By William Markiewicz

Sleeping Goddess
(Sleeping Goddess, Malta -- drawing -- WM)

Malta doesn't have spectacular landscape; redoubts and architecture are its crags and hills, from megalithic prehistoric remnants to immense medieval fortifications. From the heights of citadels you're overwhelmed by the view below. When you're down you're 'smashed' by what you see above you. After the invaders' defeat, the Pope sent the best architects to rebuild Malta. A dream like beauty was created with human hands. The color of the stone is radiant cream. There are practically no ugly streets in Malta. I am a nature lover and still it didn't bother me that there was very little greenery along the streets. The beauty of Baudelaire's "stone flower" comes to mind. There is little rain so the Maltese are rather thrifty with water for plants.

Malta's beauty is more mysterious than sophisticated. The history that shaped Malta didn't reach its inhabitants at their shores. Malta is dichotomic: the flamboyant history that reciprocally shaped Malta and Europe touched Malta externally first of all. The Turkish assaults were repelled at the walls of its mighty fortifications by the Maltese Knights who had come from outside. Other, successful, invasions still couldn't shake the archaic Maltese, comfortably set in their Phoenician Semitic heritage, in their sleepy fishing villages.

Malta doesn't need a quest for identity. Today's modern Malta remains down to earth. Catholicism shaped the soul of the Maltese, but in a different way than in other Catholic countries. The Maltese were historically subdued but not transformed by the waves of invaders that passed over them. The Spaniards, for instance, built history. In Malta history fell upon them. The situation made them discreet, humble and austere. The Maltese seem indestructible and attached unconditionally to their freedom. Being an island helped them to maintain their unique status of 'planet apart'. Visit Malta and get lost in another dimension. That's how I experienced it.

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