civic centre of the village hosting the offices of Balzan Local Council, a health clinic and Maltapost Offices.  The magnificence of this building lies in it high floors and accentuated by the large open balustraded balconies typical of the baroque period.

When one walks further towards the centre there is a series of town houses which together forms a pleasing urban setting through their proportions, scale and architectural detail.  The slight bends along this part of Main Street provoke ones imagination on what could be expected next.  Architectural detailing found on each and every building along this street such as decorated window frames, balconies and corbels keeps your eyes flowing from one side to another.

In a small open space along Main Streets there is a stone statue of Our Lady in front of a small chapel dedicated to Saint Mary.  A building along Main Street, just in front of this church has a window with a Melitan molding surround typical of the late 16th Century architecture. From this point one can take an introductory view of the parish church.  Just in front of the parish church one finds two large palaces.  The two storey palace, or Palazzo Olivier has a columned main entrance with a coat of arms just over the arch of the open balcony.  The single storey palace presently hosts the local band club and is elegant through its architectural simplicity.

In any village in Malta, the most important and central monument in the urban composition of the village is the parish church, Balzan is not an exception.  The church was built in the last decade of the 17th Century and its architect is not known although it has been attributed to Francesco Bonamici.  Its architect made full use of the Tuscan Doric order which although simple when compared to other architectural orders is pleasing to the eye.   Its parvis is decorated with a series of stone statues given various points of interest at street level.

HPIM0320The church contrary to most other churches of the period has one bell tower.  The best view of this bell tower can be obtained as one walks Main Street from Birkirkara side.

We will finish up our tour at Balzan in Three Churches Street and its surrounds which besides the series of old chapels and the parish cross in front of them one finds an range of other buildings which have interesting architectural features.  One can clearly state that this part is the oldest part of the village.  In fact there are a number of vernacular buildings including one which also features a roundel on its ground floor facade over the remissa arch.  A building in front of the chapels has a series of interesting windows with rich architectural decoration probably dating to the early 17th Century.

In a side street along Three Churches Street one finds a large building which is known as Palazzo Bosio.  The facade is renaissance in style and has a wide open balustraded balcony running almost along the whole facade.  From here one turns into Providence Street.  In my opinion in this street one finds the best two examples of fine baroque architecture in this village, two large houses which have very elegant open stone balconies with flamboyant baroque decoration.

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