Last Updated on 02 March 2013
According to recent statistics by the Eurostat, Malta has witnessed a rise in property prices in the past 12 months compared with a significant drop in the rest of the EU. The House Price Index shows that Malta’s property prices in the third quarter of 2012 averaged one per cent higher when compared with the same quarter of 2011.
On the other hand, the price of property in the rest of the eurozone fell by an average of 2.5 per cent during the same period. The report said the steepest drops in pro-perty prices in the eurozone were recorded in Spain (15.2 per cent), Ireland (9.6 per cent), the Netherlands (8.7 per cent) and Portugal (7.7 per cent).
The data includes price developments of all residential properties, from flats to detached houses and property prices are considered to be one of the pillars of economic activity which normally indicate how the economy of a particular country is faring.
Posted in: About Malta
Last Updated on 29 October 2012
The Ramblers’ Association recently launched its autumn programme, designed to include the unique natural characteristics of the Maltese Islands and enormous cultural and archaeological heritage scattered over the countryside.
These include a vast array of wayside chapels and folk art in very remote pathways.
The 20 organised walks – held on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays – provide panoramic and scenic routes through some of the finest and most exhilarating green spaces on the islands.
These include the rolling hills of Mtahleb; the rugged coastline at Xrobb l-Ghagin and Ghajn Tuffieha; Torri Falka, Gomerino and Il-Qallelija − a vast expanse of shaft graves probably Roman where the fragrance of thyme on the garigue fills the air; and the Bingemma Ridge, which is a fine viewpoint on the western side of The Victoria Lines.
The urban historical trail takes ramblers to the Three Cities, Valletta and Floriana, where they will not only taste the history and culture of these places but also visit the beautiful gardens adorning Floriana.
Other exciting walks are the Manikata, Ghajn Znuber and Ras il-Wahx walk, with its rich texture of ecclesiastical and natural interest characterised by various giren (corbelled huts) of all shapes and sizes. The pathway leads to the rugged cliff face of Il-Qammieh in the distance.
Posted in: About Malta
Last Updated on 11 September 2012
A recent international study listed Malta as the best place on earth for Brits to retire. Patrick Cooke spoke to three Britons who made the move to see whether their Maltese dreams had come true.
Some people might be daunted by the prospect of starting over in a new country as a pensioner, but not Reg Fitzpatrick.
Having moved to Gozo from England aged 60, Mr Fitzpatrick fully agreed with the Yahoo Finance and Castle Cover study that listed the Maltese Islands as the best place for Brits to spend their twilight years.
“Gozo in particular and Malta in general has come up with everything we wished for and lots more besides,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.
He and his wife Lilian decided to leave England for the Mediterranean in 2003 after growing weary of the British lifestyle and weather.
They considered Cyprus and Gibraltar – “We wanted an English-speaking place” – before settling on Gozo and buying a villa in Xlendi in September 2005.
The former RAF serviceman found his new community in Gozo to be very similar to where he was raised in rural Ireland.
“We truly felt we had come home,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.
“I believe our move will result in us living perhaps 20 or 30 years longer due to the more relaxed lifestyle.”
The study took into account weather, property prices and taxes, healthcare, the cost of living and proximity to Britain when assessing countries. For Mr Fitzpatrick, Malta scored high in all categories and more besides.
He was particularly complimentary about the hospitality of the Maltese people: “They are warm, polite and very welcoming, with a tremendous sense of family values.”
His interest in Malta was first sparked in the early 1960s when he was stationed at RAF Debden in Essex with Joseph Buttigieg, a Maltese man who spent many hours talking about his homeland.
“I never forgot the impressions he left me with. I would certainly love to thank him for the insight,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.
Although he was concerned about being away from his two adult daughters, one visits regularly with her family and the other liked Malta so much that she moved to the island with hers.
Steve Jessel is another Briton happy with his decision to spend his retirement in Malta.
Having lived in southern France for many years, he moved to Mellieha with his partner Heather in May 2011 after falling in love with the island on holiday.
To avoid hassle in old age, Mr Jessel, 60, decided to rent rather than buy property and he plans to sell his home in France and “enjoy living off the money”.
Like Mr Fitzpatrick, he also ranked Malta highly for cost of living and climate, though he felt the health and other government services suffered a little from bureaucracy.
“The people working there are very nice but usually they can’t answer your questions,” he laughed, adding that he had grown used to bureaucracy in France.
