Inland Villages, Malta Attractions
Although most of Malta's tourist sites and main towns lie on the coast, there is still much to see in the interior of the island. The villages here are quaint and less affected by tourism.
Attard - San Anton Palace
In 1620 Antoine de Paule began to enlarge his country house near Attard. When he became grand master three years later he so disliked the long journey to the traditional summer palace at Verdala that he adopted San Anton Palace as his summer retreat. The palace has been tinkered with by successive grand masters.The public section of the gardens were opened in 1882. The oldest part of the well-maintained and mature grounds is the Eagle Pond, dating from 1623, at the opposite end of the palace. In addition, there is a small aviary and most of the trees, plants and flowers are flagged. Among the numerous species are Washington palms, Jacaranda, Norfolk Island pines, citrus, avocado, bamboo and the wonderfully twisted roots of the fat-leafed ficus benghatenis.A limited part of the palace terrace is open to the public.De Vilhena's 1722 chapel to Our Lady of the Pillar is on the right at the start of the tunnel to the St Anthony Street entrance.
Naxxar is one of the original parishes of 1436. It is claimed that it was here that St Paul first received and dried his robes over the fire after the shipwreck (Naxxar means "to hang clothes to dry").It was once a sleepy farming village close to Mosta. Now over-building has linked the two communities in places.
Behind St Paul's Church is the private Gauci Tower, built in 1548. This is one of the first of the island's defenses, built with Grand Master de Homedes' permission after a stealthy corsair raid when members of Cikko Gauci's family were carted off into slavery. The drop boxes on the roof, from which Gauci hoped to pour hot oil and drop projectiles, echo the design of the older octagonal tower in Qrendi. On the other side of the road is the private Torri tal-Kapitan (the Captain's Tower) built in 1558 by the knights to keep a vigil on the northern plain and coasts.
Church of St Paul
Outside this 1696 humble church is a statue of St Paul. Tradition says he preached from here so forcefully that his voice was heard in Gozo.
San Pawl Tat-Targa
In the northern part of the town, towards the lip of the Victoria Lines, is San Pawl Tat-Targa. This suburb has one of the earliest of the knights' defenses.
The city is bisected by the main road, which links the Valletta suburbs with both Rabat and Mosta. There are nice antique and brocante (bric-a-brac) shops and numerous churches.
Parish Church of St Helen's
This big, flashy and lively church was begun in 1727 and completed in 1745 towards the end of the Maltese Baroque period. Design details make this Sicilian-influenced facade one of the island's finest, with pilasters and angels gesticulating wildly around the intricate bell-towers; there is a rhythm to the three ground-floor-door-and window-pediments that even the strangely out-of-sync center window can't disturb.Inside it is conventional Latin-plan, a little heavy but lightened by rich frescoes, and in direct contrast to the bubbly facade.
Parish Church of the Assumption
The Parish Church of the Assumption in Birkirkara was designed by Vittorio Cassar at the beginning of the 1600s when Renaissance was merging with Baroque. Tommasso Dingli's facade completed the older Cassar's work in 1617. You can see the painstakingly delicate detail on the twin superimposed Corinthian columns and the crisp motifs above, all set beneath the shallow, now broken, triangular pediment.The church is undergoing restoration.
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