[WATCH] Mdina bastions restoration works completed

Final phase of the Mdina restoration project costing some €530,000 and covering 9,600m2 of fortifications, has been completed.

Restoration works completed
Restoration works completed
Mdina Bastions

The Restoration Directorate within the Culture ministry has said that the last phase of restoration works in Mdina have been completed. The last phase included the areas of St.Mary’s bastion and its adjoining medieval ramparts, as well as St. Peter’s Bastions and Greeks Gate.

The project covered area of approximately 9,600m2 of built up fortifications and cost of approximately €530,000, Culture minister Owen Bonnici said during a press conference to inaugurate the end of the project earlier today.

Bonnici said that in 2007, the directorate had managed to set aside a substantial amount of money for the restoration and consolidation of fortifications including Cittadella, Birgu, Valletta and Mdina, with fortifications of Mdina mostly centred around geotechnical issues related to landslides and consequently with the restoration of the overlying ramparts in areas like the Vilhena Palace Area, the Despuig Bastion, and the Magazine Curtain.

“Although these works were completed in late 2013, the directorate was asked to conduct more restoration on St. Peter Bastion and Greeks Gate as well as the old medieval enceinte on the northern part of the city, starting from St. Mary Bastion and terminating at Despuig Bastion on the eastern side of the perimeter,” he said.

St. Mary’s Bastion (or Ta’ Bachar, as it was also known) is a small bulwark dating to the early period of the Knights’ re-fortification of the old city, and most of the medieval enceinte consists of a flankless trace of vertical walls, except for one location, which was reinforced by a wall-tower, that now serves as a popular scenic viewing point for visitors to Mdina.

“In parallel, and mainly as a consequence of this restoration and consolidation work, an initiative was put forward to rehabilitate the ditch and restore the fortifications which embrace it using local funds,” Bonnici said adding that this was also completed in 2013.

“Works carried out on the Mdina bastions have cost some €9 million so far,” he added.

During a site visit last August, head of the restoration directorate Norbert Gatt had explained that the project was the last link in a chain of bastion restoration works around the island, costing some €32 million and partially funded by the EU.

The architect in charge, Chanelle Busuttil had also said that the area that needed the most work in Mdina, was Greek's Gate.

"Most of the work consists of the cleaning off of cement and lime layers, however we had to replace some of the stonework detailing at Greek's Gate for instance," she added, explaining that some of the intricate stonework had deteriorated over the years.

Mdina is the oldest fortified settlement in the Maltese islands. Its walls had already been standing for many centuries when the knights of St. John arrived in Malta in 1530.

The historic fortifications of Mdina constitute one of the main pillars of Malta's built-up physical heritage assets. As an architectural monument, its fortifications document both important stages in the island's history and also the development of military architecture throughout the middle ages and early modern period. The city’s fortifications also form an integral and visual part of the island’s cultural landscape, with the larger part of Mdina’s fortifications playing an important role in tourism.