“The Maltese people are lovely and I would certainly recommend Malta for retirement, though I don’t want too many people to come here and spoil it,” he joked.
For Alan Spence, Malta feels much more like home than England does.
The 65-year-old Balzan resident went back to his homeland recently for the first time since moving to Malta seven years ago. “I was shocked at the price of everything in the UK. I can live comfortably in Malta with my British pension but back home I’d struggle,” he said.
Mr Spence had been holidaying in Malta since 1968 as he “always liked the people and found them very hospitable”.
He has some health problems and praised Mater Dei Hospital’s cardiac unit as being “as good as any major country in Europe”.
He also feels much safer in Malta than he does in the UK, particularly at night.
“I have spoken to several friends in England to encourage them to make the move. I’m sure they wouldn’t regret it,” he said.
Top 10 retirement spots
Posted in: About Malta
Last Updated on 28 August 2012
Sunshine and the people’s fluency in English have propelled Malta to the number one spot in the list of top 10 places where British people should retire, according to the Yahoo! Finance website.
The site features a poster, entitled The Top Places To Go For Your Retirement, with Malta at the top of the list – followed by Portugal, Spain, Barbados, the US, Australia, Thailand, Jamaica, Morocco and Greece.
“With over 3,100 hours of sunshine a year, an average year-round temperature of 18.9°C and English as a first language for most people, it’s no surprise Brits flock to the Mediterranean archipelago, making Malta our top, all-round retirement destination,” the site reads.
Yahoo! Finance came up with the list together with insurance company Castle Cover. They took into consideration “everything from rainfall to crime rates, healthcare (availability and cost), tax, crime and how much homes cost to work out what the best options are”.
The sum of all this got Malta named at the best place to escape Britain for a new life oversees – away from economic distress and rain of the British Isles.
Posted in: About Malta
Last Updated on 20 April 2012
Schoolchildren playing football outside the Chapel of St Roque (known as St Anne) in Attard. The chapel is featured in Miranda Publishers’ second volume of The Historic Chapels of Malta and Gozo 360, a hard-bound book carrying more than 52 colour images of chapels across the islands.
Many small churches and chapels dot villages in Malta and the surrounding countryside and visitors to our islands will probably equate them with religious pastoral care only.
But a closer look at the buildings and their beginnings reveals that they mirror the roots of the present Maltese European culture and are a pointer to how our society has developed over the years.
Eddie and Tony Aquilina, of Miranda Publishers, continue their tireless efforts to record this Maltese history in print and have just come out with the second volume of The Historic Chapels of Malta and Gozo 360.
The text and research on the chapels has been left in the hands of Joe Grima while the photography was once again entrusted to Enrico Formica.
Eddie Aquilina spent a lot of time scouting the areas and making contact with the people responsible for the chapels so that, once the photographer arrived in Malta, no time would be lost.
Most of the images are animated with people and the photographs were taken at different times of the year to make the best not only of the seasons but also of the liturgical feasts, natural light and cloud formations.
“This is not digitial photography,”said Mr Aquilina. “It is not a case of stitching images together digitally. These are slides, some of which measure up to 30 centimetres, in one complete shot.
“This is art photography at its best.”
In the same breath, he acknowledged all the help and support he got not just from his sponsors but also from the villagers and residents without whose participation “the production of the book would have been an impossible task”.
The series’ third volume is expected to hit the shelves later this year.
Our Saviour chapel, Qrendi
Posted in: About Malta
Last Updated on 23 January 2012
Malta registered the lowest rate of inflation in the euro area in December, according to data issued by Eurostat.
The EU’s statistics office said the island’s inflation stood at 1.3 per cent, 1.4 per cent below the average in the 17-member eurozone.
The rate of inflation in December was, in fact, the lowest registered in Malta for the year, after the island registered a significant four per cent inflation in 2010.
Across the EU, the lowest annual rate of inflation last month was seen in Sweden (0.4 per cent) and Malta and Bulgaria (two per cent), while the highest was in Slovakia (4.6 per cent), Poland (4.5 per cent) and Cyprus (4.2 per cent).
Fuel used for transport, heating oil and gas and electricity once again had the largest upwards impact on the EU’s inflation rate.
