Gardens Malta

Gardens in Malta Make an Ideal Winter Outing, Scented with Flora, Fauna and Local History

Written by Albert Fenech
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Malta and Gozo were once covered with indigenous woodland. However, the those shrank as trees were cut for the building and repair of galleons when Knights of St John established the first Malta dockyard. Typically, homes built in Malta did not have gardens as they might today. Instead, gardens were built by authorities and were large and luxurious, and served their architects, not the pubic, including the Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem during their 300 years of occupation of Malta and Gozo. 

These days, however, Malta and Gozo bloom with gardens and green spaces where views, flora and fauna, architecture and local history are on display. Winter is just the right time to visit too, when the sun still shines and the summer crowds are non-existent.

Here is a sneak peek at some you’ll want to see on your next visit to Malta.

Upper Barrakka Gardens in Valletta are one of the most popular in Malta  (Photo by Diego Delso, delso.photo-CC-BY-SA)

 

The Upper Barrakka Gardens 

These are the most frequented gardens throughout the islands, mainly because of their expansive views across the whole of the Valletta Grand Harbour  with the Three Cities as its backdrop. It is situated near the Auberge de Castile and adjacent to the Malta Stock Exchange formerly the Garrison Chapel built in 1855-1857 by the British Empire stationed in Malta.

Buskett Gardens

Situated next to Verdala Palace, in the fertile Luq Valley near Rabat, west of Siggiewi, Buskett Gardens was planted by the Knights as a hunting ground, and is by far one of the largest woodland areas in Malta. In June 1557, the then Grandmaster Claude de la Sengle (who gave his name to the town of Senglea on the northern side of Valletta’s Grand Harbour), was taken ill and retired to the valley for peace and quiet. He passed away two months later. The following year, then Grandmaster Hughes de Verdalle decided this was the ideal place for a cool inland palace and summer residence,  and he had Verdala Palace constructed overlooking the valley and established The Boschetto (garden in Italian) as his recreation and hunting ground.

Today Verdala Palace is an official summer residence of the President of Malta.

The Buskett Garden has broadleaved woodland that is made up of deciduous and coniferous trees, as well as many fruit-bearing varieties that have survived the centuries this has remained as one of the greenest areas in Malta. The gardens are at their best in spring but also provide welcome shade during summer.

Gardens Malta
Buskett Gardens are home to one of the official presidential residences (Photo by Frank Vincentz CC BY-SA 3.0)

 

San Anton Gardens

This lies within the grounds of another Presidential Palace in the centre of Malta between Balzan and Attard and was another feat of the Knights, built by Grandmaster Antoine de Paule in the 16th century. Today the Sant’Anton Palace is the official winter residence of the President of Malta and his wife.

In 1882 it was opened to the public and revealed it to be one of the most beautiful gardens in Malta with a large variety of trees and flowers. The garden is criss-crossed by pathways that meander around fountains, ponds and many plants and flowers such as roses and Bougainvillea as well as Norfolk and Araucaria trees and others from around the world, some more than 300 years old.

On entry there are a magnificent fountain and several ponds containing sweet water fish, ducks, swans and turtles. The coterie was expanded to include peacocks, birds and some mammals such as small monkeys and rabbits.

The Argotti Botanical Gardens 

Over the last two years these gardens have been extensively refurbished, and are just a stone’s throw from Valletta. Visitors will find many species of flowers and trees as well as commemorative statues and plaque, and views of Malta’s other main harbour, Marsamxett Harbour and Floriana’s fortifications. There are many benches for relaxation and contemplation.

The gardens date back to 1774 and are short walk from Valletta.

Gardens Malta
Sa Maison Gardens has up close views of Marsamxett Harbour, located to the north of Valletta’s larger Grand Harbour (Photo by MoselcountyBürgermeister1 –  CC BY-SA 4.0)

 

Sa Maison Garden 

If you’re seeking peace and quiet in an unusual garden set over several levels, and with a Gardjola (look-out point) over the Marsamxett Harbour, then this is the ideal place for you.

With a number of different British military regiments having occupied barracks in nearby Floriana, many insignias are carved on the garden rocks along with interesting personal anecdotes.

