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From The Malta Independent,  19 December 2013

Presentation of Christmas in Valletta activities

José Herrera, Parliamentary Secretary for Culture and the Local Government yesterday evening unveiled a series of activities in Valletta for the Christmas festivities. “It’s Christmas in Valletta” activities have been planned to target every person and family choosing Valletta to shop, eat, drink and entertain.

Parliamentary Secretary Herrera stated that these activities are the fruit of collaboration between the Parliamentary Secretariat and the Valletta Local Council, the Valletta 2018 Foundation, the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts, the Valletta Business Community, and Pjazza Teatru Rjal. Dr. Herrera said that Valletta offers the ideal backdrop for the Christmas festivities as it can offer a complete experience. He stated that these activities also form part of the run-up to Valletta 2018...more

From The Malta Independent,  15 December 2013

Mattia Preti painting from Valletta church to prestigious Rome exhibition

A recently restored Mattia Preti painting from the Franciscan church in Valletta has been given pride of place at a prestigious exhibition at the Accademia Nazionale di San Luca in Rome to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Calabrian artist’s birth.

The exhibition, which has been organised by the Accademiaitself, is sponsored by the Maltese Embassy in Rome, the Italian Foreign Ministry and the Calabria region...more

From The Malta Independent, 4 December 2013

Valletta students get their tablets... from Claudio Grech 

Primary schoolchildren at St. Elmo’s school in Valletta will soon be benefitting from the use of tablets in school, PN MP Claudio Grech said today during a press conference. 

The Save a Life Foundation, run by Dr Grech, is funding the conversion of a room at the school into a virtual classroom. 

He said the aim is to put the fun factor back into education through the use of technology...more

From The Malta Independent, 1 December 2013

Old Valletta Market, Strait Street main areas of focus for V18

V18 is not all about mass events, but is also focusing on important infrastructural and cultural projects that will benefit Malta’s capital city for decades to come, V18 chairman Jason Micallef tells our sister daily newspaper in an interview that will be published tomorrow.

In the interview, Mr Micallef talks about the Foundation’s plans to transform the Old Valletta Market into a commercial outlet that will focus on providing space for emerging artists and bringing the 1950s and 60s atmosphere back to Strait Street. He also says that one of the foremost priorities is to raise public awareness about the Foundation...more

From The Malta Independent, 30 November 2013

Nationalist MP questions dome CCTV cameras in Valletta

Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi is questioning the installation of two dome CCTV cameras in St George’s Square in Valletta, saying that it is clear that the government is acting like “big brother”.

Writing on Facebook, Dr Azzopardi said that “the government wants to know your movements”, adding that it is clear that the intention is to see the faces of those who are protesting...more

From The Malta Independent, 28 November 2013

Free access to Valletta in afternoon and during weekends as of Monday

As announced in the 2014 Budget speech, the Government, through Transport Malta, is implementing the first measure to encourage more people to visit Valletta in the afternoons on weekdays, and all day during the weekend.

As of 2 December 2013, no CVA charges will apply for vehicles accessing the charging zone after 1400hrs on weekdays and all day on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays. It is to be noted, however, that those accessing the charging zone in the morning or before 1400hrs on weekdays and staying more than 30 minutes will continue to pay the same charges as today...more

From The Malta Independent, 26 November 2013

Feeling good in Valletta

A typically placid morning at Republic Street in Valletta became a swirl of song and dance in a flash mob.  Shoppers, tourists and other onlookers were given a very special, all-singing, all-dancing welcome as more than 22 dancers began to rise and sway to the sound of past Malta Eurovision entries...more

From The Malta Independent, 9 November 2013

Environment groups plan protest in Valletta

Nine environment groups said this morning they will be holding a protest march to raise awareness on the “tragic” state of the planning authority.

The NGOs called on the public to join in a manifestation calling for a change in government attitude that puts developers' interests before residents rights. 

In a press conference, Din L-Art Ħelwa president Simone Mizzi said the authority is playing to the interests of property developers and speculators...more

From The Malta Independent, 16 October 2013

White Cane Day celebrated in Valletta

The Malta Guide Dogs Foundation and the Malta Society for the Blind collaborated to jointly celebrate White Cane Day in Valletta yesterday.

Members of the MSB, officials and supporters of the MGDF and their helpers met at City Gate and walked down Republic Street to St George’s Square...more

From The Malta Independent, 1 October 2013

1,255 reserved parking bays in Valletta

A total of 1,255 parking bays in Valletta are reserved, mainly for the city’s residents, Transport Minister Joe Mizzi revealed in parliament.

In a reply to a parliamentary question by district MP Claudio Grech, Mr Mizzi noted that 32 parking bays were reserved for official government cars, including 2 outside of the city’s Controlled Vehicular Access area, while a further 121 were reserved for ministries, including 84 non-CVA parking bays...more

From The Malta Independent,  17 September 2013

Valletta prepares to welcome Science in the City

Preparations are in full swing for the annual Science in the City event being held on Friday 27 September.  The science and art festival gives everyone a chance to enjoy science by showing how science is fun and relevant to our everyday lives.

From 6pm onwards, a number of young scientists, researchers and artists will be welcoming the public to a festive evening that will include music, demonstrations, debates, scientific cafes, hands-on experiments, street art, exhibitions, films, children’s shows and many interactive activities...more

From The Malta Independent, 8 September 2013

Valletta mayor attends WTCF conference in Beijing

The mayor of Valletta, Alexiei Dingli, attended the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) conference in Beijing, China on 12 September.

The World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) is a non-profit, non-governmental international mass organisation created by tourist cities of all countries and regions and enterprises related to tourism...more

From The Malta Independent,  8 September 2013

Leeuwarden to be Valetta's co-European Capital of Culture for 2018

The independent selection panel responsible for assessing the Dutch cities competing for the title of the European Capital of Culture in 2018 met in Amsterdam this week and recommended that Leeuwarden be selected. The other two cities in contention were Eindhoven and Maastricht.

The formal nomination of Leeuwarden by the EU's Council of Ministers will take place in May 2014. Valletta has already been selected as the other European Capital of Culture in 2018....more

From The Malta Independent, 7th September 2013

Valletta 2018 sets up Valletta Forum

The Valletta 2018 Foundation has set up the Valletta Forum, a consultative board which will bring together different bodies from the capital, coming from different sectors, to advise Valletta 2018 Foundation about subjects relating directly to Valletta and its inhabitants.

Foundation chairman Jason Micallef told a reception for associations from Valetta, held at the Upper Barrakka gardens, that the Europeal Capital of Culture cannot be successful if there is no contribution by many, especially those who love Valletta....more

From The Malta Independent, 25 August 2013

The story of the Valletta blockade, by someone who was trapped inside

It seems strange, but two diaries relating to the invasion of Malta by Napoleon’s troops and the subsequent two years of the blockade of Valletta lay in the National Library of Malta for all those years but were never, until recently, been translated.

One of these diaries was translated and published two years ago. The other will be published in the coming weeks.

Both have been translated by Joseph Scicluna who has recently written and published a story, Ricasoli Soldier, relating to roughly the same time....more

From The Malta Independent, 13 August 2013

Valletta LC ‘seriously worried’ about removal of residents’ parking scheme

The Valletta Local Council is “seriously worried” about the potential removal of the localities residents’ parking scheme.

In a statement, the Council made reference to transport minister Joe Mizzi’s comment about removing residents’ parking schemes in a number of localities, including Valletta.

“This goes against the positive talks that the Council has with Mr Mizzi on 30 May and with top officials at Transport Malta on 24 July, where the problems relating to transport and parking in Valletta were discussed,” the Council today said....more


From Times of Malta, June 30, 2013

De Valette helmet found in Italian museum collection


When lawyer and historian Robert Attard switched on his laptop last week to research helmets worn by the Knights of Malta, little did he know that he would make the discovery of a lifetime: locating the helmet that formed part of the battle armour of Jean Parisot de Valette.


The helmet, known as a Comb Morion, is part of a collection housed in the Museo Nazionale del Palazzo di Venezia, in Rome, where its true identity went unnoticed by the Italians.


Malta is richer than it was before



From Times of Malta June 28, 2013

Open air theatre to be handed over to Government within two months


The open air theatre built out of the Royal Opera House will be handed over from the Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation to the government within two months, according to Culture Parliamentary Secretary Jose Herrera.

The theatre, which forms part of the City Gate project, will be named Pjazza Teatru Rjal to keep the historical element of the area.


The controversial open theatre will start being used on Sunday - the opening night of the eighth edition of the Malta Arts Festival. Itand will feature a show by world famous dance company Puerto Flamenco. Another three shows, one by a foreign dance group, will be held in the open theatre.


The area can seat 900 people and up to 1,500 standing.


Tickets for the events are available online or from the Embassy Cinema ticket office in Valletta between 10am and 9pm daily or at the door before a performance. Doors open 30 minutes before the event.



From Times of Malta June 26, 2013

Valletta access scheme is to be reformed – PM

Park and ride system to be reviewed

The payment system for cars to enter Valletta would be reformed and the Government was considering reverting to the old annual V licence to drive into the capital, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said.


The Whistleblower’s Act will come into force by the end of July when Parliament rises for its summer recess


The Government was also looking into other options including retaining the controlled vehicles access system but extending the times when motorists can enter the city for free to include early afternoon and Saturdays. At the moment, access to Valletta is free after 6pm, on Saturday afternoon and on Sundays and public holidays.



From Times of Malta, 25 June 2013

Updated - Valletta CVA system to be reviewed or scrapped


The government will review or scrap the CVA parking system in Valletta by the next Budget, the prime minister said at a public consultation meeting this evening.


He said the system needed to be changed or scrapped because of the negative impact it was having on the Valletta business community.


