SOLD! Fully Converted Town House RABAT – with Flatlet and Garage
Being marketed through our partners: SanMartin.properties
Townhouse Rabat: What an iconic building – this home is sure to appeal to all lovers of character properties. Located in the heart of Rabat, and meticulously converted and refurbished by the current owners.
Offering a comfortable family home with roof terraces, 4 bedrooms, with master en-suite, a further family bathroom, shower room and guest w.c. Additionally, there is a laundry room at roof level – overlooking the hot tub! A separate flatlet with own bedroom, and wetroom, as well as a newly fitted kitchen. Continuing the accommodation – on the ground floor with its own door is a study or office.
Just when you think you have seen all of this home you discover the basement cellars – the stonework is superb – and with 3 windows to the street level, there is great light here, we would love to explain about the ‘Well’ – but our owner will do that in her own words.
There is a garage – located in Triq Rita that is included in the sale.
The whole house restoration has been a labour of love, so much so that when we asked the owners about their experience; we received a wonderful tribute – seen below.
The house’s history and age are part of its charm. Architectural and expert stonework advice tells us that the façade is between 400-600 years old and ‘parts’ of the building will be much older than this. Some architectural features (window shapes, stone usage in lower levels) indicate much older, even Roman influence. Certainly tops of Roman arches exist below the flagstone flooring of the basement running in a completely opposite direction to that of the current building.
Architects tell us that the ‘flatlet’ was constructed to infill between the main house and the next property as the internal stonework represents ‘outside’ stonework of the other buildings. Again the date of this is not known but must be several hundred years old minimum as the shared well between the two parts of the property is part of a historically unique set of 12 shared wells sponsored by the wealthy Italian widow, Cosmana Navarra, who funded the main church (St Paul’s) in Rabat . This series of wells run from St Paul’s church down to what is now termed the government housing next to the Domus Romana at the bottom of Triq San Pawl. Rabat is one of the few places in Malta to have a spring water table despite being one of the higher places on the island. Having a well rather than merely a water catchment ‘cistern’ is very rare inside a property in Malta.
Until the current owner’s purchase, the house had been in the Psaila family for over 200 years. At some point the original courtyard had been covered over, creating one long room at mid-level, which was considered one bedroom. What is now the kitchen/family area was latterly living room/shower/loo/kitchen and bedroom to the aging disabled mother of the family. The original living room with traditional enclosed balcony was not used as a living space. The ‘bathroom’ was halfway up the traditional stone spiral staircase towards the top of the house.
The building was completely stripped back to bare stone only leaving beautiful traditional Maltese tiles where possible in what is now bedroom 2, the kitchen living area, and what is now the Master Bedroom (originally the unused traditional sitting room with balcony).
The entire property has been re-plumbed and rewired, including a new ‘government connection’ when 3-Phase was installed. The new wireless meter reading system has been installed.
Malta Heritage was delighted when it was decided to open up and restore the original courtyard. The courtyard is somewhat unusual in that it begins at mid level in the property (It gets light and warmth but not the direct hot sun and is an ideal space for breakfast lunch or supper or reading in the long warm months. )
Therefore the long bedroom at ‘sale’ was divided into the restored courtyard, a new family bath/shower/loo and a double bedroom with beautiful pink hued original Maltese tiles. This bedroom ‘could’ be added to extend the kitchen/living/dining space by connecting these rooms (with properly engineered supports).
Traditional flagstones have been relaid in many areas of the property including the whole basement area, the courtyard and courtyard entrance. The courtyard has both surface membrane and proper drainage. Modern tiling has been laid in all the baths/showers, laundry room and the additionally built top double bedroom.
All woodwork in the house is top quality and every door and window frame has been replaced including shutters for all windows. The shutters are an extremely effective blackout.
Drainage from the roof area has been installed to feed into the well in the basement.
The well is a very unusual and historically interesting feature between the main house and the ‘flat’ next door. Now covered in glass with a light feature below and wrought iron Maltese cross detail. Another beautiful feature is the extremely old carved stone table next to the well, which would have originally been used for resting the water bucket. The basement of the main house, with its beautiful stone arches, has a woodburning stove making it a very usable space both cool in summer or warm winter party area. Wrought iron ‘torch’ light fittings add old world charm to this great space. A ‘dumb waiter’ system from the newly refurbished flat renovations will allow cooking in the ground floor flat kitchen to be delivered directly to the basement for entertaining purposes. There is a large wrought iron raised wood storage area below the stair case next to the wood burner. And a feature view hole down to a historic but now unused cave cistern (ochre painted and 2mx4mx5m) cistern below the neighbouring property and sump area below the main house. One of the workmen involved in the restoration of the house was a keen potholer and diver and absailed down into the cistern and brought back photos and measurements and whilst completely dry the cistern’s only content was an original Maltese Kinnie bottle half full of water! Which dates the stoppage of this as a cistern by the next door property to some 50-60 years ago. The flat has an air flow system which runs on a timer, allowing air circulation to keep the property at optimum humidity levels.
Both main house and flat are fitted with air-conditioning units in all rooms except laundry and bathrooms.
All stonework has been restored by a local stone restoration expert, Alex Caruana, who lectures both locally at MCast and internationally on stone restoration. The beautiful carved balustrades of the main staircase were hand finished by some of his ‘students’ when a previous contractor had wrongly used mechanical efforts.
