Home   >   Tips   >   Culture   >   6 Awe-Inspiring Features You Can Find In Traditional Maltese Homes

6 Awe-Inspiring Features You Can Find In Traditional Maltese Homes

by Chiara Micallef

Share this

Traditional Maltese and Gozitan homes are memorable, identifiable and impressive to say the least – with many of their elements proving to be timeless principles of design and functionality time and time again. 

From distinctive wooden beams to mind-blowing cantilever stairs, colourful wooden balconies and dramatic door knockers, here are six traditional Maltese home features we cannot get enough of. 

1. The Distinctive Wooden Doors 

The traditional door found in Maltese homes is made out of solid wood and has a number of charming features – such as the celebrated habbata (knocker) or the globular earthenware pum (knob). Most doors nowadays still hold their authentic features, such as the skudett and serratura (key-plate and keyhole) made from brass or iron. These doors were fitted with firrolli (door bolts) made from sturdy metal for added security. 

2. The Breath-Taking Stairs 

Both the tarag tal-Ingliza (cantilever stairs) and the garigor (spiral staircase) are customary features in Maltese homes. 

The tarag tal-Ingliza was introduced in Malta after the 1800s – when the British rule began. These geometrical stairs are made from chiselled stone ingrained in the wall. Each step is wider on the wall-side, providing it with a graceful right-angle and a fitted wrought-iron poggaman (handrail) on the opposing side for added support. Traditionally, the tarag tal-Ingliza was painted using zejt tal-kittien (linseed oil). This allowed for easier cleaning and an aesthetically pleasing element. 

The stone garigor on the other hand was commonly used as a secondary flight at the back of more extensive homes. Traditionally these staircases ran straight from the ground floor to the roof – with a doorway on each floor. 

3. The Iconic Balconies

You cannot discuss traditional home elements without mentioning the iconic gallarija. A true piece of art that blesses numerous Maltese and Gozitan streets with its gorgeous recessed alcoves and wooden box frames. Most wooden balconies feature a rewwieha (fanlight window) which could be opened to allow a light breeze in. Other archetypal balconies include the Gozitan open stone beauties and intricate iron balconies.

4. The Impressive Ceilings

Most houses of character are roofed using xorok tal-qasba (stone slabs), which are laid across the ceiling to rest on kileb (corbels). Other Maltese roofs feature hnejjiet (arches) which are used to support the stone slabs. Most townhouse ceilings are equipped with wooden or iron travi (beams) designed to provide added support to the ceiling.

5. The Charming Antiporta 

These internal doors are typically made out of a wooden structure and textured glass panes – designed to provide privacy while still allowing natural light to pass through. The glass panes are generally covered up utilising intricate lace curtains.

6. The Mesmerising Patterned Tiles 

These authentic darlings are made using sectioned casts and a colourful mixture of cement, pigment and marble dust as their first layer. Each unit of the form is filled in, and later on covered, with a layer of cement and sand – which makes up the median layer of the traditional Maltese tiles. 

The bottommost layer consists of cement, sand and hard stone chips. This provides the strength that these handmade darlings are known for. Needless to say, Maltese tiles are a striking work of art that truly cements the distinctiveness of traditional Maltese homes.

Want to learn more? Check out Yellow's Culture section for more articles 

About Chiara Micallef

Chiara is a content writer with a love for delicious food, beautiful art, music, travel and bizarre history facts. 

She enjoys nothing more than reading, trying out new dishes and petting cats.