Rejuvenating the capital city

from The Times of May 30 2013

Recently the EU Council of Ministers declared Valletta the European Capital of Culture for the year 2018. The decision brought to a positive conclusion the hard work of a year and a half carried out by the Valletta 2018 Foundation.

Let’s make V18 one event truly worth remembering – that of rejuvenating the city of Valletta

Undoubtedly, such a declaration entails a copious amount of work which needs to be carried out until that year comes about. Inthe meantime, Valletta will be celebrating its 450th anniversary. Also, the Dominican Order, which boasts of being endowed with the first parish in the capital city, will be celebrating the eighth centenary from the establishment of Black Friars in 1216 – not to mention that in 2016 the Basilica of Safe Havens and St Dominic will be celebrating the 200th anniversary from its institution.


Moving monti is a ‘threat’ to city’s image

from The Times of 28 May 2013

Valletta’s image is under “serious threat” from the relocation of the monti to a site near the capital’s entrance, according to mayor Alexiei Dingli.

Dr Dingli told Times of Malta that he learnt of the plan from open-market hawkers themselves, who told him “a few weeks ago” that it was an electoral promise.

Mayor was told a few weeks ago it was an electoral promise

Monti stalls ‘must change’

How does Valletta’s market compare with other cities?


Valletta 'Monti': Government to help hawkers replace their stalls

from Tiimes of Malta May 28, 2013

The government will be assisting Valletta Monti market hawkers to replace their stalls, using national and EU funds, Economic Affairs Minister Chris Cardona said today.

He confirmed on TVAM that both the daily as well as the Sunday markets will be moving to Ordinance Street in Valletta. He said there was enough space for all 75 licence holders of the daily market, who currently set up their stalls in Merchants’ Street and around part of the Palace.

However, with more than 200 permit holders for the Sunday market, the Ordinance Street market will spill-over ‘to another street’ which Dr Cardona did not specify. There is no space for hawkers working out of their vans. Another place is being sought for them. The Sunday market is currently set up at Horn Works Ditch outside Floriana.



Parking issues in Valletta

from The Times of 28 May 2013

Recently some parking spaces in Melita Street, Valletta (Marsamxett side) were allocated for residents. I would like to express my gratitude to whoever was responsible for this long delayed decision, reversing a decision taken some years ago to remove most of the parking slots in this part of Valletta.

I had on various occasions communicated with the local and central government authorities on this matter but to no avail.



Valletta places seventh in top European destinations

from The Times, 30 March


Valletta has been voted as one of the top 10 European destinations by travellers who participated in an online competition organised by a Brussels-based consumers’ organisation.  Malta’s capital ranked seventh and, by placing in the top 10, won the right to be promoted by the European Consumers Choice, a voluntary organisation that works to give consumers a voice and reward companies.   The top 10 also win the right to use websites and official documents bearing the European Best Destinations 2013 logo.


“Valletta is the paradise! Nice weather, a country with a lot of history, the people are friendly, beautiful sceneries surrounded by a wonderful sea,” one tourist wrote.   Another wrote: “History, harbour and hidden treasures, all in one.”

Twenty countries participated in the competition.  The winner was Istanbul, Turkey, that got 12.4 per cent of votes. It was followed by Lisbon, in Portugal (12.2 per cent), Vienna, in Austria (9.5 per cent), Barcelona, in Spain (8.3 per cent), Amsterdam, in the Netherlands (7.2 per cent), Madrid, in Spain (6.5 per cent), Valletta (6.3 per cent), Nice, in France (6.2 per cent), Milan, in Italy (5.9 per cent) and Stockholm, in Sweden (5.3 per cent).


This is great news.  Even if it may seem to be a trivial matter, positive coverage by a leading European consumers organisation is useful. 


I recently interviewed tourists for my doctorate research and I can confirm that Valletta does provide a most enjoyable experience.  One of the questions I asked was to mention something negative about Valletta.  Most of them struggled to mention anything.   This is not to say that there is nothing that needs to be improved.  Far from it.  Valletta, however, does have many requisites to offer an exceptional experience to visitors.

                                       (comment by John Ebejer for VAF)

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A day out by any other route



An excellent article by Mark Anthony Falzon.  It gives a flavour of what experiencing a city like Valletta is all about.  It merits being reproduced here in its entirety. 


Thanks to the Valletta-Cottonera ferry service and the Baracca lift, Valletta now offers  yet another experience for Maltese and tourists to enjoy. 


“Fifteen minutes is how long it took me to get from my doorstep in Cospicua to Barrakka Gardens in Valletta the other day. It took me considerably longer to get my head round the thought that I hadn’t forgotten my car keys at home, that I wouldn’t be needing them at all for that matter.


The new sea connection between Cottonera and Valletta is one of those things that remind one that innovation and ‘development’ do not necessarily require grandiose projects. In this case I’m not sure even ‘innovation’ is in order. It’s simply a resuscitated connection and one that has been long, possibly too long, in the making.


Nor do I think the sea connection will do very much to ease the perennial headache of traffic jams to, and parking in Valletta. Most of us will still opt to use our cars and that’s not least because car use is now too embedded in practices like convenience shopping to cede territory just like that.


Still, it’s magic. The trick is to suspend all boring arguments from traffic management and weather conditions and boat legroom and such, and take it in as the unique experience that it is. Many were doing just that last Saturday and, hand on heart, it’s a while since I’ve seen people enjoying their city so much.


And that’s the big thing really. A city should properly serve up as many different species of experience as possible. The challenge for Valletta 2018 is that the city enhances known faces and present new ones in stimulating and playful ways. The sea connection is a tremendous point of departure in that direction.


I’m currently reading Edward Said’s excellent Subterranean Valletta (Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti, 2012). Said tells how in 1642 Grandmaster Lascaris had a tunnel cut through the rock and a road extended down at the Victoria Gate (at the time Porta del Monte) area. He also had warehouses and a wharf built and an exquisite garden laid out which came to be known (aptly) as Ġnien is-Sultan.


These and later initiatives turned the waterfront and its neighbouring streets into a hive of commercial activity. It was the point at which the sea and its various inhabitants (sailors, bumboatmen, and such) came in contact with the city.


This really was by far the most colourful entrance to Valletta. As lovers of Ellis’s photographs will know, the romance only ended in the mid-20th century. The dockyard’s large workforce and the population density around the harbour meant that the sea connection between Cottonera and Valletta lingered on for another 20 years or so.


I grew up in Valletta in the 1980s. By that time the maritime link had been relegated to a staple of tourist itineraries. Il-lanċa was a receding memory and the derelict and rusting Barrakka lift was primarily associated in our minds with a convenient drop should life get too rocky.


From a link, the sea became an obstacle. The only way to enter Valletta was through Putirjal (City Gate). Compared to that of our grandparents, our city was decidedly monologous and impoverished.


Which is why my morning outing turned out so rewarding, in at least three ways. First, the sea crossing itself. I happened to share a boat with people who remem­bered the lanċa of their childhood and spent the entire seven minutes reminiscing about the harbour as they knew it, crowded with British navy ships and dgħajjes tal-pass (local boats) and criss-crossing routes and routines.


There is something special about approaching Valletta by boat. One really feels the tension between the need to fortify and protect from sea attacks, and that to enable easy access to the sea and its commercial opportunity. Like a ship, Valletta simultaneously embraces and negates the sea. Perhaps most tellingly, one experiences the harbour area as one integral social and urban unit made diverse by complex walls and linguistic and territorial distinctions.


The trip ends at Lascaris Wharf. Or it doesn’t really because the next leg is equally strong in character. The new lift manages to look restrained and elegant while retaining the industrial aura of its predecessor. The few seconds it takes to breach the walls have all the qualities of a ritual siege. Indeed the lift itself looks somewhat like a siege tower from across the water.


This was Valletta like I had never experienced it before. Readers will pardon my florid enthusiasm but even the requisite espresso at Ellul’s on Strada Santa Luċia tasted better. I just wanted to walk and breathe the city. My defence is that I wasn’t alone. There were crowds of people at the lift and the mood was that in which conversations with strangers are quite alright.


The whole thing was very nearly marred by the monstrous new monument to de/la Valette. A piece of unbearable and worthless kitsch that looks like something the festa armar people left behind, this is just the type of temptation we need to resist, one that pushes us in the direction of a facile rhetoric that makes no attempt whatsoever to engage with the contemporary.


But no matter, Renzo Piano’s work in progress (our best ever spent tax money in my opinion) and the newly-restored church of Santa Caterina d’Italia were at hand. Again I saw people just drifting in and out of the sites as if they were tourists in their own land.


There is a certain implicit optimism about urban interventions of this kind. I don’t just mean political optimism – although truth be told, urban projects and politics are rarely divorced for long. Rather, it’s a way of living and engaging with one’s lived space.


Saturday morning was an eye-opener for me. I realised I had been starved of urbanity in its creative and explorative senses.


Valletta was no longer my city as Żebbuġ is to the Żebbuġin, that is, as a site of local attachment. It was my city as a Maltese person and, dare I say it, as a human being.”


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Barrakka lift opened



The long-needed lift connecting the Upper Barrakka, at the top of Valletta, to Lascaris Ditch at the bottom was opened yesterday evening.   The €2.5m project was implemented by the Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation.   The lift is 58 metres high and can carry 800 people an hour, with each of its two cabins having a capacity of 21 passengers.  

VAF comment:  This is more good news for Valletta.   The various projects that have been implemented over the past few years


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Ferry service links Valletta to Grand Harbour

from, 14 December


The ferry service from Marsamxett harbour has been extended to the Grand Harbour linking the Three Cities to Valletta, Transport Malta said.  The new service, which started today, coincides with the commissioning of the Lift at Barrakka. Ferry users shall be entitled to a free use of the lift on the same day as from Sunday.


