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The Building of the Heritage Boutique Accommodation. The structure itself, as well as its surroundings, contrast the ancient and the new. They draw the observer into a time loop spanning several eras.

The Story

The balcony, the alcoves, the floor, the ceilings, the arches, and the beams all have a lot to say. Telling a story of men, women, and children who made the house their home. It tells the story of the labours and sacrifices made by the masons, builders, and artisans who created and altered it over time. One may hear echoes of the past, the bargains struck, and litigations fought. An echo of all these tales that vanish into time, into the late medieval period.

The Features

The Heritage Accommodation used to be linked to the Catacombs of St. Cathaldus through its rock-cut basement. Access was cut off over the years as the catacombs were hived off into a standalone structure. The house, to this day, retains a number of architectural elements. In particular, a clustering of features of Arabic inspiration confirms its distant roots in time. The house has distinct, separate staircases leading to different sections of the building. 

As was common in homes built in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries in Malta. One enters the house through a ‘siqifah’, a short-arched passageway leading to the central courtyard. This is a typical feature of vernacular architecture of Muslim origin. The shaded open space enhances natural lighting and ventilation inside the building. The walls were built using the so-called wet-rubble technique on top of unevenly hewn bare rock. This method was typical of pre-Hospitaller Malta and is particularly evident in the ground-floor inner rooms.

Foreign Influence

Other notable features that denote the building’s antiquity include the roofing system. Different forms of corbelled roofs are present. As well as a building technique that was imported to Malta during the Arab period from the Middle East. This method was modified locally to suit the physical properties of Maltese limestone. The house seems to have undergone a major refurbishment in the seventeenth century. Such refurbishment was also attested to by pottery fragments discovered during work on the new lift installed in 2021. The pottery fragments date from the mid-eighteenth century.

The Building of the Heritage Boutique Accommodation

This is typical vernacular architecture. Placing it within the late medieval and early modern urban vernacular building paradigms.