Posted in: About Malta
Last Updated on 02 October 2011
The original armorial shield dated 1533 of Grand Master Philippe Villiers de L’Isle Adam still appears in the corridor of the Knights’ Holy Infirmary.
From left to right: A massive pilaster in the Collachio marking the site of the ancient Auberge de Castille. Auberge de France: main staircase leading to the piano nobile, indicating the elegant sophistication of the French knights. A streetscape in the Collachio (before rehabiltation works) showing the early 16th century Auberge d’Angleterre.
Late medieval Siculo-Aragonese two-light window. Right: The Holy Family and Saints at the monastery church of St Scholastica, a superb work of art by Mattia Preti.
The Inner Harbour city of Birgu (Vittoriosa), protected by the impregnable Castrum Maris (Fort St Angelo), and on the land-front by one of the most impressive lines of late Renaissance and Baroque fortifications in Europe, has along the years been a leading protagonist in the gradual westernisation of Malta, particularly in the late Middle Ages.
This ancient zone is packed with history and memories; wander along its beguiling winding streets and the layering of different cultures unfold
- Lino Bugeja
Its thriving population, engaged in maritime activities, was further enhanced by a cosmopolitan admixture of Venetians, Pisans, Genoese and Catalan merchants and seafarers who made Birgu their home.
The ancient part of this city, known as the Collachio, portrayed in microcosm a broad swathe of the influences of an active prosperous port city of the period with its taverns, courtesans, slaves and brothels running parallel with a proliferation of churches, chapels and holy relics.
Its narrow winding streets have witnessed moments of rowdy mirth, as in the frivolities of the first Carnival, as well as scintillating glories, as in the celebrations marking the end of the Great Siege of 1565, alternating with episodes of great poverty and epidemics. Many of these localities have survived to tell the tale.
On their arrival in Birgu in 1530 the Knights of St John concentrated their main buildings in a particular area on the pattern of their Rhodes sojourn; however it was impossible to have exclusive access to this zone which became known as the Collachio.
At the time Birgu was bursting at the seams with a population of over 3,500, and an accelerated building programme was initiated following the contours and alignments of the medieval building scheme. In this zone the Knights erected the auberges, a state-of-the-art hospital on the outskirts of the Collachio facing Kalkara, and magnificent palaces.
Behind St James Cavalier they built an impressive armoury as well as the vast fortifications of the Post of Castille, also known as l’Altare della Patria in view of the scenes of bitter fighting in the Great Siege, vividly described by Francesco Balbi di Correggio in his diary of the Siege of Malta and further immortalised by Matteo Perez d’Aleccio’s paintings at the Grand Masters’ Palace in Valletta.
In this zone, located on the right of the processional route (starting from the Three-Gate Entrance down Main Gate Street to the piazza) that bisects Birgu, one may include the Inquisitor’s Palace, a unique structure of great architectural and historical importance, the Bishop’s Palace, as well as the seat of the Birgu Università.
In spite of the intensive bombing during World War Two most of these historical edifices remained almost untouched.
Down the years, the Collachio has known the tread of outstanding personalities and scholars, poets and troubadours, great artists and military engineers as various as De Valette, L’Isle Adam, and Europe’s most celebrated military engineer, Bartolomeo Genga, who designed the still extant Auberge de France.
The Collachio presented the flowering spirit of the young Girolamo Cassar the opportunity to absorb the architectural idiom of the early Knights’ period to replicate it in the new city of Valletta.
The list of prominent people is endless – young ecclesiastical dignitaries who later became popes loitered here, as well as the renowned medieval troubadour Pietro Vidal.
The exceptionally brilliant Mattia Preti regaled the area with one of his late masterpieces in the magnificent main altarpiece of The Holy Family in the Benedictine church adjoining the erstwhile Holy Infirmary. It was here that the Birgu-born artistic geniuses Melchiorre Gafà, who made a name for himself in the Eternal City, and his brother Lorenzo, the greatest Maltese exponent of the Maltese Baroque, had their botteghe.
This ancient zone is packed with history and memories; wander along its beguiling winding streets and the layering of different cultures unfolds, stretching from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance and the Baroque, with visible remains that gave Malta its typical domestic architecture. As you stroll through this labyrinth, memories of its past haunt you, contributing to a unique experience of when the now silent palaces hosted the nobility of Europe.