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Valletta, Floriana join forces to organise NYE celebrations

from, 7 December


The Valletta and Floriana councils have joined forces to organise this year's outdoor New Year’s Eve celebrations.  The events will be held throughout most of Valletta and Floriana. St George's Square will host the main stage and will see the very best of Malta’s top local talent.


VAF comments:  Well done to both local councils.  Each year NYE celebrations get better and better.


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The capital of spectral culture



In this interesting opinion piece, Mark Anthony Falzon contemplates urbanity with particular reference to Valletta.   “Thanks to the impeccable standards and hard work of the bid team, Valletta 2018 is now a reality. Question is, what do we want our capital to look like when the big year comes? A city that was born or one that died, in 1565?”


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Valletta is to glitter with stars tonight

from ,


Stars from cinema’s elite are gathering in Malta to take part in tonight’s prestigious European Film Awards.   Academy Award winner Helen Mirren, best known for her role in Stephen Frears’ The Queen and most recently in Hitchcock, will be honoured with the European Achievement in World Cinema Award.   Bernardo Bertolucci, whose films are known for their colourful visual style, including nine-Oscar winner The Last Emperor, will receive this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award.   They will be among the guests of the 25th edition of the European Film Awards hosted at the Mediterranean Conference Centre.


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Scheme extending lease period of Valletta businesses

from, 23


Land Minister Jason Azzopardi this morning launched a scheme extending the lease of Valletta business owners operating from government property to 45 years from six months.  475 government-owned shops in Valletta have a six-month lease agreement that is renewed once it expires.  This causes business owners problems when trying to get a bank loan to invest in their business.  The scheme was drawn up in consultation with the Chamber of Commerce, organisations representing business owners in Republic and Merchants’ streets and the GRTU.

The scheme, which is completely voluntary, will open for a year on December 1. It will extend the rental period to 45 years, renewed automatically every 15 years. It will also allow shop owners to sub-let their property, something that is currently not allowed. 


VAF comment:  This is an important initiative which will allow businesses to invest in Valletta. 


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Let’s hide the majestic bastions



An excellent heartfelt opinion piece from Giovanni Bonello about fortifications and trees.   Here are some excerpts:

“I believed it to be self-evident that, if a nation has something really precious to boast of, it would want its treasures seen, and seen to their best advantage. I believed that the people would do their utmost to enhance the visibility of anything inestimable. ….. The temples are unique, the baroque ravishing, the system of fortifications of Malta probably the mightiest anywhere. Allow me to repeat: nowhere in the world are fortifications more extensive, more impressive, more outstanding than they are in Malta. ……. Trees began being systematically planted, with rude senselessness and incontinent abandon, over the tops of the ramparts, and, more idiotically still, on the grounds close to them. ….…. Trees planted under the bastions, in close proximity to the walls, are a totally different matter. They end up concealing the ramparts, they conspire to make them almost invisible. They serve to make the bastions look puny. Instead of revving up their impact, trees scale the walls down to insignificance. While bastions are huge architectural sculptures in geometric forms, trees are sinuous, curvy, organic shapes which only belittle the starkness of the essential straight-line mathematics of the forts.  ….. We should be asking ourselves whether we can allow our most conspicuous architectural and cultural heirloom to lose its fundamental meaning. The bastions are walls of war, for war. They had a double function: to protect the community, but mostly to intimidate the enemy. They are not garden walls, they are not orchard walls – they have nothing in common with charm or with comfort.  Unless they look awesome and frightening, bastions are a joke.”


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Valletta 2018

from , 


Both Nationalist and Labour MPs gave an approving nod to the Valletta 2018 Foundation’s proposals to commemorate the title.  The main highlights will be the opening of a museum for contemporary art – with the old power station at Pinto Wharf cited as the location – converting the Mediterranean Conference Centre into a multi-performance space, renovating the old Valletta market and restoring the lighthouse at Fort St Elmo.


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An opinion piece on Valletta Shopping



Ramona Depares explains her preference to having convenient car park when she goes shopping:   “The reason behind this defection from Valletta, we are being told, is that people prefer to get rid of their shopping in one massive mall instead of traipsing around a variety of shops. Which is all very well and probably true, but I sure as hell hope no-one is suggesting turning beautiful Valletta into another Sliema.  At a guess I’d say that the main reason everyone prefers shopping malls is the fact that they tend to come with oh-so-convenient car parks attached to them. Drive in, park, shop, have coffee, carry your shopping bags down the elevator and you’re in and out in without the slightest hint of headache. ……  it’s perfectly useless lamenting the lack of shopping scene in Valletta if you’re all going to conspire together to make it impossible for us to actually shop there.”


Ramona Depares is right to raise the issue of access to Valletta.   Getting to Valletta for shopping takes time and effort.  She does however overstate her case.   With P&R and  car parks at Floriana, it is not all that difficult to find parking.  Yes it may be less convenient but that is the price to be paid for having an extensive pedestrian area where people can shop in safety, comfort and a pleasant environment.   Having said that, VAF  fully agrees that more needs to be done to provide parking IN Valletta.  There are solutions if only the authorities are willing to be more proactive about it.   Comment from Valletta Alive Foundation


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Survey shows drop in Valletta business



Valletta saw a drop of 10.3%, losing business to Sliema and Birkirkara.


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European Walled Towns



The capital city’s vice-mayor, Joseph Spiteri, has been elected to the prestigious post of president of the European Walled Towns (ETW) international association. The ETW’s aim is to “treasure, maintain and safeguard” historic walled towns all over Europe – its membership spans 100 walled towns across 20 countries.


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What lies beneath our capital city?



In 2005 Edward Said set off to explore subterranean Valletta to find out what really lies beneath the city and why it is there.  Seven years later, he has published a book called Sub­terranean Valletta, based on scholarly research that traces the city’s underground development from the ancient wells on Mount Sceberras to recent discoveries made during the City Gate regeneration project.  The book Subterranean Valletta was launched on October 24 at Auberge the Castille and is being sold from local bookshops.


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The agony and the ecstasy



Kenneth Zammit Tabona writes about V18:  “This is the spirit of V18. To start with, we must lift Valletta out of the abyss it had fallen into during those depressed post-war years and create a Centro Storico that will radiate all over Malta and Gozo. There are various restoration jobs currently going on. These should keep within the spirit of and respect the atmosphere of Valletta, which is as Baroque as Bach, Vivaldi and Handel.


We must not forget that Valletta is also a living city and not just a museum with people in it.


Therefore, wherever possible and with best possible taste, contemporary and modern interpolations could happily exist with the curlicues, columns and pediments of Valletta. ….


…. I am confident that the V18 vision is fully shared by all those who really love their country irrespective of colour, race and creed or, in Malta, political belief: people who are as passionately dedicated to seeing Valletta rise like a phoenix from the doldrums in which it has been becalmed since the war.”


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Valletta rightly wins European accolade



The excellent news that Valletta has been awarded the accolade of becoming one of Europe’s Capitals of Culture in 2018 is a tribute to the efficient team that has been working on Malta’s bid for the past three years.


It is also a great credit to the way in which the whole of the country unified behind the bid with all local councils agreeing that there should be one common application in the name ­of Valletta.


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Valletta named European Capital of Culture 2018 



Valletta was recommended for the title of European Capital of Culture in 2018 by an independent selection panel yesterday. The formal nomination will take place by the EU council of culture ministers in May 2013.


Addressing a news conference at the St John’s Co-Cathedral oratory, which is home to Caravaggio’s The Beheading of St John the Baptist, Manfred Gaulhofer, the chairman of the selection panel, announced the positive outcome of the panel’s decision, saying: “It’s a great honour for me and an immense pleasure of course, to present to you the decision of the jury within the surroundings of some of the most prestigious paintings in history and some of the most beautiful places in the world.” He said the selection panel’s decision was a unanimous one.


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Pensioner who waves out the cruise liners



Every time a cruise liner sails in or out of the Grand Harbour, a solitary figure appears perched high upon a roof ledge cheerily waving a Maltese flag to welcome or bid the passengers farewell.


Charles Cremona, 70, has the timetable of the liners’ activity in hand and like clockwork he appears on the roof of his apartment block overlooking the Lower Barrakka Gardens and Grand Harbour.


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Notte Bianca injects life into Valletta



Valletta is reenergised this evening as thousands of people throng through its streets to take part in the many activities being held as part of Notte Bianca.  Streets, gardens and cultural venues are hosting diverse entertainment and state palaces and museums have opened their doors, showcasing exhibitions and performances.


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The City awakes



Victor Calleja writes in his blog:  “Once the government decided to go ahead with the project saying how bad it is and how it should have been improved was rendered totally useless. The only advice worth hearing right now is how we can clear the entrance of all the stalls—the bread stalls, the pink pasti stalls and the kiosks as well as the mobile telephony pests. The rest is planned and the deal is done.”


Well said!


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Notte Bianca - September 29



Notte Bianca is once again set to light up the cityscape of Valletta on September 29 with a spectacular nocturnal celebration of people, culture and arts.   State palaces and museums will open their doors for the enjoyment of patrons showcasing visual art exhibitions and theatre performances, while the streets and piazzas will host some of the finest local and international musicians and dancers. Notte Bianca is organised by the Malta Council for Culture and The Arts. 



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Valletta 2018: An extravaganza of Maltese culture 



 Within the next few weeks, the V.18 Foundation will be presenting the proposed Cultural Programme for the Bid Book that Valletta will be presenting to the Culture Ministry – the Managing Authority for the bid to host the European Capital of Culture in Malta. This will include 60 projects that come from over 200 ideas put forward by the public.


The purpose of the Bid Book is to act as an application by Valletta to be awarded the title of ECoC in 2018 by the Selection Committee made up of seven foreign and six Maltese experts. These projects, together with others, will form the proposed Cultural Programme for 2018 and the ramp-up years. This programme is the result of a process of public engagement which V.18 has led over the past year.


