Family Destination

Malta - a top destination for family fun filled holidays!

The Gardens of Malta and Gozo

Malta has a number of attractive public gardens. There is a good concentration of them in Valletta and Floriana and some farther out of the harbour towns. Many are quite small, but what they lack in size they more than make up for by their historical interest. In the dry summer months they provide a cool oasis of shade and a welcome break from more energetic activities.
Upper Barracca GardensValletta’s gardens seem almost like a planning afterthought, tucked as they are on bastions on the city’s edges. The Upper Barracca Gardens were originally the private gardens of the Knights of the langue of Italy and were only open to the public in 1824. They are one of the most popular attractions in the city, loved by visitors and locals alike and justly famed for their unsurpassed views over Grand Harbour and the three cities. The gardens contain several monuments and sculptures, most notably a copy of Antonio Sciortino’s Les Gavroches.  The Noon Day Gun is also fired daily from the Saluting Battery in the Gardens.
Lower Barracca GardensNearer to the Grand Harbour’s mouth is the Lower Barracca Gardens. This is a much quieter spot with equally good harbour views. The garden’s centrepiece is a neo classical monument to Sir Alexander Ball, the islands’ first British Governor and an important figure in the early days of the relationship between the two countries.
Hastings Gardens, MaltaThe frequently overlooked Hastings Gardens are actually Valletta’s largest, straddling a stretch of bastions just above the flight of steps to the left of the city’s entrance. It’s one of the best places to get an idea of the city’s mighty fortifications and the views over Marsamxett Harbour and the nearby towns are another draw.  The marble sarcophagus of Lord Hastings, Viceroy of India until 1824 and Governor of Malta until his death in 1827, occupies a central space in the garden.
Argotti Gardens, MaltaFloriana, Valletta’s immediate suburb, has more than its fair share of gardens and likes to style itself as a garden city – not without some justification too.  Immediately outside Valletta is the Mall – a 300 metre strip of trees and vegetation – originally a sort of sporting ground where the Knights practised a game called maglio, from where the name derives. The Mall leads directly to Argotti Gardens. Argotti was laid out in the eighteenth century. Officially Malta’s botanical garden, Argotti has a good collection of plant species with a remarkable representation of cacti. Sadly, signage is all but absent. Of more interest is the private section of the garden with a number of indigenous plants – if you ask nicely you are quite likely to be permitted to have a peek around.
Next door to Argotti and with an entrance that is easily overlooked is St. Philip’s Garden – practically an extension of Argotti. Its most interesting feature is a large (nowadays non-functioning) fountain that Grand Master Wignacourt had originally set up in Valletta’s Saint George’s Square to commemorate the completion of the aqueduct which provided Valletta with a permanent supply of water – a precious commodity in an island where the resource is scarce, and more so for a city planned to withstand lengthy sieges.
Sa Maison GardensOn the road from Floriana to Pieta there’s one of the most atmospheric of public gardens. Sa Maison Garden is split on five levels of Valletta’s outer fortifications. Originally Sa Maison was built as a hunting lodge in the Knights’ time but the garden’s Maltese name, Il-Gnien Tal-Milorda (Her Ladyship’s Garden) recalls Lady Julia Lockwood, who lived there in the mid nineteenth century. The garden was later used by various regiments as an observation post and the soldiers were also responsible for the garden’s upkeep. Various regimental crests are in fact carved on the garden’s walls. An attractive sentry box on the garden’s topmost level offers great views of Marsamxett and the suburbs of Pieta and Msida.
Peacock at San Anton GardensThe gardens adjoining San Anton Palace in Attard are probably the best known in Malta and among the most attractive too. Grand Master de Paule built the palace as his summer residence and in the British period the palace served as the official residence of the British Governor; today it still serves that purpose to the President of Malta. While the palace still retains a small private garden, the larger part has been open to the public since 1882. San Anton is a formally laid garden with mature trees, flower beds, ponds and fountains. Swans, ducks and pheasants wander freely in this spacious and delightful green oasis.
Mdina Ditch Garden & Main GateHoward Gardens in Rabat is not easily missed – it’s just to your right as you are entering Mdina. It is a convenient resting place after a morning’s sightseeing and is now linked with the newly opened Mdina Ditch Garden which offers access to previously closed sections of the old capital’s moat and bastions.
Verdala Castle, MaltaBuskett Gardens is on the outskirts of Rabat. Originally planted out as an extensive hunting ground by the Knights – one in which imported wild boar were reputedly set up for the knights’ hunting pleasure -  it has, more than four hundred years on, become a self-regenerating woodland and an important habitat for wildlife. Buskett is more of a woodland than a garden in fact. There are orange orchards as well as large numbers of pines, oaks, cypresses, olives and other indigenous species of trees and shrubs. Buskett is also a prime bird watching site in the spring and autumn migration seasons, when birds of prey swoop over the area at sundown looking for a place to roost.
Maltese Pyramidal OrchidThe Majjistral Park sits rather awkwardly in the gardens category. It is basically a chunk of Maltese countryside three times the size of Valletta that has, since 2007, been designated as Malta’s first Nature Park.  Majjistral contains examples of most of Malta’s natural habitats though a huge chunk is garigue – a habitat that comes alive in spring with a plethora of flowers and aromatic herbs. A garden made by nature to compete with the best that man can do.
Ta Qali National ParkMore formal than Majjistral is the Ta Qali National Park – with a mix of landscaped walkways and areas of less formal woodland. The park is a large one by Maltese standards and also contains a number of children’s attractions: a petting farm, an adventure park and also an outdoor gym. Quiet during weekdays, it tends to attract locals in droves on Sunday afternoons. The park was laid out in the 1990’s over parts of a disused World War II aerodrome.
Garden of SerenityAnother recently constructed garden is the Chinese built Garden of Serenity in Santa Lucia, a suburb of Paola. This is a small classic Chinese garden where the two elements of rock and water predominate. A haven of quiet in a densely populated area of the island.
Palazzo ParisioIn addition to these public gardens, two private ones deserve mention. Villa Bologna in Attard is Malta’s largest private residence with an adjoining eight hectares of landscaped gardens. Baroque and 1920’s elements make the garden one of the most attractive in Malta – well sought after for society weddings.  Equally chic are the private gardens of Palazzo Parisio in Naxxar – a precious quiet haven in the midst of the town’s busy centre.
Villa Rundle GardenGozo’s main public garden is Villa Rundle Garden off Victoria’s main drag Republic Street. It’s a small unassuming affair but pleasant enough since being given a lavish refurbishment in recent years.
Kenuna Tower GardenMore interesting is the Kenuna Tower Garden in Nadur, also in Gozo. Built around a semaphore (signalling) tower dating to 1848, the garden not only has impressive views over the Gozo countryside but is uniquely dedicated to indigenous wild plants and trees. It’s here that you can see cultivated examples of Malta’s rare national tree – the sandarac gum tree, and plants such as the Malta Everlasting and the Maltese Centaury – the latter Malta’s national flower. These two plants are endemic to Malta and therefore not present in the wild anywhere else in the world.
Phoenicia Kitchen Garden for self-sourced restaurant
The colourful vegetable garden spans 4,000 square metres, sitting close to the restaurant within the hotel's impressive grounds which boast lush greenery and stunning views of the harbour.
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Floriana’s many gardens
Floriana’s oldest garden is the Mall whose origins date back to 1656. Grand Master Lascaris built this elongated strip mainly as a place where Knights could practice a popular game of the time called maglio but there are many other interesting Gardens to take in.
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