The Independence Garden 

Of all the gardens mentioned here, this is the newest, established shortly after Independence Day on 21 September 1964 in Silema.

he whole of my family, including myself, were born and bred in the relatively new town area of Sliema and a major part has a seafront with many plush residential homes looking directly onto the Mediterranean. However, for many years, the rocks were left in an abandoned space and used as rubbish dumps. The Government of the day decided these rocks should be used significantly and in a sense of commemoration.

It does not contain the flora and fauna of others gardens nor their history, statues and plaques but it represents a wonderful opportunity to sit on a bench in the Mediterranean sun overlooking the sparkling blue sea.

Villa Bologna

Built in the 18th century, the villa and garden are replete with history as well as a number of splendid fountains. A great number of weddings have been held here as it is an elegant background for the reception and photos. In addition, the garden is well-known for its organic vegetable produce and a Veg Box (farmers’ market) is held every Tuesday, Friday or Saturday for the sale of these products.

There is also a family run trattoria located in the gardens, open for lunch & dinner, with a small but charming cocktails bar.

www.villabologna.com

Gardens Malta
Palazzo Parisio and its gardens are popular for elegant weddings as well as dining at the restaurant (Photo by Frank Vincentz – CC BY-SA 3.0)

Palazzo Parisio

This Palace is situated in the centre of Naxxar, once a small village but now, as with many other villages in Malta and Gozo, has expanded and is more of a town. The building is a beautiful example of Baroque architecture with an Italian symmetry, and is one of the very few privately-owned palaces and gardens accessible to the public. It is also a venue for elegant weddings and has a wonderful restaurant serving lunch and dinner.

The enchanting garden is filled with trees, shrubs and flowering plants surrounding a pond.

Historic Garden (The Garden of Rest)

This garden has a most unusual history because of the elaborate tombstones spread about it, many looking more like monuments.

It was originally a Protestant cemetery, close to Floriana which housed the barracks for many British regiments. However, it also contains the grave and tombstone of one of Malta’s greatest citizens, Fr Mikiel Anton Vassalli, who is regarded as “the father” of the Maltese language, known for compiling the first dictionary and having a leading role in ejecting Napoleon and the French from Malta.

Later, he fell out with the Roman Catholic Church. When he died in 1829, hew was refused burial in a Roman Catholic cemetery. The only other alternative was to bury him here and there he rests today. As befitting, the garden has a restful ambiance and a small museum.

Gardens Malta
 The Chinese Serenity Garden  is a place of contemplation

 

Chinese Garden of Serenity

Again, like the Sliema garden, this is one of the baby gardens and has a recent historical background. In the early 1970s, the then Maltese Prime Minister Dominic Mintoff astounded the world and became the first European Leader to pay an official visit to Communist China.

This resulted in various Chinese industries establishing themselves in Malta but also their sponsorship of this commemorative space, the Chinese Garden of Serenity,  in Santa Lucija whose architecture and carefully laid out gardens are meant to invoke contemplation, with lots of shade in summer.

 

For more information or to plan a trip, visit www.visitmalta.com

***

BeSeeingYou In: Malta’s gardens

Good To Know: The gardens are open to the public free of charge

WOW! Factor: The history and architecture, and the Malta sunshine

Tip:  Many are withing walking distance of Valletta and nearby Floriana, while others can be accessed via public buses.

Author bio: Albert Fenech

salina46af@gmail.com

Albert Fenech
Born in 1946, Albert Fenech’s family took up UK residence in 1954 where he spent his boyhood and youth before temporarily returning to Malta between 1957 and 1959 and then coming back to Malta permanently in 1965. He spent eight years as a full-time journalist with “The Times of Malta” before taking up a career in HR Management and Administration with a leading construction company building the Benghazi Hospital in Libya, later with Malta Insurance Brokers, Malta’s leading insurance Broker and finally STMicroelectronics Malta, employing 3,000 employees and Malta’s leading industrial manufacturer. Throughout he actively pursued freelance journalism and broadcasting for various media outlets covering social issues, current affairs, sports and travel. He was Publications Editor for the Malta Football Association for 25 years and has written for a number of publications both in Malta and overseas, as well as publishing two e-books.

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