Advice has been taken to leave old limestone uncovered on at least one side in any room as stone must be able to breathe. The top bedroom added to the house is breeze block, with internal plaster to look like stone. Plaster on the lower parts outside of the house is matched by unplastered walls on the internal front rooms, all designed to allow the stone to breathe. Anyone familiar with Maltese houses of character will understand that it is impossible to achieve a dust free environment in a modern building let alone in a beautiful house of character, but the beauty of the stone construction is worth it.
However, the inside of the kitchen/ living area does have a coating on it to eliminate ‘shedding’.
The essential key to maintaining good stone condition is airflow… Excess humidity damages limestone long term so allowing the stone to be exposed and allow natural airflow throughout has been a consideration for us throughout both the restoration and living in the property.
All the wrought ironwork found throughout the property (except for that above the 3 front doors which is original ) has been handcrafted by local blacksmiths,: the ‘chandeliers’ are all unique, designed for the house (Dragon Forge, Ta’ Qali) and all the wrought iron light fittings in the basement and elsewhere come from local craftsmen. Any limestone light fittings have again been locally sourced from Ta’ Qali.
The wrought iron scroll work doors delineating the study area on the ground floor and the large wrought iron internal windows which provide air and light from the kitchen over the main stair well (and in reverse from the sky light at the top of the house) are bespoke. All are creations of Dragon Forge.
The corner piece limestone shelving internal and in the courtyard are from our stonemason, Alex Caruana.
The complicated wrought iron staircase accessing all three levels of the roof was created by Charlie Grech of Zebbiegh who was so proud of his achievement he has actually signed it underneath! It has been galvanized prior to painting.
The hot tub on the roof was ‘gifted’ to the current owners by a wealthy friend leaving the island. However this ‘free’ gift had to be properly installed on a reinforced section of the roof with quality decking and pagoda covering. Quality has been the watchword in all areas of work on this home. As Maltese sun and the wind take its toll on exposed woodwork, quality materials and a dedication to maintenance has been important at every step.
The solar hot water system works well with an effective boost system in place when the house is full to capacity. As with everything annual servicing of both solar system and water pump and air conditioning units is always worthwhile.
The second wood burning stove is located at the mezzanine level, next to the master bedroom, halfway up the wide limestone carved staircase. This is ideal in the two months of winter temperatures. This alone is able to heat the all upper areas of the house. Using the wood burner in the basement will warm the basement and ground floor in addition.
The charm of this property other than its wonderful history and historic location (part of Mdina/Rabat World Heritage site) is in all the nooks and crannies, surprises at every turn, the ‘secret loo’ in the downstairs study, the beautiful carved limestone staircase to the niche understair storage in the Master Bedroom, the intimate courtyard, the unique ‘internal’ bedroom halfway up the garigor (Maltese stone spiral staircase) with bespoke built in but moveable quality bed, and its quirky half wall donated to the neighbouring property, to the fantastic views from the 3 levels of roof terracing. The roof space including two seating areas and hot tub level has been used to entertain up to 50 people for BBQs and catered parties and is ideal for un-overlooked use of the sun loungers.
At the heart of Old Rabat, this home has a unique situation to participate in ‘village’ activities, the opposite corner neighbouring band club and the Patrijiet Frangiskani (Franciscan monastery) and parish church being the hub of village life and yet happily live in privacy of sturdy walls with only one elderly immediate residential neighbour.
The previous long standing band club Master, Anton Muscat Azzopardi, for many years rented what is now the study on the ground floor, which explains the existence of a toilet in the corner of that room (now the hidden loo). The statuary of St Joseph and the baby Jesus, with its traditional pink light, on the outside of the property and the ‘gargoyle’ above the front door and the bas-relief head and shoulders of Jesus on the front wall all add to the charm and history of the property and have all been restored. The Latin inscription under the top statuary has been restored and translated. The large commissioned limestone Octopus in the front hall, at the bottom of the restored limestone staircase, is a creation of the sculptor Mark Verry, who has had connections with Malta since his childhood. Mark Verry has been ‘sculptor in residence’ at Limestone Heritage in Siggiewi, for many periods over the last 6 years when working on both this piece and his previous (lifelong dreamed of ) Madonna and Child, worked from an original 10-tonne limestone block and based on the Neolithic Fat Lady deity which a lost civilization on Malta worshipped at one time. The Madonna and Child can be seen at Limestone Heritage. The Octopus has a secret latin verse hidden under its lower limbs which translate “Visitors are like fish…” (they go off after three days!) a reference to one or two visitors who overstayed their welcome! The inclusion of the Octopus in addition to the sale of the property may be negotiable. The garage which can be included with the sale of the property is approximately 5 minutes walk in a secluded row of garages, and is a full single garage with workshop facilities at one end, ‘loft’ storage and electricity and water, with drainage outside. Currently used to store diving equipment, motorcycle etc.
Living in Rabat is an extremely pleasant experience. While the history attracts many tourists during the day, which supports the many local businesses, the neighbourhood reverts to a traditional Maltese community in the evenings and early mornings, with other Maltese frequenting the myriad of high-quality eateries within boundaries of old Rabat and Mdina. Walks around the gardens and the dry moat under Mdina and being 5 minutes drive from the myriad of levels of Buskett Gardens or 8 minutes from many walks near Dingli cliffs is a great asset for dog owners or general nature lovers.
Some Properties take your breath away – this Townhouse Rabat is certainly one of them.
Being Marketed Exclusively through SanMartin.properties.
Triq Ir-Rebha, Ir-Rabat, Malta