The colourful wooden balconies of Malta

Colourful_Wooden_Balconies_Malta_Europe

One of the first visual aspects to catch your eye while roaming the streets of Malta are the famously brightly painted wooden balconies that jut out from buildings over the streets below. The balconies are visually refreshing and definitely stand out against the sandstone buildings and streets that Malta is known for. The most colourful bunch of balconies can be found in Valletta, since this is where the trend was started back in the the mid 18th century and is now where most tourists flock to in order to see the famous architecture and revel in the history that engulfs the city.

Read more: Exploring Valletta – Malta’s tiny golden capital city with larger than life appeal

Colourful_Wooden_Balconies_Malta_Europe

Colourful_Wooden_Balconies_Malta_Europe

The history of the Maltese balcony has a few different variations depending on who you ask. The most popular story behind them is the association with North African culture and architecture, mainly derived from Morocco. The purpose of the balcony in Arab culture was to allow the women to have a view of the outside streets, while still remaining hidden from view, which tied in with the standards of modesty. The Arab origin of the balconies are referred to as a muxrabija, which is an Arabic word meaning the ‘look out place’.

Colourful_Wooden_Balconies_Malta_Europe

The Knight’s Order issued a decree stating that all the houses in the city had to have some sort of design element to it, so that’s when people started to adorn their homes with balconies. The Knights also “imported” many North African and Turkish slaves who were experts on building these type of balconies and were then incorporated within the streets of Valletta, but didn’t really become popular until the 19th century. Lumber was hard to come by before the 19th century in Malta, due to the fact that being situated in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, they weren’t part of global trading before until the British colony came into power.

Colourful_Wooden_Balconies_Malta_Europe

Colourful_Wooden_Balconies_Malta_Europe

Colourful_Wooden_Balconies_Malta_Europe

At first, the colours of the balconies were traditionally beige, white, green and pale yellow hues, but nowadays, the sky is the limit. The brighter, the better. The Maltese people started to paint their balconies to protect the lumber from the harsh elements of the sun in the summer time and a lot of the times, they would paint the doors of their homes to match the colour of their balconies, which created some serious curb appeal. Most of the older balconies have beautiful, ornate pillars at the bottom, which are called saljaturi, and are often decorated with flowers, or sculptures. The Grand Palace was one of the first buildings to be decorated with the wooden balcony and gorgeous saljaturi and boasts the largest in Valletta. People saw this as a symbol of power, prestige and upper class, which may have inspired people to copy the idea.

Read more: Valletta, Malta – 2018 European Capital of Culture

Colourful_Wooden_Balconies_Malta_Europe

Colourful_Wooden_Balconies_Malta_Europe

Colourful_Wooden_Balconies_Malta_Europe

The Maltese balconies are used for much more than their looks. Most homes in Malta, especially older ones, are not equipped with air conditioning. I would pretty much melt and my hair would be a frizzy disaster, but I’m also an A/C fiend, especially in the summer months! The balcony would provide a welcoming cool breeze within the scorching summer months, and a lot of sun exposure during those slightly cooler winter months. Another reason why a balcony is a must in Malta…drying wet clothing. Everywhere you look, you’ll find blankets, shirts, or some form of clothing hanging high above the streets, blowing gently in the sunny breeze. Seeing clothing being hung out to dry just screams old school European and added even more character to the already vibrant streets.

Read more: A One Week Itinerary For Visiting Malta During Off Season

Colourful_Wooden_Balconies_Malta_Europe

Colourful_Wooden_Balconies_Malta_Europe

Colourful_Wooden_Balconies_Malta_Europe

Colourful_Wooden_Balconies_Malta_Europe

There are newer wrought-iron styled balconies here and there throughout the streets are well, which add a nice mix of design element to the Maltese architecture. Both styles of balconies offer dramatic shadows to the building throughout the day as the sun shifts throughout the day. The wooden balconies provide a heavy dose of thick, boxy shadows, while the wrought-iron shadows look like ornate lace on the side of the buildings.

Colourful_Wooden_Balconies_Malta_Europe

As I wandered up and down the streets, I would glance up and see elderly men and women surveying the streets below, some were shouting to one another, some enjoying a coffee, or cigarette. If there’s one thing I discovered about the balconies through my travels, it’s that the Maltese balcony is and always will be as colourful and full of history as the Maltese culture itself.

Read more: The quirky and beautiful doors of Malta

 

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10 Replies to “The colourful wooden balconies of Malta”

  1. Hi, it is awesome the photos you share. I would like to ask how long it has taken you to get the gut to travel in places and be prepared for any obstacles. I’d like to know your way of reasoning too. ??

    1. Hi Ishmael,

      Thanks for asking and stopping by to read the blog! I really appreciate that! I’ve never really been afraid to do things on my own, so I think that’s why I’m pretty confident while travelling by myself. I also firmly believe that there are more good people in the world then bad, so I try to keep positive thoughts. My reasoning for travelling, mostly alone, is that if I waited for my friends to have money to travel anywhere, I’d probably never go anywhere. I’ve never been the type of person to stand around and wait, I’m actually pretty impatient lol, so I just said, you know what? If I don’t go when I want to go, when will I ever get to? 🙂 I hope that answers your questions! Thanks again for stopping by! 🙂

  2. Thanks, stay safe!

  3. Thanks for explaining the history of the balconies. Very interesting. I love your photos of all the different balconies. I could have spent hours walking the streets taking photos of them and noticing the details. So fun seeing all the beautiful colors and differences in each.

    1. I was obsessed with the balconies and the history behind them. If I had a little apartment there, I’d be the happiest girl! haha

  4. how nicely you wrote the history of balconies…and the pictures are very eye catching..will definitely go or vacations next year with my family…excellent article

    1. Wow. Thank you so much for the kind words. I really appreciate that! If you go to Malta, you will love it, I promise you that!! 🙂

  5. Your photos look incredible!! I will be visiting Malta alone (my first solo trip) this May. Feeling stocked! Do you happen to have the names of the street you visited to see the colourful balconies?

    1. Hi Nabilah! So excited for you to visit Malta. It’s such a beautiful country and you’ll love it.The colourful balconies can be found throughout the country, but the majority of them are all located in the main city of Valletta. If you are heading into Valletta, you’ll definitely have no troubles finding the colourful balconies. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask me .

  6. This site is absolutely fabulous!

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