This week’s focus will be on one of the small villages in the south of Malta which is known on the heritage maps of the world for the prehistoric temple one finds in the same village. This time we will not be looking at this temple but at the architectural heritage one finds along the streets of this small village.
We will start our tour from Triq iz-Zejtun, precisely from Villa Barbaro. A traditional red-washed facade with a rare convex protruding main door on the ground floor and a not so common timber and glass balcony on the first floor give the unique character to this building. A large garden on the side of the villa gives the wealthy image which it deserves.
As soon as one leaves Villa Barbaro’s garden one finds the way into Triq il-Kbira. Along this street, as we saw in previous walks one finds the most important buildings of the village paraded along its streetscape. The first pair of houses, with a baroque taste, is considered as the prelude to this exposition. In contrast to these one finds Villa Cecy a charming 20th Century Villa with elegant bay windows on its facade.
Palazzo Spadafora is the next in line. A wide fronted palace in a mannerist architectural idiom. Few metres away a single storey palace with a shallow front garden some years ago was used as a health farm. In front of this palace one finds the parish priest’s house elevated from street level and reached by an open baroque flight of steps. Next to it St. Rocco’s church with it’s central baroque decorated facade.
Walking further into Triq il-Kbira one starts getting a glimpse of the parish church. Some time in the past a decision was taken to build a new facade to this early 17th Century church, however the project was stopped half way. The elegance of this church lies in its bell towers through the best use of architectural proportion in their design.
The area at the back of the parish church (Triq Brittanika and alleys) is considered as the oldest part of the village. Luckily most of it survived a ‘slum’ clearance housing project. Here we find old vernacular buildings with covered arched alleyways. There is also a 16th Century window with a ‘fat’ triple moulded surround and a number of baroque decorated open stone balconies.
From this area one walks into a comparatively more modern area, Triq Raħal Ġdid, dating to the early 19th Century and later. Of special interest are two architectural features of quite distinctive eras. The first is a street shrine in a neo-gothic style at the corner with Vjal Simmons and the other is a medieval roundel at the corner with Triq Lanzon. At the corner between this street and Triq Santa Marija there is a prominent facade of a house which has a mannerist central entrance.
In Triq Santa Marija, after passing the recently developed part of it, one notices Villa Tarxien with its dominant turret and large surrounding garden, next to it a beautiful gateway of Villa Junalistar. At one of the bends of this street one finds a small church dedicated to Santa Marija. Across the road at the beginning of Triq il-Blata there is another vernacular building with a very old open stone balcony.
We finish up our Tarxien tour at the end of Triq Santa Marija by another 16th Century building having three windows also with the ‘fat’ triple moulded surround, a clear evidence of the centuries’ existence of this small village.