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V18: Artistic Programme Directors announced


“Valletta continues to work in building a formidable artistic team to from part of its bid for European Capital of Culture in 2018, as the city gets closer to finally knowing whether it will be granted the title.    a final decision being expected in mid-October” said David Felice, Chairman of the Valletta 2018 Foundation, while addressing a press conference today, during which the composition of Wayne Marshall’s  team of newly appointed Artistic Programme Directors was announced.   The team  consists of Coryse Borg, Marc Cabourdin, Mario Frendo, Jean Pierre Magro, Paul Portelli, Raphael Vella and Ruben Zahra.  David Felice explained how they were selected following an open call which attracted  extensive interest from individuals from various areas.


Recently appointed Artistic Director for Valletta 2018, Mro Wayne Marshall said, Valletta’s bid to the ECoC will be a once in a lifetime opportunity for Malta to shine through artistic excellence.  “Valletta 2018 will be an opportunity to bring the arts to the people, through a commitment to working with local communities, to collaborate, develop and enhance key aspects in the arts scene.”


An excellent team has been appointed with ample experience in the arts and providing a good cross section of different art forms.    Valletta 2018 promises to provide great events and unforgettable experiences.  (Comment from Valletta Alive Foundation)


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Valletta Alive Foundation -

Annual Summer Dinner


The Valletta Alive Foundation will hold its Annual Summer Dinner for members and friends on  Saturday 11th August 2012 at 8pm.    Dinner will be at the Upper Barracca Gardens during the Delicata Wine Festival.    You can enjoy dinner and the panoramic late evening view of the Grand Harbour.   Those wishing to attend are to contact Ms Maria Dela on telephone number 21472255 during office hours. 




Maltese Mizet

Toasted ftira wedges buon Assisi, bigilla dip, galletti, stuffed olives and petit salad




Penne rigate with pancetta, mushrooms and capsicums

in a rich tomato and red wine sauce




From the grill:-

Skewered cod gambas with peppers and onions

Seared swordfish steak, lemon and fresh herbs

Porkbelly satay

Grilled chicken marinated in mustard, lemon & thyme

Grilled rib eye steak, garlic & rosemary

Marinated lamb chop, marjoram & orange glaze

Jacket potatoes, garlic butter

Accompanied by tossed salads

Cherry tomatoes, silver onions and basil

Russian salad

Chickpea, crispy bacon, sautéed onions& herbs

Battered zucchini vinaigrette

Butter beans, tomato paste, garlic, onions and parsley

Roasted aubergines, sun dried tomatoes, black olives and pesto

Curried rice salad with raisins, pineapple, smoked ham & chutney




Mango & vanilla delights on almond biscuit with orange & mint compote




Coffee and a half bottle of wine per person


Price:   €35.00 per person



St Elmo Bridge open to public    



St Elmo Bridge is open to the public.  People may visit the site for a remarkable experience. Transport Malta, however, advises caution.  No access is permitted onto the breakwater.    TM issued instructions regarding access to the bridge. 


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Prestigious title for Valletta as Capital of Culture



A statement from communications director V.18  well worth reproducing;


“I make reference to the article about Malta’s first EU presidency in 2017 (July 23). The year in which Malta will host the European Capital of Culture will be as significant as we want it to be and will reflect the importance that our country gives to arts and culture and the creative economy.


It is indeed with pride that we can claim to be well in advance with preparations – one year ahead by normal European standards. The Valletta 2018 Foundation – responsible for the delivery of the bid and the implementation of the programme for 2018 – understands the importance of the EU presidency and the benefits this may bring, especially since this now consists of a strong cultural programme itself and could well serve the purposes of The Culture Capital year that will follow soon after.


The European Capital of Culture is the most prestigious title that may be granted to a city in the European Union. The title gives each host city the opportunity to embark on challenging cultural projects that are meaningful both to its community and to European citizens and can serve to improve their infrastructure and encourage the generation of tomorrow’s heritage.


We have the opportunity for Valletta to be a worthy European Capital of Culture able also to host the EU’s presidency in 2017”





Valletta signs MOU with Eindhoven 



Valletta has entered into an agreement with the city of Eindhoven to collaborate and share expertise on the culture and the arts during and following the selection process towards the European Capital of Culture (ECoC) in 2018.


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St Elmo Bridge open to public    



St Elmo Bridge is open to the public.  People may visit the site for a remarkable experience. Transport Malta, however, advises caution.  No access is permitted onto the breakwater.    TM issued instructions regarding access to the bridge. 


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Prestigious title for Valletta as Capital of Culture



A statement from communications director V.18  well worth reproducing;


“I make reference to the article about Malta’s first EU presidency in 2017 (July 23). The year in which Malta will host the European Capital of Culture will be as significant as we want it to be and will reflect the importance that our country gives to arts and culture and the creative economy.


It is indeed with pride that we can claim to be well in advance with preparations – one year ahead by normal European standards. The Valletta 2018 Foundation – responsible for the delivery of the bid and the implementation of the programme for 2018 – understands the importance of the EU presidency and the benefits this may bring, especially since this now consists of a strong cultural programme itself and could well serve the purposes of The Culture Capital year that will follow soon after.


The European Capital of Culture is the most prestigious title that may be granted to a city in the European Union. The title gives each host city the opportunity to embark on challenging cultural projects that are meaningful both to its community and to European citizens and can serve to improve their infrastructure and encourage the generation of tomorrow’s heritage.


We have the opportunity for Valletta to be a worthy European Capital of Culture able also to host the EU’s presidency in 2017”





Valletta signs MOU with Eindhoven 



Valletta has entered into an agreement with the city of Eindhoven to collaborate and share expertise on the culture and the arts during and following the selection process towards the European Capital of Culture (ECoC) in 2018.


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Parliament Building



In this letter to the editor, one correspondent says:  “There isn’t one single country that does not have its own parliamentary building. Much bigger countries went so far as to build new cities like Brasilia, Ottawa, Washington DC, Canberra, Wellington etc., with the Parliament House being the main focus of such towns.”


Very well said! Moreover, better have a purpose-designed building for Parliament rather than create a hotchpotch from some other building (and assuming that MEPA would have allowed the many modifications that would have inevitably been required).  (comment from John Ebejer)


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Financial incentives for restoration

Scheme deadline extended



If you own a property in Valletta or in any other UCA you should actively consider a government scheme ‘Investi f’ darek’ to finance restoration works.  


“Under this grant scheme, the private owners of residential Grade 1 and Grade 2 scheduled buildings and all buildings within UCAs may apply for a rebate on the cost of restoration, conservation or maintenance carried out between 1 January and 30 June 2014. The grant is capped at 20 per cent of the restoration costs up to a maximum of €5,000 per beneficiary. This scheme is being made available to a maximum of 1,000 beneficiaries on a first come, first served basis and only one building per applicant is eligible for support under this scheme.”


This means that for every euro invested by government a further four euros will be invested by the private sector in restoration of historic property.   Leverage of private funds by means of public sector incentives is the way forward, because the level of investment needed to bring Valletta and other historic areas up to scratch will never happen with public funds alone.   Put differently, for 5 million invested by government a further 20 million euros will be invested by private owners.


“....the deadline for applications for grants under the scheme to promote investment in the restoration, conservation and maintenance of privately-owned residential properties located within Urban Conservation Areas (UCAs) and of Grade 1 and Grade 2 scheduled buildings is being extended up until Friday, 28 September 2012.  The scheme, which was launched in February this year, is the first in a series of financial incentives announced in the government budget for 2012 with the aim of promoting sustainable urban regeneration and reversing the trends of residential vacancy, dilapidation and urban decay.”


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I find the involvement of MEPA in this scheme somewhat hypocritical.  Fort St. Elmo is a project which does not involve new construction or removal of historic buildings – the bulk of more than 15 million euros will go into the restoration of the various buildings – the remaining amount will go to the fitting out of a military history museum.  And yet, MEPA went out of its way to obstruct during the development application process.  It kept insisting for an EIA in a situation where, because of EU funding requirements, delaying the project by a year or more was not an option.   In other words, had MEPA had its way, the restoration of Fort St. Elmo would not have happened.


With one hand MEPA supports a scheme for restoration and with the other hand it obstructs a much needed restoration project in Valletta.    (Comment by John Ebejer)



Valletta cultural capital bid appoints artistic director 



The Valletta 2018 Foundation this week named internationally renowned conductor Wayne Marshall as Artistic Director for Valletta’s bid for the title of European Capital of Culture. The announcement marks an important step in establishing of the team who will be leading Valletta towards 2018.


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Valletta Bastions



In this letter to the editor, one correspondent notes “the wonderful job done on the Valletta bastions’ restoration. The one pity is that the trees lining Marsamxett are screening their beauty.”  He states:  “I wonder if anyone has considered transplanting them to show off our unique bastions or, at least, give them a good pruning, which they sorely need irrespective of the location.”


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La Valette’s statue for Valletta



“A bronze effigy of the great man who carved out a new chapter in the island’s history will feature prominently in the new St Catherine Square later this year, a few metres away from where he had laid the foundation stone in 1566.”


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Interview: Valletta 2018 – A cultural capital and beyond 



In this interview with the Independent, Greg Richards explains some aspects of European Cultural Capital (ECoC).   Greg Richards is professor of leisure studies at Tilburg University in the Netherlands and has been involved in researching and evaluating the ECoC programme for the past ten years.


The following is an interesting excerpt of the interview:  In 2018 “we should be expecting the unexpected” in the sense that this event does not fit the conventional style of cultural events; it must be something original. He added that one of the challenges for the organisers is to manage to attract the largest number of people by catering for different audiences“. So you need to engage local citizens on a broad level, and the key actors in the cultural sector to ensure a high standard. This is a very delicate balance. An easy model can be a U2 concert with tour ships visiting the Grand Harbour, but it won’t score high points for creativity. I think Malta should steer away from this model and should develop more innovative concepts that appeal to mass audiences but at the same time keeping a very clear idea of what it wants to achieve in terms of artistic excellence.”


