The last time we met with Lisa Gwen was for our feature on MaltaDoors, an online archive of photos the photographer and aesthete has taken over two years around Malta and Gozo. In our interview, we learned that the photographer enjoys picking different villages to visit and spending the afternoon wandering about, capturing photographs of doors and facades that strike her attention and take her back in time.
We tend to spend our hours typing away behind laptop screens like normal people so, fascinated by this strange activity, we picked a sunny Saturday and resolved to accompany Lisa Gwen on a ‘photowalk’ in Raħal Ġdid.
Take a 20 minute stroll up any road and you’ll find that Raħal Ġdid (or Paola), is rich with diverse and distinctive architecture. Gorgeous British colonial homes dominate most of this town’s streetscapes; but, at the same time, you’ll find no shortage of baroque intricacies, masonry inspired by the natural forms and structures that define the art nouveau movement and instances of colourful art deco gems.
If you want to give a lecture (or a tour) about architecture in Malta, Raħal Ġdid is one of the best classrooms you can use.
The photos in this article have been taken by Ramon Azzopardi Fiott and Lisa Gwen.
Follow Lisa Gwen’s work on her Instagram account, MaltaDoors. You can find the Facebook page of Maltadoors here.
Follow Ramon Azzopardi Fiott’s work on his Facebook page, Ramon Azzopardi Fiott – Designer & Artist!
Just shy of 400 years old, this town was built by Grand Master Antoine de Paule. Because it was built on a swampland, interest to move here was initially quite low. To solve this, Antoine de Paule, as Grand Master, gave indemnity from debts to families who would move there. This, coupled with Paola’s proximity to the harbours, proved quite a charming incentive. Quite early on in its history, a local disease would lead many to desert this town, but after some intervention, Raħal Ġdid gradually became habitable again. Today, it is a thriving commercial centre that promises to keep grabbing your attention.
(We were also accompanied by Roma, Ramon’s dog. ^)
Got inspired to spare an hour or two for a stroll around Raħal Ġdid? Here’s a number of places worth your seconds:
Raħal Ġdid’s Parish Church
Paola’s church is the biggest of the Maltese islands. Considering we have at least one church for every day of the year, this is a noteworthy feat. If you’re new to the island or haven’t ventured to this town yet, this we promise is a stunner that’ll make your eyes look up and your jaw drop down. It tells you that when it comes to religion, food, and family, Maltese people never choose subtlety.
Its (largely) paved square, shopping centres, & cafeterias
In Raħal Ġdid’s pjazza you will feel like you’re at an intersection. You’re guaranteed to get a healthy mix of shops local and international, old and new. Moreover, while its various attractions draw a continuous stream of tourists and expats, its provision of many key services and institutions make it one of Malta’s most frequented places by locals from different areas living in the south and central regions.
The Islamic Cultural Centre & The Mariam Al-Batool Mosque
Libyan architect Mohammed Abid Elshukri designed this mosque and, as per his design, plastered limestone painted in green, yellow and pink colours was used for the contruction. Muhammad Gadaffi
The Addolorata Cemetery
Beyond the intricate masonry, and the Mausoleums and statues in marble and bronze, the most iconic building of this state owned cemetery is the neo-gothic Chapel that sits atop its hill. The chapel’s spire, surrounded by trees, make it a dramatic sight to behold from any angle or distance. It has been designed by Emanuele Luiġi Galizia, the civil engineer and architect behind many of Malta’s most distinguished architectural pieces, from quays, to stations, to aqueducts. (find architect)