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Author: Melisande Aquilina

Windmills in Malta

The Maltese windmill (‘Mitħna tar-riħ’) is a scenic element of the architectural heritage of the islands, adding a definite rural and historical touch to the local landscape. Maltese stone windmills are beautiful structures. These were introduced even before the arrival of the Knights of the Order of Saint John in Malta in 1530, as the Knights themselves record finding at least two stone windmills already built when they arrived to the islands. Windmills were used in every town and village to mill grain using the energy of the wind, which converted this power by means of the rotary motion...

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The Maltese Door Knocker

One cannot visit Malta without noticing the typical Maltese architecture prevalent in most cities and villages around the islands. When it comes to the embellishment of their traditional houses and monuments, the Maltese are one of the most colourful and creative country in Europe, decorating their facades with picturesque balconies, sculptured windows and shutters, and whimsical door-knockers. History tells us that in pre-medieval and early medieval times, people did not knock on doors, but in fact used to scratch at them in order to announce their presence. Today, this may sound very strange and unpractical, yet one must remember...

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Maltese Streets: Niches

The towns and villages of Malta and Gozo are particularly unique, and showcase a number of defining characteristics. Sporting a number of traditional and colourful features, they are charmingly retro at times, offering a landscape of bustling activity tempered by moments of blessed calm – most notably during hot summer afternoons when most villagers are either having a ‘siesta’ or swarming the local beaches. One distinctly beautiful feature which tends to characterise most of our medieval villages and towns, is the stone niche. Valletta, the capital city, built during the 16th century by the Order of the Knights of...

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The Maltese Traditional Balconies

One of the first features many tourists seem to notice when they visit the Maltese islands, are the many traditional colourful balconies which dot mosty historical cities and villages in Malta and Gozo. Colourful, wooden, made of stone, open, or enclosed, these balconies seem to strike a chord when it comes to those who prize architecture, cultural heritage and local customs. Being a defining urban part of the local landscape, traditional balconies enhance and enrich Malta’s streetscape, as well as serving as an architectural map providing epitomes of different architectural styles prevailing during particular periods of history. As such,...

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The Malta Military Tattoo

Apart from denoting the practice of “tattooing”, that is, the marking of the skin with patterns and designs by inserting coloured pigment under the skin, the word “tattoo” also defines a type of military musical performance and display by the armed forces in general. Historically, the reference to such a performance linked to this term originates from the early 17th century, when the Dutch used the phrase “doe den tap toe” (“turn off the tap”), to refer to a routine signal given by drummers as an instruction to innkeepers near military garrisons to stop serving beer, and for the...

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