Birgu comprised of the last part of my Malta itinerary and I was already smitten by yellow limestone forts, grand harbours and azure blue waters that characterised the Maltese landscape.
Birgu, also known by its title Città Vittoriosa, is an old fortified city on the south side of the Grand Harbour in the South Eastern Region of Malta. It served as the capital city of Malta between 1530 and 1571, until Valletta was built. The city still retained its medieval flavour with cobbled alleys, stepped lanes, converted townhouses (available for rents!), elegantly renovated art and curio boutiques. The Birgu waterfront was lined with modern cafes and restaurants and buzzed with alfresco diners. Our guide Yvette led us through the quiet lanes of the town and majestic doors, fabled doorknobs, laced curtains, filigreed verandahs hanging out of charming old buildings embraced and surprised us in a slightly different manner than it did in Valletta and Mdina. The inner lanes in Birgu were narrower and cosier. They seemed rather quiet as individual tourists savoured their strolls and peeped into boutiques. In contrast, the historical Victory Square was downed by a bevy of tourists disembarking out of big tourist coaches. Our group disintegrated after a while – some went off to explore the various museums (The Maltese Maritime Museum, The Inquisitor’s Palace and there were many more), while the rest loitered into all the interesting nooks and corners that the town offered. One such discovery of mine was a space called Find the Door.
If you are visiting Malta in autumn, please don't miss Birgufest/Birgu by candlelight. The streets are lit up by thousands of candles as the event highlights Birgu’s history and architecture with activities, re-enactments, art exhibitions, concerts, popular games, discounted museum admission fees and access to popular venues of interests.
Find the Door
Find the Door is an artisanal boutique, a creative workspace cum shop showcasing a large collection of items, made by hand and sourced by artists living in Malta. Housed in a beautiful house in the Collacchio area in Birgu, this had once been a historical bakery. The boutique sold unique curios, souvenirs, artefacts, home decor, jewellery and many other interesting products. There were handmade jewellery that used natural materials made from and inspired by the Maltese Islands. The open courtyards were transformed into working space for artists and the corners were stacked with books and reading memorabilia. Once I was inside this creative maze, it was very difficult for me to refocus on the day’s itinerary in hand.
27 Triq It Tramuntana, Birgu
Eating in Birgu
The waterfront is lined with cafes and restaurants, so are the inner lanes and the popular squares. We came across Tal-Petut restaurant which had a great name. Apparently, the chef patron prepared and served prepared meals personally to its patrons. The restaurant served only fresh local produce and innovative Maltese food. Since this was going to be our last meal in Malta, we chose a restaurant that was located at the historical Victory Square so that we could immerse ourselves completely in the local vibe. BeBirgu was a bar and bistro of the San Lawrenz Band Club established in 1883 (yet another restaurant with an association with a historical band. Earlier in Valleta, we had a meal at Own Band Club Bar & Restaurant that was situated on the ground floor in the historical premises of a 1874 building belonging to the King’s Own Band Club). Housed in an old palace, Palazzo Huesca, a grand entrance led us through an ornate corridor into a beautiful terrace of an inner courtyard which had been transformed into a dining space. I settled in with one of the wonderful companions from the trip – an editor friend from a popular woman’s magazine. A chilled cold coffee was the perfect thirst quencher after the afternoon heat. We skipped any traditional starters and I ordered Ravjul Malti, the famous homemade Maltese Raviolis with filled with ricotta and parmesan. My companion ordered a Penne with chicken and mushroom. We loved both the pasta preparations – the aroma of fresh herbs and homemade sauces were evident.
The golden hue of Maltese architecture still hangs over my vision while the azure blue of the Mediterranean has seeped deep into my senses. The charm of history, medieval nostalgia, delicious food and the warmth of the people in Malta triumphs over the humidity and the heat of the season. With a flight distance that is less than seven hours, this should be my next destination for a family holiday… only this time with a definite stop over at Larnaca and a ferry ride to Sicily, not even a hundred kilometres away!
Unblogging it all… Ishita
Disclaimer: It was my honour to be a guest of the Embassy of the Republic of Malta in the United Arab Emirates. For more info on Malta, visit www.visitmalta.com. We paid for our lunch at BeBirgu restaurant and for all our personal purchases from Find the Door. There aren’t any affiliated links in this post and the subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own. While you enjoy reading my posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from these posts.
Interesting reads: Saint Lawrence Band Club, Vittoriosa