This is the second of our monthly blog posts which take a closer to look at individual localities in Malta and Gozo, and find out what makes them so attractive to homeowners. Our first Locality of the Month was Attard.
In this month’s edition, we cover the another locality from the Three Villages cluster, Balzan.
Located at the centre of Malta, Balzan is the smallest village out of the Three Villages, yet the second largest in terms of population. The statistics from the latest census show that as of March 2013, Balzan is home to nearly 4,000 inhabitants.
This tranquil and historical locality is very sought after by home owners. It has recently seen a boom in the construction of apartments, mainly concentrated on the outskirts of Balzan since the historic centre is a protected area.
Records show that the village of Balzan was inhabited as early as the beginning of the 15th century, with the dwellers consisting mainly of farmers who worked the surrounding fields. Originally part of Birkirkara, it was in the 17th century that Balzan started being considered as a separate locality.
This event in the village’s history occurred after Balzan acquired its own parish church, a religious building which stands to this day at the heart of the village and which is one of the locality’s principal attractions.
Even after becoming an independent parish, the population of Balzan remained low but this changed dramatically during World War II, when a large number of families from the Harbour region sought refuge from the daily enemy attacks moved into the safer central villages.
Many people from the Cottonera area settled in Balzan during that time and by the time the war ended, they had grown so fond of the quiet village that many decided to live there permanently.
A quick overview
Like many other Maltese villages, the name Balzan is thought to derive from the surname or characteristic of a notable past inhabitant. Historians believe that the name Balzan was either inherited from a family whose surname was Balzano, or else that the word refers to a Sicilian tax collector who resided there during feudal times.
Like the neighbouring villages of Attard and Lija, Balzan used to known for its agricultural land and the citrus gardens that dotted the whole area comprising the Three Villages. In fact, the village motto is: Hortibus undique septa, which means ‘Surrounded by gardens‘.
The village core of Balzan is a typically Maltese one, characterised by winding narrow alleyways, cul-de-sacs, and an impressive collection of townhouses in the historically and culturally rich centre.
The parish church rises proudly out of the centre of the village, with its imposing belfry dominating the square below it. This is the heart of the village where twice a year the inhabitants join together to celebrate the two saints revered by the faithful.
Besides the architectural attractions, in the form of statues and niches, as well as the parish church itself. The social attractions of Balzan is the village feast commemorating the Annunciation of Our Lady, celebrated on the second week of July. The parish also marks the feast of St Valentine with a smaller celebration in honour of the saint.
Its central location makes Balzan a very attractive place to live in, being just minutes away from Mosta, Birkirkara and Valletta, and having good access to the by-pass which leads to Sliema and St Julian’s.
The village is situated just ten minutes’ drive from Mater Dei Hospital and University, and is served by two bus connections, routes 54 and 106, which go to Valletta via Birkirkara and directly to hospital respectively. An express bus route to the airport also passes along the outskirts of the village.
Perhaps the best attraction of Balzan is despite its increased growth in the past few years, the village has lost none of its character and still retains that aura of tranquillity and respectability which makes this locality such an sought after place for young families and mature homeowners alike.