Conserving a Cultural Gem: the Traditional Maltese Balcony
“O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?”
This line, taken from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, is one of the most quoted in the world. In this famous scene, Juliet is standing on a balcony, wishing Romeo’s last name was anything but Montague so that she could be with him!
Only in fair Verona can you see this beautifully-carved, renaissance-style stone balcony. The very sight of it captivates each and every one of the young lovers and romantics who visit the House of Capulet, year upon year.
However, Juliet’s balcony is certainly not the only famous balcony in the world!
- In the Vatican City, you can find the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica. This is where each new pope is crowned, in front of thousands of well-wishers underneath in St. Peter’s Square.
- In London, over the years, millions of people have gathered outside Buckingham Palace, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Queen stepping out onto the balcony, or to watch a newly-wedded, royal couple sharing a first kiss.
- And, of course, here in Malta we have traditional Maltese balconies. These can be seen on the façades of limestone buildings all over our marvellous, Mediterranean island.
The traditional Maltese balcony is steeped in history. It’s also grown to become one of the country’s most iconic symbols. We might have lost the Azure Window, but the balcony is here to stay! You can see traditional Maltese balconies everywhere, from the houses in Valletta to the apartments in St. Julian’s and far beyond.
Maltese balconies have inspired many talented artists. Even some Maltese designers, like Charles & Ron, have been known to incorporate them into their designs!
According to historians, the traditional, wooden, Maltese balcony takes inspiration from Arabic “mashrabiya”. These are wooden windows or ‘lookouts’ which jut out from a wall (first-floor-level or above), either with or without glass panels. Some also say that the origin of the distinctive green, the colour which every second balcony on the island seems to be painted, was a British contribution.
Houses in Malta that have a traditional Maltese balcony are well sought-after. What’s more, having one can considerably increase the value of your property in Malta! If you’re looking to rent a flat or a house, then be prepared to pay a little more for a place with one of these architectural gems. A traditional wooden balcony adds a quaint charm to a Maltese property that’s simply unbeatable.
If you’re looking to buy property in Malta, don’t even think about getting rid of any traditional balconies it might have! MEPA, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority, introduced a conservation scheme, some years ago, concerning these traditional, wooden, Maltese balconies.
MEPA encourages and helps owners to convert their modern balconies (which are often, quite frankly, major eyesores) into traditional ones. A fund has been set up whereby owners can receive financial assistance for their balcony-building projects. Not only that, people who buy a property in Sliema or anywhere else, with the intent of knocking it down and re-building it (or converting it into flats), are often required to keep the façade, and any traditional balconies it might have, intact.
This conservation scheme is such a fantastic step forward. Especially in terms of conserving traditional Maltese art, culture and architecture. In a time where you can see up to 10 cranes with just a single sweep of your eyes, and when high-rises are going up like crazy, it can only be seen as a positive thing.
If you’re looking to buy, rent or sell a property in Malta with a traditional Maltese balcony, then get in touch with one of our specialists now. Our team at Quick Lets are the go-to guys for speedy rentals. For sales, on the other hand, our fully-qualified team at Zanzi Homes can provide you with five-star service, from beginning to end.