Walking around the narrow back streets of Bormla (also known as Cospicua), whilst photographing an old door, of the many derelict houses in the area, I was approached by two very young girls – around 6 and 9 years old, respectively. ‘You like this door?’ the older of the two said. ‘Come, I will show you more…’
‘this is where my grandfather lived when he was a boy’, my unintended chaperone told me… read/ see more on Doors and Facades
A page dedicated to my love of all things doors and facades, from wherever I find myself in the world. Currently, it’s the tiny little Mediterranean island of Malta. And, if there is a story to be told, even better.
Walking around the narrow back streets of Bormla (also known as Cospicua), whilst photographing an old door, of the many derelict houses in the area, I was approached by two very young girls – around 6 and 9 years old, respectively. ‘You like this door?’ the older of the two said. ‘Come, I will show you more’. As she led me down the street, she proceeded to inform me as to which houses were empty, and which were not – and one house, in particular, she announced that ’the lady died so you can live there’. (‘I’m sorry‘, I said, to which she shrugged nonchalantly ‘it’s ok‘).
And, ‘this is where my grandfather lived when he was a boy’, my unintended chaperone told me, as she and her younger sister (who said nothing, but just stared at me the whole time, from beneath a long black fringe) led me to yet more doors, down an adjacent narrow street. ‘You like this door, it’s (the house) empty, so you can buy this one’. I replied that I would have to consult my bank manager.
I’m both amused and perturbed by their attention – after all, the two minors were leading a complete stranger on a tour of the back streets of Bormla (or, worse yet, it would appear to be the other way around). As I was about to say that perhaps they should go home, a disembodied male voice boomed, in Maltese, from the direction of the street where I had met the girls. To which, they turned and began to run towards the voice, the older girl shouting back over her shoulder at me, ‘bye-bye, ciao!’, whilst waving, as they turned the corner. And, just like that, they were gone… I didn’t even get to know their names.
Here are few more doors and facades from Bormla/ Cospicua/Hamrun/Sliema/St Julians
See more of Helen Jones-Florio’s doors and facades on WordlyImages (flickr)
To find my bearings, I walked… and I walked. It’s the only way that I know to get a real sense of any place I’ve ever landed in. So, leaving the vast concrete and glass apartment complex, perched on a peninsula, I turned down one narrow side-street after another – off the main drag of Sliema – and the true architectural beauty of Malta began to reveal itself… Helen Jones-Florio / Times of Malta
Having lived long-term in two major capitals, London and New York, where ‘rejuvenation’, ‘gentrification’, ‘generi-fication’ – however you want to tag it – has left its mark, which sadly, all too often means taking something away…
Each and every door or facade has a story – and, someone, somewhere on the island can tell it. And, I want to see what’s behind the doors – hence, I’m often peeking through letterboxes and broken windows! Read full feature in Times of Malta
Abandoned, derelict, buildings have always held a fascination for me…
This particular one, a big house named ’Savoy’, is at the top of Savoy Hill, Gzira, Malta. It’s been derelict for the last three years, at least. Who knows how long prior to that. I’ve tried to find some information on it and the most I can come up with, thus far, is that it may have been a guest house.
Walking by the other day, Florio noticed that the front doors were open – they are usually padlocked with a big old rusty lock. Maybe there were workmen in there, at last, beginning a renovation project? ‘Hello, anybody home?’. No answer. What harm could it do, to take a quick peek? I’ve wanted to see inside this place since the first time we walked past it, three years ago.
Entering into the cool interior of what must have once been an impressive foyer, a beautifully ornate, wrought iron stairway, gracefully curves its way up to the first floor. Beneath our feet, and years of dust, beautiful old Maltese tiles, still very much intact in many places, line the floor. Could this have been a reception area? Several low-slung easy, art-deco style, armchairs, piled into one corner. And, judging by wooden bed frames, stacked up high, one on top of the other, in another room, and numerous old wardrobes (in one of the rooms, they were mysteriously lined up, barricade-like, against panoramic floor to ceiling windows, as if to obstruct the light or, perhaps, to keep something, or someone, out? Derelict buildings always arouse my vivid imagination!) suggests that it could very well have been a guest house or small hotel.
The marble stairs still looked solid enough, so we carefully made our way up the first curving flight, onto the first-floor landing. Treading with caution, hoping that the potholed, rubble-strewn floor would hold our weight, we edged our way through a labyrinth of hallways, poking our heads into room after room, sunlight pouring in from the many broken windows, lighting our way (I’m not sure I’d have been so brave to explore if there hadn’t been any natural light. LIke I said, vivid imagination). From the outside – despite its present state of dilapidation – one could imagine that the building was once a house that would have stood out, regally, amongst its neighbours. And, from what we could see, that would have been reflected in the interior, too.
I need to do some more digging, there must surely be photos somewhere, that depicts the house in it’s grander days, inside and out? Next time we pass by, and if we are lucky, and we find the front door is unlocked and open wide again, maybe we’ll venture up to the 2nd floor and onwards.