As I set foot on the sunny shores of Malta, my eyes were immediately captivated by an unexpected spectacle of architectural vibrancy. Coming from central/eastern Europe, I was accustomed to the rather boring palette of whites, greys, and the occasional red brick dominating the buildings—a stark contrast to what I’ve seen after arriving here. Malta, this mesmerizing archipelago, isn’t just a treasure trove of historical narratives woven into ancient temples and formidable fortresses. It’s a canvas where every stroke of color on the doors that grace the narrow streets marks a bold expression of cultural richness. But why Malta has these colorful doors?
I found myself drawn into the mystery behind these chromatic entrances. Each hue, a narrative; every pattern, a silent testament to the islands’ unique historical journey. This tradition of vividly painted doors, so deeply embedded in Malta’s architectural psyche, intrigued me beyond mere visual appeal. What profound legacy had birthed this tradition, setting Malta apart in its celebration of color? This question propelled me forward, eager to unravel the colorful mysteries hidden in plain sight.
A Colonial Influence for colorful doors in Malta?
Malta’s timeline is a kaleidoscope of different cultures, each leaving an indelible mark on the country’s customs and aesthetics. The tradition of painting doors in bright colors may have been significantly influenced during the British colonial period. While the Brits might not be famous for vibrant architecture, they contributed to the Maltese penchant for expressive door colors by introducing colorful military regiments and symbols of rank and unit.
Moreover, in the 20th century, Malta blossomed economically, and with prosperity came the desire to display individuality and wealth, which possibly contributed to the trend of residents making their homes—and specifically their doors—stand out with unique color schemes.
Symbolism and Superstition
The colors of Maltese doors go beyond aesthetic appeal and delve into the realm of symbolism and superstition. Some locals believe certain colors ward off evil—echoing the Mediterranean tradition of the ‘evil eye‘—and attract good fortune. For instance, green doors might symbolize prosperity, while blue ones are believed to ward off negative energy. This rich cultural aspect turns each door into a story, a personal expression of the household’s beliefs and aspirations.
Colors of the Mediterranean
The geographical setting of Italy has had its influence on the color palette as well. Surrounded by the serene blues of the Mediterranean and home to a variety of natural landscapes, the environment itself offers a range of organic pigments. The warm, sun-drenched climate is conducive to brighter, lighter color schemes, which are reflective and help in keeping the interiors cool. The coastal villages, particularly, often boast a spectrum of blues, greens, and whites, mimicking the sea, sky, and waves — an aesthetic feature that helps the towns blend harmoniously with their seaside setting.
Impact on Tourism and Heritage Sites
Malta’s government and local artisans recognize the cultural and historical significance of these colorful doors. In Valletta, Mdina, and other key locations, there’s a concerted effort to preserve this characteristic feature of Maltese architecture. It enriches the tourism experience, inviting visitors to wander the narrow streets with their cameras ready to capture the rainbow of doors, each telling a different story. For me, personaly, I admire the small fisherman houses in rular localities, where the design, slightly worned out by the sea, makes it look very organic, as part of the nature.
What do you think of colorful doors in Malta?