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Celebrating art and culture

Posted on 9 June 2012

Valletta’s bid to become a European Capital of Culture in 2018 is well underway.  This five-minute promo video calls for greater recognition of local artists and their works.  The video takes viewers on a stroll through Malta’s capital, encouraging them to give greater consideration to the arts and culture.


For video go to:



A beautiful city

Posted on 9 June 2012

This blog offers an interesting perspective of our Capital City from a non-Maltese. 


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Valletta: Massive public investment in our Capital City


Over the years, Valletta Alive Foundation has made its views known about Valletta and also about the City Gate project.  VAF is pleased to note that there is significant convergence of ideas between VAF and  Today Public Policy Institute.   (Comment from Valletta Alive Foundation).


This opinion piece from Martin Scicluna of Today Public Policy Institute discusses current progress on the transformation of Valletta.  It is worth reproducing excerpts of this opinion piece:  


Valletta: From a city betrayed to a city redeemed:  “Moving on to the bigger issues. St George’s Square is superb. One could carp at the lighting, but overall the square has been re-invigorated and the completion of the cleaning of the facade of the President’s Palace makes it the centre-piece again of Valletta. Many of the palazzos and auberges have been cleaned and are beautifully flood-lit at night. St John’s Co-Cathedral is a gem. Our Lady of Victory Church is under-going a renaissance under the outstanding care of Din l-Art Ħelwa. The four public gardens have been restored and are again a great asset to the enjoyment of Valletta. The pedestrianisation of Merchants Street and Republic Street is a great success. In a city which is only about nine hundred metres long and five hundred metres wide, greater pedestrianisation should be possible and desirable. The tyranny of the motor car needs to be tamed.


A number of bread-and butter issues remain outstanding. Street lighting needs to be improved. The upkeep of balconies, so redolent of the typical Valletta street-scape, must be actively encouraged. The signage to all the historic sites in Valletta, and indeed the sites themselves should be uniformly done and uniformly attractive. Broken pavements (where they have not been replaced by re-paved roads) still remain a hazard to the unwary pedestrian.     One major problem remains. Parking facilities around the city are inadequate. Yet any further move towards pedestrianisation can only succeed if parking spaces around the periphery are substantially increased.......” 


“As to the mega-projects, this government has finally shown the decisiveness and determination to tackle the opera-house site – the first government in 70 years to do so – together with the whole City Gate, Freedom Square, bus station nexus. These formed an eye-sore of the ugliest proportions – a major stain on the whole city which totally undermined its World Heritage site status. Within the next 12 to 18 months the whole of that area will have been transformed for the better.   In saying this, I realise that the building of a modern Parliament building at the entrance to this baroque city has been controversial on grounds of style, cost, a desire in some quarters for an opera house or modern art gallery and, I suspect, the mere fact of having our Members of Parliament inhabit a prime site when it is fashionable for such people to be held in contempt. I utterly reject such arguments for two reasons. First, this young, sovereign, independent state was long over-due for proper premises for its House of Representatives. While one could have a constructive discussion about the availability of alternative sites, Parliament’s departure from the Palace – where it has been a trespasser – will free up space to return the President’s Palace to its former glory.  Secondly, placing the design of the whole area in the hands of Renzo Piano, a world-renowned architect, has been a master-stroke. While a judgement about all art and architecture is inevitably subjective, I am convinced that the juxtaposition of the parliament building with the old, ruined opera house and the Cavalier in the background will be outstandingly successful. We shall have an iconic (for once this over-used word is justified) modern building, which will make the entrance to this historic, baroque city striking and exciting for both local and foreign visitors alike.”


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Valletta waking up from hibernation


The Times editorial (excerpt below) notes the progress that increased public sector investment has brought about in Valletta.  It mentions numerous projects completed in recent years.  Others important changes not mentioned in the editorial are the extension of the pedestrian areas, the Fortifications Interactive Centre at Biaggio Steps (which is near completion) and the restoration of Fort St. Elmo (which has just started). 


The authorities need to find ways and means how to encourage more private investment in Valletta properties to improve the urban environment.  There are still far too many buildings in Valletta which are empty or underutilised.


The park and ride, the new parking at Floriana and the lift to Upper Barracca all help to improve access to Valletta.  These notwithstanding, more needs to be done to improve access to Valletta include the provision of more parking along Valletta’s periphery.  (Comment from Alfred Zahra, Chairman, Valletta Alive Foundation )


Valletta waking up from hibernation “After a long period of what can well be described as post-colonial hibernation, when Valletta was left to its own devices to decay and crumble under the weight of sheer disinterest, the city is now once again beginning to stir and take the feel of a lively European city, at least during the day. An extensive programme of renovation and regeneration has already produced significant results and if the drive is kept up it will not be very long before Valletta can once again hold its head high among the list of most interesting small European cities.”


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The piecemeal history of the Palace 


Noel Grima reports on a lecture by architectural historian Conrad Thake on the history of the architecture of the Palace. Dr Thake showed how the history of the Palace is a convoluted and complex one. Yet for over 200 years it was the centre of power in Malta.  St John’s and the Palace are practically back to back – a proximity that is not accidental and that exemplifies the dynamics of power under the Order. The bishop was at Mdina, the Inquisitor at Vittoriosa and the Order ruled in Valletta. There was a very angry reaction by the Order when the bishop proposed having his palace in Valletta and he was only allowed to have one without a prison. St John’s, in contrast to its present position as the Co-Cathedral, was the church of the Order.


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Atelier Madeleine Gera Studio Exhibition Summer 2012 


A collective exhibition of drawings and paintings of students of the Atelier of Madeleine Gera will be held at Vee Gee Bee in Republic Street, Valletta and will be open to the public from 8 to the 22 June. It is a collective exhibition by nine participants: Nadette Bugeja, Donnah Calleja, Teresa Cordina, Paul Farrugia, Daphne Pia Kelleher, Lee Roberts, BJ Sammut, Adrian Scicluna Calleja, Benjamin Van Beek.


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Imagine 18 

The next important event for ECOC 2018


Imagine 18 is an event set to bring together artists and cultural operators from various spheres to develop Valletta’s bid to host the European Capital of Culture in 2018.  Imagine 18 shall place in centre stage the Cultural Programme that Valletta will need to submit in its final bid later this year.  The public conference and forum shall take place on Wednesday 30th at the Manoel Theatre, Valletta and Thursday 31st May and at Verdala Palace, Rabat.


The Valletta 2018 Foundation is pleased to announce the panel of speakers who will be addressing those present at the Manoel Theatre on Wednesday 30th May.  The expertise of the speakers is wide ranging, and shall facilitate a healthy discussion about the impact of the European Capital of Culture title on Art and Culture in Malta.


 The panel shall consist of Vince Briffa (artist), Rebecca Cremona (film maker), Kathrin Deventer (European Festivals Association Secretary General), Immanuel Mifsud (writer), Greg Richards (ECoC expert), Karsten Xuereb (V.18 Project Coordinator) and Ruben Zahra (composer).  Pierre J. Mejlak and Malcolm Galea shall also address the conference which will be led by Marie Briguglio.


 “V.18’s mission is to develop the conditions for a Visible, a Virtual and a Visceral Culture to develop in Valletta and Malta in general” says Karsten Xuereb, Project Coordinator at Valletta 2018 Foundation.  “A Visible Culture shall sustain a tangible cultural infrastructure to support a long-term legacy; a Virtual Culture that shall nurtur a sound technological structure that will result in new outcomes and effective forms of communication; and a Visceral Culture that shall enable a debating society.”


The discussion shall progress on Thursday 31st May at the Verdala Palace in Rabat where the current platform of  8 Thematic Areas shall be discussed in 4 different workshops led by their respective Thematic Area Coordinators.


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Valletta Book Presentation



A retailer’s survival kit


Although lack of parking and other problems impinge on retailing in Valletta, in this opinion piece John Cassar White argues that there are developments in the retail business which is making the more traditional forms of retailing more difficult. 


“Valletta is no longer the Mecca for local shoppers who prefer the Sliema area for their shopping sprees. Transport problems as well as lack of parking facilities and continuous and disruptive building works are an undeniable source of irritation for the business community in Valletta. The flow of tourists in our capital is not sufficient to compensate for the fall in local shoppers. But the decline in retail business can be explained more convincingly by other developments.”


Football:  Valletta seal 21st title in style



The party has kicked off, the bottles of bubbly uncorked. A festive atmosphere reigned at the National Stadium as Valletta embellished their status as the kings of Maltese football after sealing their 21st title with a straightforward 3-0 win over Sliema Wanderers.

Valletta’s victory bell



In this letter to the editor, one tourist says:  “I am a regular visitor to Malta and in the last three years have visited the bell just before noon on several days of my holiday in the hope that I may hear it toll. It did not toll on any of these occasions.”

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Valletta... the small city with very big ambitions


 This is an interesting interview with David Felice, Chairman of Valletta 2018 Foundation.   Mr. Felice notes that :  “Despite the almost innate polarisation, even political consensus was immediately secured and a charter signed by 68 local councils in a mere 10 days. Although Valletta carries the title, the councils agreed to collaborate so the impact would be on the whole territory and events would be spread out.”

The cooperation that has been displayed by all local councils is indeed commendable.  It will be instrumental for Malta to successful host the European Capital of Culture in 2018.  (Comment from  Valletta Alive Foundation).



Getting to cultural venues:

public vs private transport



Lights on the Manoel:  Chairman Michael Grech admits that the lack of parking spaces in Valletta “has had a bearing on ticket sales”. It has put people off coming into the capital city, be it for shopping, business or to go to the theatre.