Exercising its various roles throughout history, the Collachio has retained its unique characteristics, making Birgu a city of substance. To wander across the battlements of the Post of Castille at the far end of this area, soon to be restored to their former glory, is an unforgettable experience as historic moments are evoked, engulfing the visitor in bitter-sweet melancholia.
If the Collachio could speak, which historical events would it relate? Would it explain the sophistication of the Siculo-Aragonese house with its still extant exquisite two-light window? Would it recount the vicissitudes of the English knights during the Reformation at the still standing Auberge d’Angleterre, built before 1534?
Would it reveal the inhumanity of the slave trade when Ancient Street and Strada Vecchia Albergia di Castiglia teemed with young slaves ready to be auctioned on the main square in the shadow of the historic tower? Would it remind us of the frequent outbursts of savagery and deaths in duels?
Would it extol the mysterious chant and the fragrance of incense of the Byzantine rites at the Greek church of St Nicholas in the area?
Or would the Collachio reverberate once again with the pious prayers when on August 12, 1565, De Valette exhibited at the Auberge de France the document from Pope Pius IV assuring all defenders of forgiveness of their sins and immediate access to heaven if they died defending the Faith? Would it reveal the first attempt in Malta at an incipient social service when the Knights in Birgu set up a Housing Commission and a Commission for the Needy with excellent medical facilities at the nearby Holy Infirmary built at L-Ghawejna ( Little spring) in 1533?
Undoubtedly, the Collachio had its moments of glory when Fort St Angelo and its suburb of Birgu entered the mainstream of European art and culture.
With their cosmopolitan appearance, customs and traditions, the families living in Birgu at the time contrasted sharply with the rest of the island which, with the notable exception of the inland town of Mdina, was still in many respects more North African than European.
As I recently explored this historic district with Tim Willocks, author of the bestseller The Religion, a kaleidoscope of colourful memories rushed to my mind as I felt the radical temper and vitality of this vibrant city and its humble populace still rooted in its extraordinary past.
A treasure trove awaits the discerning visitor on a pilgrimage to Birgu not least to discover and pay homage to our European roots.
That such a small walled-up city can offer so much history reveals the richness of its past when on many occasions Birgu was the main protagonist in the turbulent history of our islands.
The annual Birgufest is being held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, featuring Birgu by Candlelight, traditional Maltese games, and Maltese and foreign musicians and an art exhibition by C.S. Lawrence at the Auberge de France (part of the proceeds from the sale of works will be donated to the Community Chest Fund).
Posted in: About Malta
Last Updated on 01 June 2010
At the geographical and cultural crossroad between West and East, North and South, Arab and Western Culture in the centre of the Mediterranean, Malta - and its smaller sister island Gozo - is ideally situated to act as a commercial hub and stepping base for regional and continental expansion.
Malta is located about 96 km south of Italy and 290 km north of Libya. The capital city is Valletta where our Head Office is located.
Malta, and its two sister islands, boast of pre historical monuments - predating the Egyptian pyramids - and other unique neolithic sites; its architecture dates from Roman to Norman times and from magnificent Baroque edifices to modern structures.
Malta's history is laced with the glorious story of the Order of the Knights Hospitallers of St John. Based on its past European culture, Malta is now formally part of the EU (2004). With a strong sound economy (the currency is Euro " € ") and relatively high social standard of living, Malta enjoys a Mediterranean climate with clear blue seas, sun and beaches - sandy and otherwise - and an interesting typical countryside and reputably healthy cuisine. Malta has an area of 246 square kilometers, a population of around 400,000 and 1,200,000 tourists annually. The Maltese are friendly and hospitable. Maltese, English and Italian are spoken fluentlyVehicles drive on the left hand side of the road: public picturesque transport is available. The Maltese real estate, with property enjoying beautiful sea and locally typical scenic views and surroundings, has proven to be an extremely sound and profitable business. Real estate prices have always steadily increased. It is expected that such an investment will retain and increase its value due to the islands limited space.
Posted in: About Malta
Last Updated on 20 June 2011
Photo: Mario Galea/MTA
Gozo has been named one of the best 10 destinations among 50 chosen by a jury that evaluated 500 coastal regions in nine southern European countries.
This was announced during the Quality Coast 2011 – Southern European Top 50 awards ceremony in Kouklia, Cyprus.
Gozo Minister Giovanna Debono was presented with a certificate, which, she said, would serve as a means to advertise Gozo as a tourist destination.
Posted in: About Malta