6 Peaceful Places In Malta And Gozo You Had No Idea Existed
There IS some refuge from the noise and bustle after all
Malta is a small, densely populated island, and its public spaces are decreasing at an alarming rate as the national habit of erecting flettsijiet doesn’t seem to be letting up any time soon. And what we tend to forget is that a lack of space in which we can just go in – for free – to relax in and let our mind wander leads to serious bouts of stress.
Luckily, it’s not all doom and gloom, as a new publication sets out to show. Cloistered Spaces, published by the National Hub for Ethobotanic Research within the President’s Foundation for Wellbeing in Society, compiles a good number of places where peace and tranquility reigns above all else.
The good news is that most of these places are either entirely open to the public, or simply a phone call away. Here’s a few you may be willing to explore in the near future.
1. Mount St Joseph Retreat House (Mosta)
Offering restful quiet and a chance to engage in spiritual exercises (for those so inclined), this retreat house dates back to the 1960s, when it was built by the Jesuits – who recently completed a new afforestation project in the area with the help of students from St Aloysius College.
The turfed area in the back garden is used all year round by families and children, while the house is open to all who would like some time with their thoughts.
To arrange a visit to Mount St Joseph Retreat House, contact Fr Godwin Preca: 2276 0000.
2. The Dominican Priory (Rabat)
Hardly cut off from daily life in Rabat – you would have driven past it many a time on your way to Buskett – and despite the fact that it boasts its own radio station, activity centres and dormitories, The Dominican Priory still manages to create a cocoon of peace.
With its square shaped cloister and accompanying orange grove, the Priory also boasts breathtaking views from the cloister’s rooftop.
To arrange a visit to the Dominican Priory, contact Fr Angelo Mamo: 2145 4592.
3. Villa Frere (Pieta)
Built by British diplomat and writer John Hookham Frere (1769-1846), this beautiful Victorian garden – in which Frere even hosted Mikiel Anton Vassalli – sadly fell into disrepair after his death, with the adjoining St Luke’s Hospital getting rid of its upper gardens to build a helipad, and lack of funding and general goodwill from the government not helping to stem the rot.
However, a dedicated NGO, Friends of Villa Frere, led by architect Edward Said, have slowly but surely been doing their bit to ensure the gardens are restored to at least a portion of their former glory.
To arrange a visit to Villa Frere, contact Edward Said: 9944 7075.
4. Holy Trinity Anglican Church (Sliema)
If there’s a place crying out for some peace, it’s Sliema. The bustling conurbation of shopping districts and a booming (and ever-gentrifying) residential areas can be overwhelming at the best of times. So the Holy Trinity Anglican Church – found in Rudolph Street – is a wonderful surprise, and a welcome feature of the community.
To arrange a visit to the Holy Trinity Anglican Church, contact Mrs Aileen Grech: 7904 8509.
5. The Carmelite Priory (Mdina)
Known for its strong academic backbone and its tradition of beekeeping (a fact yielding results to this day) the Carmelite Priory is also notable in that it has always chosen to embrace the community rather than shut itself off.
The Priory’s rich culinary tradition does not stop at honey, as its friars draw from recipes dating back all the way to 1693.
To arrange a visit to The Carmelite Priory, contact Fr Charlo Camilleri: 2145 4524.
6. Manresa Retreat House (Rabat, Gozo)
Located at the outskirts of town, this retreat house – built by the Gozitan Curia in 1810 – boasts views of both the sea and the Gozitan landscape. It also has an inner and outer garden – the latter of which is similar in shape and structure to the Mount St Joseph Retreat House in Mosta.
To arrange a visit to the Manresa Retreat House, contact Mr Joseph Mercieca: 2155 6635.
Unless otherwise stated, all photos by John Paul Cauchi. Cloistered Spaces is available to buy from all bookshops.