This confirms what many have long suspected:  the decrease in parking has badly effected Manoel Theatre.  The same can be said for the MCC.  The issue of access and parking in Valletta has to be carefully considered, not only with reference to residents and the commercial community, but also with reference to cultural venues in Valletta.  Whereas improvements in public transport are welcome, it is unreasonable to expect important cultural facilities to rely on public transport.  The authorities need to understand that the provision of reasonable parking facilities close to important cultural facilities is a must. 


In the case, of the MCC the only feasible option for substantial parking is the Evans site.   Substantial parking on the Evans site could also be useful to the Manoel theatre, because the short distance between the Evans and the Manoel theatre would allow for a park and ride system which is very quick, and hence more viable.  (comment from John Ebejer)


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Spoiling the view



A regular tourist notes how large notices fixed to the railing at the upper Baracca  “not only spoil but obliterate much of the view, especially when one is sitting on many of the excellent seats provided.”    This goes to show that attention to detail is of utmost importance. 

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Green building and Valletta’s water



This opinion piece argues against the use of reservoirs in Valletta because water seepages from underground reservoirs will damage the foundations of important historic buildings. 


The conclusions of this opinion piece are questionable.  Water is a vital resource and we should try to make better use of it.  Effective use of rainwater will reduce water and eventually energy consumption, and thus reduce carbon emissions.  These are green solutions which more buildings should be fitted with, including in Valletta. (Comment from Valletta Alive Foundation). 

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‘Bold’ plans for a Grand Harbour bridge,



Bold Plans:  Imagine Floriana’s main road paved for pedestrians, a bridge crossing the Grand Harbour and two tram lines connecting almost all of Malta’s urban area.  Those are just three of the “bold” proposals made yesterday by the Temi Zammit Foundation, a non-profit organisation set up by the government to boost innovation and regional development.


It is good to think outside the box and ideas that first seem out of reach may well become doable after careful discussion and consideration.  The idea of a bridge across the inner parts of the Grand Harbour (i.e near Kordin) is doable but one would need to consider what the savings in journey times and reduced traffic congestion along Triq Dicembru Tlettax would justify the cost.  


The idea of pedestrianising St. Anne Street is ill-conceived.  Even if one were to assume that access problems to Valletta would be resolved, creating a large space for pedestrians which will be marginally used is evidently a wrong idea.  For most of the time, a pedestrianised St. Anne Street would be a dead space.  It would make more sense instead to consider how to generate some activity and vitality in the existing pedestrian spaces under the arcades.  (Comments by John Ebejer). 


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Parliament in the pink



Malta’s honey-coloured hard stone, known as tal-qawwi, seems to have earned more appreciation since it started to be used to dress the south-facing façade of the new Parliament offices at City Gate.   Its use has also introduced an innovative quarrying method that utilises what is known as a diamond wire, which allows the cutting of massive blocks, seven metres in length and three metres high, as opposed to blasting techniques.

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New bus services, cheaper parking announced



The government has announced a number of changes to bus routes, cheaper parking at the Park and Ride facilities and cheaper bus fares for persons with disabilities following agreement with Arriva.  The Transport Ministry said day parking at the Floriana and Pembroke Park and Ride, including transport, will cost €1.50, a reduction of 40% on current prices. The changes come into force on May 27.

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Stonework giving unique character



Workers have started covering the steel frame of the new Parliament House with unique louvre-like stonework. The tal-qawwi stone was cut from a quarry in Gozo and has been shaped in Italy to give the building a unique character.


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A must for classical music lovers

posted on 2 April 2012


The 6th International Spring Festival will take place at the Manoel Theatre from the 10 to the 14th April.  This has now become a yearly event.  In his introduction to the programme the Artistic Director Karl Fiorini notes that the Festival “brings together musicians who despite their diversity, effortlessly unite through their love of music, an international language that knows no bounds, which they re eager to impart to each and every one of us.”      An event not to be missed by all music lovers.

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European Capital of Culture in 2018?



In this opinion piece, Pamela Hansen analyses various Valletta projects and initiatives and expresses doubt as to whether ECOC 2018 will eventually be successful. 

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Inglorious bulwarks:  Mark Anthony Falzon offers an interesting perspective of fortifications and their restoration. “Restoration is fine but it wouldn’t do to strip the walls of their mundane history and to ‘elevate’ them to some abstract notion of heritage. They may soon be a uniform colour but without the circuses and shady characters and stories they’d be, I dare say, quite colourless.”



Sustainability and Fort St. Elmo



Adoption of sustainable development principles: (see post below) In his letter to the Editor and referring to the SPED,  Godwin Cassar states:    “In determining applications for development permission it must be made absolutely clear that new issues will have to be taken into account such as energy use and conservation, air quality, CO2 emissions, biodiversity, health indicators, water conservation, etc.”


If this were to happen, the development control process will grind to a halt.   Processing a development application will become far too complex resulting in endless delays. 


There are not enough personnel within MEPA with adequate planning expertise (as opposed to experts on biodiversity, conservation, air quality or whatever).  Instead of taking a holistic view, some MEPA officers seek the refusal of an application on one particular aspect, blissful ignoring all beneficial aspects of the project.


I will use the development applications for the restoration of Fort St. Elmo and Carafa Enceinte to illustrate the point.  (My involvement in the project is obo the applicant).   The applications were approved recently.  During processing, MEPA officers tried to torpedo the project ( by putting up all sorts of obstacles and hurdles) on the pretext that the use of the area as a museum and ramparts walk might (and I emphasize might) increase traffic and pollution along Marsamxett Road.  These same MEPA officers ignored the significant benefits that the restoration of this important historical monument will bring.  (Incidentally, they also ignored the fact that the relocation of the police academy out of Fort St. Elmo will decrease traffic.) 


In the name of sustainability, MEPA was inches away from doing the most unsustainable thing possible – obstructing the investment of 15 million euros in restoration and reuse of Fort St. Elmo and Carafa Enceinte. 


 (comment by John Ebejer)



Dealing with Derelict Areas



Adoption of sustainable development principles:  Referring to the Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development (SPED), Godwin Cassar states in this letter to the editor , “The SPED should also require identification of areas that are derelict, having a high percentage of vacancy, having low space standards, in multiple ownership and do not provide decent accommodation, where the intervention of the government is required to acquire the property for redevelopment with the participation of the private sector and the involvement of the current owners who would benefit from a return on their holding.  It is only through this measure that one can hope to arrest the decline of population numbers in places like Valletta and the Three Cities.”

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Valletta 2018

Candidate European Capital of Culture


By now most people know that Valletta is Candidate City for European Capital of Culture (2018).  But what does it involve?  What preparations are being carried out?  How can each one of use get involved when year 2018 comes around?


Karsten Xuereb - Valletta 2018 Project Coordinator will be giving a presentation on the V.18 bid for the European Capital of Culture (2018).   This will be on next Thursday 29 March 2012 at 7.15 pm at the Exchange Buildings, Republic Street Valletta.   Everyone is invited to attend. 


The presentation will be the introduction to the Annual General Meeting of the Valletta Alive Foundation. 



Restoration works at Grandmasters’ Palace



Restoration works on Valletta Palace facades underway: The main façade of the Grandmaster's Palace in Valletta has been extensively restored and work is currently going on the remaining facades.


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Church of Our Lady of Victory



Contributors thanked… but much more needed for Our Lady of Victory Church restoration:    Noel Grima reports on a fund raising event organised by Din l-Art Ħelwa in aid of the restoration of Our Lady of Victory Church.  He gives a brief overview of the historical relevance of the Church.   The following is an excerpt:    “OLV is not just the first church to be built in Valletta in thanksgiving for the 1565 Great Siege victory over the invading Turk armada. It was also the first parish of Valletta, the first burial place (its crypt was the first burial place of Grand Master de Valette), also the first meeting hall for the Order’s Council, and also the first court of the city.  Even more than that, while St John’s Co-Cathedral is a wonderful monument to all that the multinational Order brought to Malta, OLV is the church that highlights the signal contributions made by Maltese to Malta’s cultural legacy. A Maltese, Ġlormu Cassar, built it and its paintings are by Maltese artists Stefano Erardi and Francesco Zahra. It is a place that encapsulates the Maltese identity, that which differentiates Malta from the other islands of the Mediterranean because only Malta is a people, a state, a nation.”

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Art Museum proposed for the Valletta Market



Idea brightens up cold spring night:  Architect Chris Briffa proposes an arts museum for the Valletta market.  The proposal is described as follows;  “he proposes first of all to bring the building back to the Merchants Street line of buildings by digging a series of steps down to what today is the basement of the building and turning that basement into the first level of the museum. On top, he proposes a cantilevered extension of the building jutting out to reach the Merchants Street line of buildings. This could be an extension of the museum itself but it could also house the administration offices. It could also provide shelter for open-air activities such as the showing of films, concerts and the like underneath it while people sit on the steps.  With access at the lower level, the side ditches of the building can become artistic venues where artists can showcase their creations.  The clerestory roof should be restored and the escalator fixed so that the upper levels of the museum can be opened up to the visiting public.”

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Valletta 2018 logo on Air Malta aircraft



Air Malta's Airbus A320 9H-AEO has been rebranded with the Valletta 2018 logo to promote Valletta’s bid to become European Capital of Culture 2018.   The aircraft returned to Malta after getting its brand new look, sporting Valletta's iconic skyline.

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Awards for Valletta Cruise Port



Valletta Cruise Port has won Cruise Insight's awards for the Most Responsive Port and Best Turnaround Port Operations for 2011.  Cruise Insight described Valletta Cruise Port as a "high quality port facility with senior leadership that are constantly soliciting feedback on how to improve".

