Conserving our legacy
Our country’s extensive history has provided for a large number of buildings and monuments that form a central part of our country’s rich heritage.
Just this week, I had the pleasure to meet a delegation from the Shanghai Parliament, where the Vice Chairperson Fang Huiping, noted and lauded the fact that during her visit here, she could see that through the extensive restoration being done, these areas are being brought back to life.
Recently, we have seen a great number of ambitious projects in the field of restoration.
Our country is full of beautiful palaces and locations. It is our duty and obligation to preserve and conserve such places especially due to their significance in our history.
The agencies which are tasked in one way or another with restoration are various and all have contributed in no small measure to the success we are registering in the field.
The one agency which is the restoration arm per excellence is the Restoration Directorate which, in itself, is a success story. Initiated under a Nationalist administration, we have kept building on the good work which was there already.
A thank you needs also be given to Heritage Malta and GHRC whose contribution has been exceptional to safeguard our patrimony. The works done on St Angelo fort, St Elmo fort and the St Paul Catacombs, no name a few, are world-class.
They ensure that our future generations have a legacy to look up to.
Valletta is increasingly evolving into a cultural hub buzzing with artists and visitors alike, and Valletta2018, has been a catalyst for wonderful economic growth whilst retain its unique character.
Restoration works within the city have contributed to improve the complete product Valletta has to offer and also to deliver a new economic stimulus. This is a clear example how culture is a major economic player.
Recent restoration carried out on the façades of Palazzo Castellania, Palazzo Ferreria, the Church of the Jesuits’, Palazzo Verdelin and St John’s Co-Cathedral has brought back the marvellous architectural features of these buildings.
All of which collectively and individually contribute to the unique character our capital city has. It is our duty to continuously protect and improve this UNESCO recognised world heritage site.
Our country is adorned with a myriad of historic jewels, and these are not only limited to the capital city. Our localities are full of significant historic sites which are now being given the attention they deserve.
A total of 4,500 square meters of bastions found at Crucifix Hill, Floriana, have been restored. Even though nowadays the bastions do not serve their main principal purpose, it is important that they are preserved since they represent our country’s long history. This part of the bastions overlooks the Grand Harbour and the cruise liner terminal and were particularly in a bad shape.
Through a number of initiatives taken by the Restoration Directorate restoration works were also carried out on the Niche of St Michael in Żurrieq, Porto Salvo Chapel in Ħamrun, Mary Magdalene’s Chapel in Ħad Dingli and the Grunenbergh Battery in Senglea to name a few.
To support this effort in favour of restoration, the Ministry for Justice, Culture and Local Government launched the Restoration Works Scheme for Local Councils in 2015. This call is issued on an annual basis through the office of the Restoration Directorate in collaboration with the Department for Local Government. It aims to assist Local Councils in the restoration of buildings and other immovable monuments of historic and/or artistic value located within their delineated boundaries.
A number of projects which fall under this scheme are nearing completion, such as the Hompesch Gate in Ħaż Żabbar, St Anne’s Chapel in Wied il-Għajn, and the Prince of Wales Bridge in Sliema.
Five further projects have been announced under the 2017 call, namely the façade of the Chapel dedicated to the beheading of St. John (Is-Siġġiewi), St. John the Baptist Chapel and adjoning sacristy ( Ħal Għargħur ), the niche dedicated to our Lady of Mount Carmel (Raħal Ġdid), Il-Ħajt tal-Matla (L-Imqabba), the facade of the Parish Centre (Ħal Safi) and the San Pawl tal-Ħġejjeġ Chapel (San Pawl il-Baħar).
Not to mention the beautiful work which was undertaken on the Southern facade of the Żejtun Parish Church. There we had a situation where the scaffolding which was put up by the Church stayed there for some nine long years due to lack of funds.
Following an excellent collaboration with the Church we stepped in and with direct investment from public funds we made this much needed restoration through the Restoration Directorate.
Culture and heritage nurture our national identity as Maltese, and as a Government we are committed to preserve and safeguard elements which contribute towards their strengthening. Restoration is a very tangible aspect of this commitment and we strive to continue on this path to give future generations the country they deserve.