Disappearing Malta

Sometimes I feel like a fraud. Both here and on Instagram I share photos of the Malta I love; the unspoilt, quaint Malta that I remember from my childhood. But that Malta is gone and only survives in our memories and in a handful of places. 

Sincerely Loree: Birgu, Malta

The desecration of this island started in the late 70s but, in the past 5 years, it has infiltrated all our towns and villages at a breath-taking speed that is impossible to keep up with. I used to survive by avoiding the ugly places. But now, the 'uglification' of Malta is everywhere. I cannot escape from it but I also cannot bring myself to press the shutter button on my phone or camera to immortalise and share the hideousness with my readers. There are a few pristine places left, like Mdina, Valletta, Birgu, Isla and some town and village cores. But the rest of Malta is subjected to wrecking balls, cranes, dust and debris on a daily basis. Post-war houses are being pulled down everywhere and replaced by soulless concrete apartment blocks several storeys high, because the limestone blocks that were used to build our houses and which gave Malta so much of its character are in very short supply. But these concrete monstrosities stick out like the proverbial sore thumb as concrete will not weather and take on the golden hue that used to characterize our townscapes.

Sincerely Loree: Rabat, Malta

It makes me weep to read that 250 football pitches worth of open space have been built up (and on an island this small, that is an irreversible tragedy) or that a beautiful old house has been 'regenerated' by adding several storeys of modern ugliness on top of it. Admittedly, it did win an award and we're all grateful it wasn't demolished but I can't bring myself to like it. It almost looks like it will crumble under the extra weight.  In the seaside town of Sliema, all the Edwardian and Art Deco-era houses on the promenade have been levelled and replaced by apartments and office blocks. Some might see it as an improvement and proof that Malta is joining the 'modern world' but I beg to differ. I think we've lost our soul. 

Sincerely Loree: Mdina, Malta

Pencil buildings, as they are called, are sprouting up all over the place. I suppose it would be forgivable if there was a sudden population boom. In reality, according to this article from 2013, at least 1/3 of the property on the island is vacant. I can only imagine how much higher that number is today. Moreover, to add insult to injury, property prices have spiralled upwards to ridiculous levels. The irony is that if we sold our home we would only be able to get something equivalent or smaller for the same amount of money. Anything bigger or better would be out of our reach.

Sincerely Loree: Birgu, Malta

Not that I would want to move anywhere. We are blessed to live at the top of a valley in a small military town designed by the British in the late 1800s. Our subdivision is from the early 2000s and, up to now, has escaped  unscathed - as has most of the town. How long this will continue I don't know. 

Sincerely Loree: Rabat, Malta

I'm also not sure why I wrote this except that I needed a place to vent. And to make you all aware that Malta is not the pretty place you will see in tourist brochures and postcards. Not anymore.

Sincerely Loree: Rabat, Malta

If you want to share my pain, you can click here for some visuals and here for a comprehensive article printed in the Times of Malta in March 2021. 

Sincerely Loree: Valletta, Malta

However, if you prefer some glimpses of what I like to call 'disappearing Malta' and which I frequently use as a hashtag on Instagram, please visit or follow these accounts (including mine):

Parnassus said...

Hello Loree, That is the problem with so many places today. When I came to Taiwan, there were huge blocks of hideous apartment buildings, but also many older areas, some in various degrees of attractive ruin. Now all of the old areas are razed, given over to new high-rise development, which seems to come in two types: cheap and ugly, or pretentious and ugly. But whenever I can get back to Ohio, I see the same thing going on--natural areas given over to low-class development, or true historic areas bulldozed and redeveloped in a cheap, pseudo-historical style that never was part of Cleveland's history.
--Jim

Debbie Nolan said...

Loree I am sad to read that your beautiful island is taking the way so many places go. I certainly hope that where you reside it will continue to be a lovely peaceful island spot. Your photos are always so wonderful and seeing your old and gorgeous buildings makes me glimpse a way of life that has been extraordinary. So glad you are still able to capture what remains of the historic treasures that are landmarks of Malta. Take care friend and have a great week! Hugs!

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

What I see in on the links, the new buildings in comparison to your photos...I agree 100% with you. The new Malta is ugly. Giving an award for any building representing such desecration is mind boggling.

La Contessa said...

IT IS HAPPENING EVERYWHERE...............PEOPLE TODAY HAVE NO TASTE!
XXX

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