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Peter Serracino Inglott

posted on 17 march 2012


Fr. Peter was born in Valletta and often made reference to his Valletta roots.  Valletta Alive Foundation pays tribute to a man who has given so much to Maltese society.  Condolences to his family. 



City Gate – a diary of demolition

posted on 17 march 2012


The showings of the documentary ‘City Gate – a diary of demolition’ have been extended to Friday 23 March 2012.  Bettina Hutschek’s experimental documentary shows, from various angles, the successive removal of the gate, and provides a subjective approach to city memory and oblivion that establishes a historic link between Valletta’s past and future. ‘City Gate – a diary of demolition’ is being screened at 4, Sappers Street, Valletta (Tue-Thu. 10am-4pm, Fri. 10am-1pm).



City Gate bridge




Work began last Friday on the City Gate bridge, the next stage in the construction of the new entrance to Valletta.

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Restoring the guardian of our harbours



The Mepa board on Thursday approved two of three applications regarding the restoration of Fort St Elmo in lower Valletta – that regarding the fort itself and that regarding its enceinte (the surrounding battlements).   The government had submitted an application for ERDF funds and this application, amounting to €15.3 million, has been accepted.  Work will begin as early as next month and the restoration should be completed by 2014 following which the fort and enceinte will be passed on to Heritage Malta which then will create a Museum of the Military History of Malta inside the fort.

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Fort St Elmo Project approved


The MEPA Board approves the project for Fort St. Elmo.  The €15.3 million EU-funded project will restore and regenerate the 16th century Fort St Elmo.  It is being implemented by the Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation.

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Parliament building at Fort St. Elmo?

posted on 16 march 2012

Comments posted under a Times report on St. Elmo claim that the best location for a new parliament building would have been Fort St. Elmo.   Clearly, the people who hold this view are not sufficiently familiar with the Fort and the Enceinte. None of the internal spaces within this system of fortifications is large enough to hold the parliamentary chamber.  This means that a new building would have had to be constructed something which would most certainly not have been allowed because of the Grade 1 listing of the site.  Similarly a single building housing all the offices of the parliamentarians would have been required and this building would have had to be connected to the parliamentary chamber.  The advantage of new build, as has happened at the City Gate site, is that the building can be designed to meet requirements.  The disadvantage of adapting existing historic buildings/s would have been that significant COMPROMISES would have had to be made with the conservation value of the building/s OR the functionality of the parliament use OR both.  (comment by John Ebejer) 


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Valletta cultural capital



Capitalising on culture:  Here is an interesting read from Ranier Fsadni.  Well worth reading.  The following is an excerpt:    “Valletta as cultural capital, if it is to be successful, would have to serve both functions. It would have to represent a form of creative, cosmopolitan conviviality. But it would also have to serve as a place where one learns how to participate in such creativity, not least by reflecting on the future. A real creative centre is one that takes and gives its energy by stimulating its visitors to consider what is possible and what one can become.”

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Valletta Alive Foundation

The Annual General Meeting of the VAF will be held on Thursday the 29th March 2012 at the Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise at 7.15pm.  The meeting is also open to non-members, although they would not be entitled to vote.    If you want to know more about the VAF browse this website or come to the AGM.



Auditorium for orchestral performances (2)


The argument is being made that it is possible to have an auditorium for orchestral performances on the opera house site.  The logic seems to be: if it can be done, then it must be done.  Whether or not it is doable should not be the only consideration.  Even if no details are available, it is safe to say that an auditorium would fall far short from a proper national theatre.  A national theatre requires, for example, a wide flexible stage, something that cannot be provided on the opera house site.  There are also limitations on backstage facilities and auditorium seating.  In terms of facilities, an auditorium on the opera house site would only be marginally better than the Manoel Theatre (except of course for the acoustics which would be properly designed for in a new auditorium).  Its use would be for orchestral performances and little else.  How sensible is it to provide limited facilities, when the priority was and still is a national theatre?   (Comment by John Ebejer)



Of politics and culture: In this letter to the editor, Karl Consiglio supports calls for the development of an auditorium for orchestral performances on the opera house site. 

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Barrakka lift



Barrakka lift fast taking shape:  The core of the new Barrakka lift has risen more than half way up from Lascaris Ditch to the Upper Barrakka, and a spokesman for the Infrastructure Ministry said the project is on time and on budget.   …  The work started in the second half of last year and the structure has now risen to 38 metres with 20 metres to go.”

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New carpet for Cathedral



Cathedral gets new carpet: A new, tailor-made carpet has just joined the cluster of priceless works of art at St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta.


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Auditorium for orchestral performances



Damascene U-turns:  In this opinion piece Kenneth Zammit Tabona reiterates his call for the construction of an auditorium for orchestral performances on the opera house site. 

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Mr. Zammit Tabona makes reference to an article by Lou Bondi three years back.  It is useful to quote an excerpt from this earlier article by Mr. Bondi as follows: 

Rocking the opera house “Certain niche art forms, including opera, do deserve some sort of public support. But this should be granted only after certain questions are prudently and unequivocally answered. What exactly is the capital and recurrent expenditure presently being demanded by opera fans as of right? Is the amount socially just, given that the maximum number of beneficiaries is 700 people? If it is allotted, will equity with respect to other specialised art forms be honoured?”

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Tunnel for Valletta access



Light at end of tunnel for Valletta access: The 75-metre tunnel, which links the Marsamxett end of South Street to the ditch below City Gate, will be given a new lease of life through a €1 million government project to restore the area and create a new access point.”

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The Importance of Public Spaces

On 8 March, a lecture by the anthropologist Elise Billiard will employ the City Gate project to expand upon the idea of public spaces - their use and relevance in a contemporary society which seems to have lost a sense of community.  Billiard's lecture will ask: "Where space is mostly private or restricted, is there a place where a sense of community can proliferate within a framework of public space?"  The lecture will take place at Europa House, 254 St Paul's Street, Valletta at 6pm.  It will further expand on the role of urbanists and architects in designing public spaces which would "encourage local democracy and a sense of common good".

Attendance to the lecture is by reservation only, through

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A shabby entrance to Valletta



A shabby entrance to Valletta:  Stephen Calleja about Valletta’s entrance and says amongst others : 

Many times I wish I had that long wooden stick too, because I cannot stand the way the entrance to our capital city looks. As long as I can remember, long before the work started to rebuild City Gate, the entrance was not fit for a city which is said to have been built by gentlemen for gentlemen. Now, with all the makeshift boards, narrow passageway and construction work going on, the situation is as bad as it could get. ……. ….. I hope that, when the construction work is completed – on the new entrance as well as the Parliament building – it will serve as a new starting point for the capital city, which deserves much better. I hope that it will be taken as a chance to give Valletta a new look and that what is now a haphazard collection of stalls is eliminated once and for all.”

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A site for the national theatre away from Valletta



A national theatre foundation:  In a letter to the editor, Anthony Saliba writes “I think we all agree that the site of the old opera house in Valletta was inadequate to build a theatre catering for today’s operatic productions. So why should we not move out of Valletta and seek a proper site (ideally facing a green park and providing underground parking), ….”  He proposes the establishment of a Committee to raise funds. 

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Boutique hotels for Valletta



Diversified niche markets are future for tourism: The editorial of the Times comments on niche tourism markets.   It states:  “One such growth area could result from the encouragement for owners of old grand palazzi in Valletta to consider converting them into boutique guesthouses that appeal to cultural tourists who appreciate the beauty of the capital city. Dr de Marco was right in insisting that, whatever upgrading developments in this and other areas are undertaken, this should not be done at the expense of preserving the environment. This idea needs to be followed up with the introduction of a scheme to help the financing of such upgrades, …… …. The acknowledgement that Malta’s and Gozo’s competitive advantage lies mainly in the rich historical heritage should be the cornerstone of a tourism strategy for the next five years and beyond. The embellishment of Valletta and the older cities will continue to be a top priority for the improvement of the tourism infrastructure. Opening up more of the country’s historical buildings for longer hours will help to give tourists a unique experience of the cultural wealth that the locals seem to take for granted but that amaze visitors.”

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No access to Valletta



No access to Valletta: In a letter to the editor, Sandra Davis congratulates organisers and participants of the Malta Marathon.  She notes, however, that access to Valletta is restricted when such events are held to the detriment of people who wish to visit Valletta and to Valletta residents and businesses.   

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Valletta 2018:  Proposal for projects opens

The V18 Foundation welcomes proposals for the development of the Cultural Programme.  This will be presented as part of its final bid to the final selection in October for Valletta to obtain the title of European Capital of Culture 2018.

A Parliament for a Maltese democracy 

The Times editorial ‘Financing the new Parliament building’  repeats the claim made by some that another Valletta building could have been found to house the new parliament.  The two buildings which were often suggested were the Main Guard and Auberge de Castille.  The former is far too small even if additional storeys were to be allowed.  Any overlying structure on the Main Guard would completely alter the character, not only of the building itself, but of Pjazza San Gorg.  The latter option, Auberge de Castille, would have resulted in countless difficulties to find an appropriate alternative for the Prime Minister’s Office and innumerable logistical difficulties to carry out the move.  For both options, even the slightest interventions would have resulted in countless objections.   Housing a modern-day parliament within a historic building would necessitate countless comprises resulting in a hotch potch.

Another consideration is that a parliament building is replete with meaning.  A Parliament building is not just a functional building but is a symbol of a democracy.    The new Parliament building is one of just twenty seven national parliaments across the EU and therefor symbolises the role that Malta plays in Europe.  In my opinion, it was a conscious decision against adapting an existing building built by past foreign occupiers.   A Parliament for a Maltese democracy merits a building built by a Maltese government.  (comment from John Ebejer)


Financing the new Parliament building:  The Times editorial comments on the financial mechanism for the City Gate Project; namely a company would raise money for the project and then lease it to the government over a number of years.

