Across the threshold to fairyland

I have always had a thing for abandoned places. The older and the more reputedly haunted, the better. Mystic, an old 60s nightclub in Pembroke, falls under this category. It is definitely old, definitely abandoned and definitely weird and whimsical enough to capture my imagination. All it’s lacking to make it perfect is a good ghost story, but as far as I know the spirit of the Marquis Joseph Scicluna, who was the former owner of the place, rests peacefully and wants no truck with hauntings.

A quick leg up and over the wall we fall...

Mystic was practically the only decent club in Malta in the 60s (I stand to be corrected though) and is just the sort of place that really should sport a ghost or two. Ever since some years ago  I, erm, found my way inside, I have wanted to go back to explore it in full. The last time round I was interrupted by the arrival of a police car summoned by a neighbour who thought we were up to no good. Like all abandoned places the site does tend to see a good share of shady activity, I suppose.

First glimpse into the lower garden

Since then I have been planning to go back but it was only very recently, after a couple of failed attempts, that I managed. The place can be accessed by dint of some basic climbing, sliding and stumbling, which process only took me about ten minutes. I suppose strictly speaking the public isn’t exactly welcome inside but hell, it’s not like I was planning to sacrifice any goats or anything silly like that. I was there purely as a tourist so I didn’t let the old conscience bother me over much.

The lower balcony

The fascination of the place lies mainly in the weird and wonderful architecture. I suppose saying that it reminds me of Gaudi is a bit of a stretch but it does have a most fairyland like air to it.  I spotted the remains of the main tower while still at the bottom of the hill. This is the point where I started getting super-excited and where my partner in crime gave me a look that plainly said I wasn’t doing my street cred any favours.

The guitar-shaped table on the second floor.

Donning my Fonzie cool look I parked, made sure the road was neighbour-free and hopped over the wall into the adjacent valley. I met hurdle number one as soon as I saw that the inlet leading to the basement had been cemented almost to the top. Oh noeees. Luckily, a leg-up from partner-in crime-sorted it out, though I did tumble face-first to the other side. The ‘other side’ presented hurdle number two: the passage from the basement to the club’s garden – which is the only access point to the rest of the building – was also cemented off. There are two options left to make your way in: the first involves swinging a leg back onto the slope leading to the valley and swinging back in on the other side, Tarzan style. I’m no Tarzan and quite frankly my jeans were a tad too tight for that.

Doesn't this remind you of Gaudi?

Option 2 involves squeezing into the garden through an itsybitsy hole in the wall. Luckily I’m quite small and managed to go through with only a couple of cobwebs brushing against my cheeks. Once I was actually inside, I was uber relieved to see that everything was exactly in the same shape as I had left it years back, with only the addition of some new graffiti. The pretty glass designs are still embedded in the floor, the walls still have rows upon rows of bottles embedded in them, the guitar shaped table remains whole and the Maltese cross still adorns most rooms.

The main, indoor bar area with the trademark spiral staircase

My favourite part is probably the garden bar, with the owls and peacocks made of glass that decorate the walls. And the creepy face etched in the walls of the main tower, which is the only part of the building that I didn’t manage to get into. The terrace near the indoor bar area is pretty spectacular too. I could so see myself glass of wine in hand, music pumping from inside, just enjoying the view that stretches beyond Portomaso tower.

The Marquis had a thing for glass...

The Marquis’ former living quarters are actually pretty creepy. The jacuzzi, the geyser, the kitchenette, the bed with springs mostly intact… It almost feels like he just stopped whatever he was doing and upped and left. It must have been pretty cool to live there while the club was still in operation, surveying his small empire from the private terrace while people in the garden below partied away. Noisy, but cool.

That must have been a bit of pain to build...

