Three Villages, Malta Attractions
Beyond Birkirkara's indefinable limits are the Siamese triplet villages of Attard, Balzan and Lija, known collectively as the Three Villages. During the last 300 to 400 years these small settlements gathered around village churches and fertile groves have grown into solid and wealthy towns.The Maltese president, the American, German and EU ambassadors and the incumbent Grand Master all live within the Three Villages.
The most interesting part of Balzan is in Three Churches Street (It-Tliet Knejjes) at the eastern corner of the square: 120m from the square, in the oldest part of the village and grouped together around an old meeting or cemetery cross there are three old churches. Little St Roque, sophisticated in its simplicity, was built in 1593 during a terrible plague (Roque is the patron saint of plague). For what must have been a rapid building program, there is some fine, if naive, detail. Note the circular window above the door, which uses a set of six ordinary intertwined semi-circles to form a striking pattern. Above its setting, a crude molded square, is a charming tiny triangle pediment enclosing a delicate flower. The church is open every Sunday, but mass is said only once a year.The other two churches are the earlier Annunciation and St Leonard's, which is now a house.
Attard - St Mary's Parish Church
St Mary's is the best and probably the last of the handful of Renaissance-style churches built on Malta. The church was completed in 1613 based on designs attributed to either Vittorio Cassar or Tommasso Dingli, who was born here. The facade is nearly identical to that of the Assumption in Birkirkara (also credited to Dingli), and is a pleasing relief from the baroque style, with an elegant temple front and a neat triangular pediment above a circular window. The main door columns are finely detailed stone carvings and the six niches are occupied by saints.The campanile was added to the cruciform plan in 1718. There is a small pastoral museum to the right of the church.
Lija - Our Lady of Miracles Church
Our Lady of Miracles Church is said to be built at the precise center of the island. Build by Grand Master Cotoner in 1664 on the site of an earlier church, it is a neat building with an unusually generous dome. The thoughtful main altarpiece is "the Virgin and Child" by Mattia Preti. To the right is the much-venerated 16th C. wooden triptych of the Madonna. According to legend, tears flowed from her eyes during the earthquake of 1743.Opposite the church is an old farmer's shed where the horns of a bull are used to ward off the "evil eye."
Lija - Parish Church of St Savior
This church was designed by Giovanni Barbara in 1694 when he was just 24. It's an austere building in an equally cold square, but most of its detail is original. To the right of the church, past a statue of St Peter, is the earlier 16th C. parish church to St Savior.