Originally built as the Keepers’ House, it has been transformed into a unique place to stay, and is run by Din l-Art Helwa.
If you’re travelling to Malta but don’t fancy staying somewhere run-of-the-mill, you may be enticed by something completely different: a historic lighthouse located along the beautiful Delimara coast. And yes, before you ask, it is an actual lighthouse – the only one anywhere in Malta, in fact. Oh, and the views are spectacular!
“This lighthouse was built during the British period,” explains Maria Grazia Cassar from Din l-Art Helwa – the voluntary organisation that guards the property. “The only other lighthouse on the islands is in Gozo – the Ta’ Giordan.”
Maria Grazia says turning the lighthouse into accommodation was a natural choice for Din l-Art Helwa. “It was originally built as the two lighthouse keepers’ homes and, when we took on the restoration, we thought it would be nice to turn it into a place to stay so that people could still enjoy its heritage.”
Perfect for friends or families, the lighthouse is composed of two units that can be rented separately or together. Apartment B is larger than Apartment A, with a bigger kitchen and an extra single bedroom with a shower downstairs. Both sleep a maximum of five people, with two in a sofa bed.
“We even kept the original colour scheme,” Maria Grazia continues. “It is bright and simple throughout, with plenty of white to echo the period. There is a large, comfortable bed in each unit, as well as a spare toilet. The original stone kitchen has been retained, but modern appliances have been added to make it more comfortable and practical.”
Looking back on the history of the lighthouse, Maria Grazia explains that it was commissioned by Governor Richard More O’Ferrall in 1850. He was governor of Malta between 1847 and 1851 and he granted a partly-elected Council of Government in 1849. He encouraged trade and helped the mercantile community to form the Chamber of Commerce.
“It is thought that the name Delimara could be attributed to a corruption of the Arabic term dejr l-imnara, meaning the house of the lantern. The lighthouse stands at a height of 24 metres, dominating the cliff over Marsaxlokk Bay, and was an important reference for ships coming from Barbary and Egypt. With the construction of the Suez Canal that stimulated maritime traffic between Asia and Europe, increased numbers of naval vessels had to be guided safely to Valletta’s harbours. The signalling system for each lighthouse was designed so each could be recognised by its own individual series of flashes. Those of Delimara were alternate red and white with a radius of visibility that spread out up to 15 miles. Erected for the security of Her Majesty’s navy and commercial shipping, both lighthouses – together with other beacons along the coast of the Maltese islands – secured the commercial treaties that Britain had established with France and China in 1860, Belgium in 1862 and Italy in 1863.”
Today, the lighthouse may have a slightly less central role in the running of Malta, but it is no less important, and the Din l-Art Helwa team loves the thought of visitors enjoying this slightly alternative place to stay – and its history.
Beyond that, it also gives people the chance to get to know an often-overlooked part of the island. “There’s lots to do in the area,” Maria Grazia continues. “In winter and spring, the beauty is in its remoteness and the possibility of taking long walks along the open natural areas surrounding the lighthouse. Then, in summer, you can explore the nearby rocky bays and creeks for a swim.
“The characteristic fishing village of Marsaxlokk is also only 10 minutes away by car, and is full of excellent restaurants and eateries. If guests prefer, though, they can always just make the most of the outdoor space outside the lighthouse – for a relaxed evening of talking and drinking wine. The lights from the ships coming in to port are always interesting to watch, too!”
For more information, or to book your stay in this truly unusual type of accommodation in Malta, email [email protected]