Our country is is bestowed with a millenial history, the fruit of years of colonialisation by different nations, empires and orders, from the Romans to the Greeks, the French and the English, as well as the Order of St John.
A colonial history which, without going on the merits of its benefits or otherwise, has left us with a rich cultural heritage with tangible economic benefits. This heritage can be seen wherever we look, in our buildings, art, culture. All this not only makes us proud of who we are but, in normal circumstances, also leads millions of tourists to visit us and provide jobs for thousands of Maltese and Gozitan families.
Our history is renowned worldwide. Our capital, Valletta, and its predecessor, Mdina, have been recognised by UNESCO and are key attractions for those who choose to visit us. The fortifications particularly reflect Maltese identity but their positioning close to the sea and the fact that hundreds of years since their construction have passed, they required significant rehabilitation to be restored to their former glory.
As our country developed through the years, successive Governments prioritised investment in schools, health and road infrastructure. This meant that historical sites were left to deteriorate for a long time. It is precisely for this reason that we can witness the difference that EU funds have brought in the way we look for and protect our history.
A project of this magnitude would not have been possible without a significant investment through EU Cohesion funding, exceeding 40 million euro, that were used not only for carrying out the project but also to seek knowledge in the field. This included the restoration of the fortifications of Valletta, Birgu, Cottonera and Citadella, Gozo’s medieval city.
This ongoing project concentrated on the rehabilitation of the fortifications of Valletta, Birgu in Cottonera – sitting in the majestic Grand Harbour – and the all-round bastions which surround the walled cities of Mdina and the Cittaddella – Gozo’s old medieval city.
This was not a case of just a general clean up. This project included the scraping of kilometres of bastions, many meters wide and tall, the removal of years of uncontrolled vegetation which crept through their thick old walls and the changing of long stretches of stonework, which in some areas, had led to serious collapses, putting in danger the stability of the same fortifications.
In the case of Mdina, where the walls were built on unstable terrain, mostly clay, a specialised operation was needed to strengthen the soundness of the same bastions which was even creating a possible total collapse of the historic palazzos built on top.
In this case, specialised engineered interventions, with the use of modern technology, had to be made to build new piles under the same bastions, strengthening the ground on which the bastions stood.
The project also included transforming parts of the same fortifications to ensure a more functional use, by turning them into a new tourism product in themselves.
Through EU funds, Malta’s history has started shining once again giving it a new lease of life while tourism flourished.
This article is part of the OurEU.mt campaign, which is being managed by CiConsulta’s ComuniqEU, with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of CiConsulta and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.