5 Gardens In Malta You've Got To Visit This Spring
by Karl Azzopardi
The air is finally starting to warm up, birds are cheerfully chirping their tiny little hearts away and you can't walk down the street without someone sneezing all over you — ahhh, Spring truly is magical! And what better way is there to enjoy this season than frolicking among the flowers and trees at one of the many gorgeous gardens in Malta?
There are many gardens scattered across Malta where one can escape the hectic streets, surround themselves with nature's nurturing energy and recharge. In this article, we will mention five of the most popular gardens in Malta and tell you a little bit about these verdant oases.
San Anton Gardens
As the garden of the Maltese President's palace, San Anton Gardens is one of the (if not the) grandest botanical spots on the island. And wIth flora from all over the globe that are over 300 years old, it is definitely one of the oldest too!
It dates back to the 1600s when a knight of the Order of St John — Antoine de Paule — built a villa which he then turned into the palace that stands there today when he became Grand Master. The palace served multiple purposes after that including being the official residence of the British Governor from 1802 till 1964. It was during this time that the palace gardens were opened to the public, in 1882.
But there's is so much to explore within the grounds of San Anton Gardens aside from the towering trees and psychedelic variety of flowers. Every pathway leads to a new wonder like fountains, monuments, stunning architecture, ducks and even peacocks! It is truly a sight to behold on a sunny Spring day and is open to the public for free every day from morning till early evening.
Msida Bastion Historic Garden
Grand Master Antoine de Paule was also the man behind this next botanical spot located in what was formally known as St Philip's Bastion in Floriana which he commissioned.
This award-winning garden has quite an interesting history behind it. Before becoming the gorgeous garden it is today, the Msida Baston Historic Garden was actually the Msida Bastion Cemetery. For the first half of the 19th century, it served as a Protestant cemetery where civil and military Britians were buried alongside non-Catholics. It is also famous for being the resting ground for the patron of the Maltese language Mikiel Anton Vassalli.
During the Second World War, the bastion suffered considerable damage and the cemetery was left in an abandoned state for a number of years. However, in 1988 the Ministry of Education announced that the cemetery is to be restored and opened to the public as a garden. The works, executed by the cultural guardians at Din l-Art Helwa, were recognised by the pan-European Federation for Cultural Heritage Europe Nostra and awarded the works a Silver Medal in 2004.
Visitors can explore this flourishing Garden of Rest and the gorgeous views of Pieta`Creek and Yacht Marina for free between 9:30 am and noon from Monday to Saturday, and the first Sundays of the month.
Sa Maison Gardens
Not too far away from the Msida Bastion Cemetery lies Sa Maison Gardens, a quite verdant hideaway not frequented by many.
Its 5-storey structure is like no other on the island, with plenty of indigenous flora and historical relics to explore on each level. A focal point at the very top of Sa Maison Gardens is the Gardjola which was used as a watchtower by Regiments of the British Army. In fact, there are a number of regimental crests engraved on the garden walls as well as a miniature model of a castle dedicated to the 2nd Battalion of the Essex Regiment.
It is largely believed that it was built by Chevalier Caille Maison in the mid-18th century and used as a shooting range hence the name Sa Maison. However, an investigation into its true origins suggests that Fra Giovanni Minucci, a member of the Italian Langue of the Order of St John, was the first owner and curator of the land. Following Chevalier Caille Maison's passing, it served as Lady Julia Lockwood's residence in the 19th century, which earned the garden the name 'il-Gnien Tal-Milorda' (her Ladyship's garden). The Civil Government then took over its maintenance until 1903.
Every level of Sa Maison Gardens is open for the public to enjoy every day from the morning to early evening hours.
Romeo Romano Gardens
Tucked away within the busy streets of Santa Venera lie the Romeo Romano Gardens, which offer a much-needed getaway for residents and visitors of the area. This 18th-century baroque oasis originally served as the back garden of Casa Leoni (also known as Palazzo Manoel) built by Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena.
He used this land as his summer residence which explains why it's one of the largest gardens; second only to San Anton Gardens. Its layout is a testament to its function having a central pathway leading up to the palazzo and various other pathways that lead to distinct yet equally breathtaking gardens.
Romeo Romano Gardens got its name when it was opened to the public in 1977 — though certain areas were still closed off due to restoration works up until December of 2022. Works were done on the 'sienja', a water lifting apparatus installed in the 19th century to water the gardens, and on an underground bell-shaped water reservoir; while a playground was also introduced together with numerous citrus trees.
It is quite interesting to experience the silence and calm that lives within Romeo Romano Gardens' walls despite the chaos outside. So, it's no wonder that it's also crawling with street cats that seek refuge and some love from its visitors. You can go to experience it for yourself every day from early morning to late evening.
Of course, what would a list of the best gardens in Malta be without the most popular garden in Malta and the largest one of all — Buskett Gardens? Some might argue that this is more of a woodland rather than a garden, which, considering the size of over island, is pretty spot on. However, its name, deriving from the Italian word for small shrubbery areas Boschetto, suggests otherwise.
Almost every tree in Buskett Gardens was planted by the Knights of St John who used this area as hunting grounds in the 1500s after it had been deforested for agricultural and shipbuilding purposes. At the time the Verdala Palace, which serves as the President's summer residence today, was still a hunting lodge for the Knights.
This has resulted in a biodiverse green scape exploding with an intermixture of indigenous and non-native fauna which attracts hundreds of locals and foreigners alike seeking some peace or adventure. Buskett Gardens is completely open to the public 24/7 and is the perfect place to get lost and truly cut off from society for a while. That is any day except the 29th of June, as Buskett Gardens is flooded with hoards of people in celebration of our beloved L-Imnarja.