The grounds, which are pretty sprawling, took over an hour to explore (with lots of photo-stops, of course). The vibe is peaceful and you almost forget the outside world, though I am pretty sure peaceful is transformed into spooky at nightfall. I almost didn’t want to leave but we had no  torches with us and I really didn’t fancy trekking back in the dark.
I left hoping that nothing happens to ruin this magical building. Enjoy the rest of the pix…

This face rather creeped me out. I couldn't get a good angle to include the mouth - which is made of coloured glass - as well... This design is found on the wall of the main tower adjacent to the road, which is the only part that cannot be accessed.

The Maltese 'skrun'

The original facade of the club, as seen from the road

Portomaso Tower can be seen in the distance

The animal designs, made out of glass, are everywhere around the building

The spiral staircase that leads to the sky

Pretties!

Shame the place isn't better taken care of...

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Comments

  1. tita buds says:

    What a weird, interesting place! Was that built for the club or is that an old, old building that was converted into a club in the 60s?

    • I believe the Marquis built it in the early 60s to serve as his residence but then immediately decided to use most of it as a club, with only one small section kept private for him. I have tried to find out more about the place so many times… unbelievably, there’s nothing online! Upon his death the building was given in trust to the University of Malta, which pretty much…left it to rot! If any Maltese are reading this and have a more accurate version than mine, would love to hear it!

  2. l0ve0utl0ud says:

    What a beautiful and interesting place. Great photos. Thank you for sharing!

    • I’m really glad you liked the pix :) Small update – the place is in a town called Madliena in Malta and not in Pembroke as I previously wrote… Pembroke is the adjacent area :) Not that this will mean anything to most of you reading this hehehehe!

  3. Wow that place is a gem! And you’re right, it does have touches of Gaudi. The lower garden area must have been beautiful back in the day.

  4. Nathalie says:

    First off, I love you blog :) keep doing what you’re doing and let us enjoy it!
    There was another club in the 60′s though that was extremely popular. Forgot the name, but it was in the Wardija/Mgarr area. They tore it down a few yeas ago but I remember going there and amazing myself with the decor they had!

  5. Nathalie says:

    Oh, oh just remembered – Thursdays Disco was the name and later on it became Studs..

    • Aaaah shame they tore it down. I’m dying to discover another abandoned building, but there don’t seem to be too many exciting and accessible ones here hehe. Thanks for your comments, it made my day! The blog is very new so I’m still trying to get people to know about it. If you ever feel like sharing the link with your friends or on Facebook it’d be great :) There’s also tons of room for improvement, so suggestions are very welcome…

  6. Nathalie says:

    Will share for sure!

    And the west side of the island is rife with abandoned buildings. It’s a hobby of mine too, though I had to stop lately. The excuse ”I lost my ball, I think it went over the wall” doesn’t work when I’m 23!

  7. Paula Azzopardi says:

    My husband built the tower for the Marquis. He and Joe were good friends. He has some great stories about the building and the parties the Marquis had there. He has told me about the tower for years, and I finally found your pics online! We live in the U.S. so this is my only way to see it.
    My husband has built some pretty crazy stuff here, too! His name is Charlie Azzopardi. You can get in touch with him for more fascinating stories. Sounds like they really knew how to party back then!

    • Hey Paula I’m really happy to have heard from you! I have been trying to find out who built it for ages but no-one seemed to know anything. That’s because you all went off to the States I guess :) If you don’t mind, I’ll definitely be in touch via email cos I’d love to get the whole story!!

    • Dirk Al says:

      Interesting. I’ve been studying Mystique and Mystic for years, and visited several times. I have not been there now for several years and so I was very happy to find these recent pictures here. I am especially interested in the meaning of the symbols used in Mystique (The Eagle, the Dove and Snake, Stars on the roof, etc.). The whole building tells a story. Would be very happy to get in touch to exchange information and learn more from the last Marquis Scicluna. Greetings, Dirk Al

  8. Stephen Borg Fiteni says:

    There’s another way to get in which is too hard to explain. Any background on the history of Mystic would be of great interest :)

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