We will be starting this week’s tour from Triq Sant’ Anġlu, right in front of the bus terminus. The first part is characterised by a series of hardstone bollards flanking this narrow street. A series of large 19th Century town houses with symmetrical facades, one of them the Local Council’s office are an attraction to lovers of this period’s architecture.
Right into il-Gwiedi area we walk through Triq il-Kunċizzjoni, a narrower street which includes buildings slightly older than we just saw in Triq Sant’ Anġlu. An open stone balcony and a series of Melitan molded doorways proof this.
Triq il-Kunċizzjoni intersects with Triq Santa Katarina from where one can take a glance of the main parish church. This street developed in the early 18th Century is characterised by buildings with rich Baroque architecture, the most important of which is Casa Perellos, built by Grand Master Perellos in order to enjoy the procession of St. Gregory. A clear evidence that this house was once owned by the mentioned grandmaster are the Orders eight pointed cross and the ‘pear’ (emblem of Grand Master Perellos) found on the corbels supporting an open balustraded balcony. At a corner right in front of this beautiful palace one finds ‘l-għajn tal-behejjem’ (horse through) within an interesting architectural set up.
The Żejtun Primary school is an architectural masterpiece of the early 20th Century we find along this heritage route. Built in neo-classical architecture, its Doric colonnade is an attraction on its own. Further up Triq San Luċjan, one finds St. Joseph convent which served as the first primary school for the town. The building is also of architectural importance mainly due to the stone decoration one finds on parts of its facades, such as a map in bas-relief found over the main door, depicting an aerial view of the south east part of the island. As the road narrows down and bends slightly one finds another interesting architectural solution lead through the use of the building itself. A remissa doorway having a skew arch clearly indicating that the remissa was used for the parking of a horse coach.
Coming out from this narrowness one finds himself right into a large open space – Misraħ ir-Repubblika and fronted by the parish church complex. Within the furthest corned of this open space one finds the Oratory of the Blessed Sacrament built in rich Baroque decoration. The parish church, claimed to be Larenzo Gafa’s architectural masterpiece, built in 1692 is one of the most beautiful churches of its period. The effect of light and shade on its main facade and the arched screen side facade is a characteristic of this period’s architectural style. Among the buildings surrounding the parish church complex, one has been chosen as the best example of fine architecture one finds on the perimeter of the three piazzas around the complex.
Our trail will now continue by walking into Triq San Girgor, dominated by early 19th to early 20th Century palaces and town houses. A persjana door at the corner with Triq Santu Wistin is the prelude to what one expects later on along this walk. This rather wide street is characterised by double fronted large town houses, large palaces such as the one built by Bishop Mattei (today used as the Domus Youth Centre) and single storey, wide-fronted houses built in neo-classical architecture with interesting architectural detailing such as these capitals. On the other side of the road, one finds more modest buildings such as this vernacular building claimed to be an inland watch tower and which is planned to be converted into an Arts and Crafts Centre used by the local community under the local council’s management. As soon as one leaves this row of houses on finds a neo-Romanesque complex comprising the church and convent of Jesus of Nazareth.
At the end of Triq San Girgor one finds a statue of St. Gregory sculptured in stone by Salvatore Dimech, one of the famous Maltese artists appertaining to the Nazarenean Movement. Just behind the statue one finds the architectural jewel of this town, the old parish church dating back to the early 15th Century. This church internally is roofed over in Gothic construction, however later additions in renaissance and baroque style where made. The main door in fact is a renaissance addition to the early plain facade. The flat saucer dome was built in the mid-16th Century and is one of the first domes built on the island.
Few metres away from this church one finds another important monument built in the early 19th Century. Il-Ġnien tal-Kmand. is one of Sir Alexander Ball’s gardens built by the Żejtun engineer Mikiel Cachia. On the entrance to this garden one finds a stone triumphal sculpture with King George’s initials.
The Carlo Diacono Junior Lyceum was built in the early 1960s. During its construction, archaeological remains of the Roman period were found and are still preserved within the school complex. Further down Triq Luqa Briffa, one enters again into the older parts of the town. Along this street one finds very modest vernacular buildings, such as this covered alley to much elegant houses such as the one found right in front of the same alley. On the side of Triq Luqa Briffa one can walk into a series of straight an very narrow roads or Triq Xejba. At the end of Triq Xejba at the corner with Triq Marsaxlokk one finds a large gateway (presently blocked) with the Testaferrata family coat of arms crowning the archway.
Our tour continues through Triq Santa Marija along which one finds another series of elegant buildings, two of which are quite similar probably due to the series of semicircular steps leading to the main entrance. Besides these there are also other interesting architectural features, amongst which this Baroque open balcony.
Our tour concludes in Misraħ Carlo Diacono, but before reaching this square we have to pass through Triq il-Madonna tal-Bon Kunsill. The neo-classical building hosting the police station cannot escape our eyes. On the contrary, one has to look into a short alley along the same street in order not to loose an exquisite Baroque composition.
Misraħ Carlo Diacono is characterised by three monuments owned by the Testaferrata Bonici family – the church of Our Lady of Good Council, the magnificent Renaissance palace with the statue of Daniel on its main door and the 17th Century church of St. Angelo.
Whilst hoping that you enjoyed this virtual tour of our town, we are amply sure that if you try this trail yourself you will notice and enjoy much more of our rich architectural heritage.