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given below.   (Comment from Valletta Alive Foundation.) 


Historical & Cultural Segment section of the draft“Malta’s rich cultural heritage, which includes six World Heritage Sites together with our cultural scene is becoming increasingly well known abroad. During the lifespan of this policy, Malta will have a unique opportunity to showcase its heritage and culture in 2018 when it will be hosting the European Capital of Culture.  While sites such as St John’s Co Cathedral and the Grand Master’s Palace still manage to attract large visitor numbers, other heritage sites are not living up to their potential. There is certainly scope for increasing visitor numbers in certain sites and in re-visiting the kind of experience that is being offered. The projects underway together with those being proposed in the cultural heritage sector present a strong marketing opportunity that could serve to attract more cultural tourists to Malta.

Policy Responses:  We will promote Valletta and the Harbour Area as a short-break cultural destination by:

  • Creating a dedicated Valletta Website;

  • Producing a special Valletta Harbour Area brochure;

  • Promoting sea transport between Valletta and the Three Cities;

  • Promoting the Renzo Piano projects in Valletta;

  • Promoting the restoration of 6 kms of Fortifications; and,

  • Promoting Valletta as the European Cultural Capital 2018.

We will promote Malta’s Cultural Events and Activities by:

  • Further developing the MTA website to promote Malta as a vibrant cultural destination offering a varied calendar of events all year round;

  • Promoting the traditional and contemporary versatile cultural productions – theatre, festivals, performance and visual arts through an enhanced MTA website;

  • Promoting the Opera Seasons in both Malta (Teatru Manoel, Valletta-March and in Gozo (Teatru Aurora, Teatru Astra, Victoria – October) through specialised Tour Operators;

  • Encouraging Tour Operators to include the following events within their group programmes (Carnival, Birgufest, Mdina Festival, Notte Bianca);

  • Promoting the Malta Music Week (featuring the Isle of MTV), the Malta Arts Festival and the Jazz Festival with tour operators and airlines; and,

  • Promoting works of contemporary art, fashion, design and creativity and attracting tourists who are interested in the creative and artistic side that Malta and Gozo has to offer.”

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City Gate – a diary of demolition

Here’s a documentary which many with an interest in Valletta will most certainly look forward to. (Comment from Valletta Alive Foundation.) 

‘City Gate – a diary of demolition’ documentary free public screenings:

Valletta’s City Gate has been rebuilt three times and is currently undergoing yet another renaissance. As a result of this transformation, new areas of interaction between the people and the city itself are being created.  Bettina Hutschek’s experimental documentary entitled City Gate explores the formation of space not only through building but also through removal.  It shows, from various angles, the successive removal of the gate, and provides a subjective approach to city memory and oblivion that establishes a historic link between Valletta’s past and future.  ‘City Gate – a diary of demolition’ will be screened at 4, Sappers Street, Valletta between 2 and 16 March (Mon-Thu. 10am-4pm, Fri. 10am-1pm).




MDA is right.  Regeneration necessitates a proactive approach from all parts of government including MEPA.  There is a mistaken concept in the corridors of MEPA that regeneration will happen no matter how many obstacles one throws at it.  Wrong.  Excessive and unnecessary constraints kill off regeneration.  Derelict buildings combined with poor quality housing are key factors contributing to deprivation in some parts of Valletta.   A proactive approach is needed to transform places and communities for the better. (Comment from Valletta Alive Foundation.) 



New scheme will not solve problems of abandoned buildings in urban centres – MDA:  Although the government's newly announced scheme, granting financial assistance to property owners who carry out rehabilitation works on scheduled properties or in urban conservation areas, is a positive one, it will not solve the problem of abandoned buildings in urban centres, the Malta Developers Association said.  In a statement, the MDA hoped the Government will face this problem in a holistic manner for the country to work seriously to its resolution. The MDA said it has been stressing for the introduction of incentives to encourage developers to invest in the rehabilitation of old homes in urban centres, including lowering tax duty on the sale of properties and the refunding of Mepa tariffs for works done in these places. There also needs to be a revision of Mepa policies so that the process leading to the issuing of the necessary permits for rehabilitation will be less bureaucratic and with more common sense. "It is only when the government looks at the problem from a wider perspective than that allowed by the scheme that was just announced that the country will manage to stop the damage to the environment and the country's architectural heritage that is being cause by these abandoned properties," the MDA said.

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The newly-launched scheme for restoration of buildings is a welcome initiative which will assist in the regeneration of Valletta and other historic centres.  €5 million of public funds will attract further millions of private funds towards the maintenance and restoration of historic buildings.  This is a start but it only scratches the surface as far as privately owned buildings in Valletta are concerned.  A more holistic approach is needed to facilitate investment and make life less difficult for those who wish to improve their property in Valletta.    (Comment from Valletta Alive Foundation.) 



Scheme for restoration of buildings launched :  The government yesterday launched a €5 million scheme for the restoration, conservation and maintenance of privately owned residential buildings within Urban Conservation Areas, and Grade 1 and Grade 2 buildings. This has the aim of promoting sustainable urban regeneration.

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Town and village cores: Regeneration and authenticity: The Editorial of the Independent comments on a €5 million scheme for the restoration, conservation and maintenance of private dwellings in urban conservation areas.

Valletta International Baroque Festival launched: The first edition of the Valletta International Baroque Festival, to be held at the Manoel Theatre in January next year, was officially launched.  The artistic director Kenneth Zammit Tabona said  "Valletta is a city built at the height of the baroque period and therefore we felt that a baroque festival hosted inside one of the oldest and most prestigious baroque theatres in Europe as well as a number of other baroque venues in our capital city would be the best way to host these events. Besides Teatru Manoel, a number of other venues have been identified for this festival such as the President's Palace, St John's Co-Cathedral, the Jesuit Church, the Auberge de Provence and the chapel of Santa Caterina d'Italia amongst others.”

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Enthusiast immortalises Malta Carnival

TRULY A COMMENDABLE INITIATIVE:  “Some five hundred Carnival festivals have come and gone, a few still enshrined in people’s minds and many others completely forgotten.  Lorry Coleiro is trying to make sure that more of these festivals are remembered and the island’s first carnival museum, which he pioneered, should open its doors by April.  Mr Coleiro has been dreaming about the project for years, saving up enough props and money to be able to give life to his vision. The break only came about in 2007 when he was approached by Viset management and offered space in their waterfront complex.  Since then, he has been working tirelessly on the project for 12 hours a day and transformed a previously mould-infested storeroom into a colourful gallery, immortalising the island’s carnival heritage ‘before it dies for real.’ ”

Renovation for Saluting Battery

The Saluting Battery in Valletta will be closed until April 30 to make way for ongoing renovation works.  Closing the gardens will not affect the firing of the daily noon gun, according to Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna, which manages the place. The project forms part of the opening of Malta’s first Military Heritage Park

Comments on City Gate project

The following is an excerpt of the opinion piece by Mark-Anthony Falzon: 

 “I’ve been an enthusiastic supporter of the Renzo Piano project from day one. For three reasons. First, because ‘City Gate’ as we shudder to remember it was wrist-slittingly ugly and cried out for some sort of radical surgery.  Second, because I like the way the whole thing was assigned to Piano. My premise is that risk is intrinsic to most known notions of art. Architecture is inevitably a gamble and there’s always a chance that architects, no matter how glamorous and tall and bearded, will get it wrong.  But I’d much rather take my chances on Piano than stake it safe on some mediocre journeyman. He gets it wrong, we’re faced with a monumental moan and an eventual demolition job. (In any case we happen to be good at the latter, as Sliema reminds us.) He gets it right, we’re left with a gem that will take its place among the best spaces in the city. Third, because I think it’s wrong, improper, and neo-colonialist that Parliament should be relegated to an apartment in the presidential palace. If they give us a good building in a prominent place, the I-don’t-care-how-many-millions will be the best tax money we’ve ever paid. Parliament, the institution that most neatly overlaps with the notion of an autonomous people, deserves no less and nowhere else.”



Bravo; bravo

Editorial:   If public outcry is loud enough, and an issue is grotesque enough, then action is swiftly taken. One such instance came to a favourable ‘conclusion’ yesterday. The government issued a press release to announce that most of the horrific extension to the Law Courts in Valletta is to be dismantled and brought in line with other adjacent structures.

Valletta tunnel proposal – 17 years ago

In a letter to the editor,  André Zammit notes with satisfaction the new access point to Valletta being provided from a sally gate in the Main Ditch up to the area known as Hastings and that travelators (people movers) would be used for the ramps.  In 1995, Perit Zammit had proposed a comprehensive scheme of underground tunnels, equipped with travelators connecting different locations in Valletta, but it was not really taken seriously.



Ignoring the British legacy

In a letter to the editor, Denis A. Darmanin, calls for the restoration of the British military murals within the former Main Guard in Valletta. These murals, which in their own way recall and depict the lineage of many British and colonial regiments while in Malta either in a heraldic mode or at times by just a caricature, have suffered much throughout the years.

Maltese stone, ‘Spanish’ steps

The foundations are being laid for the “grand” staircases at the entrance to the capital, from Republic to Pope Pius V street, which are “similar to Rome’s Spanish Steps”. On the other end of Renzo Piano’s City Gate project, meticulous and sensitive excavation under the whole of Ordnance and Victory Streets, which surround the Old Opera House, has opened up the space for the theatre’s backstage facilities.

The misdeeds of the Grandmasters

Deeds are boring whereas misdeeds are anything but and what he was going to tell, he said, was based on gossip, slander, spite – a sort of News of the World as it could have been issued 250 years back. Noel Grima reports on a talk delivered by Judge Giovanni Bonello in the Throne Room of the Palace of the Grand Masters.

Historic palace transformed into luxury boutique accommodation


A Vittoriosa palace dating back to the Knights’ early years in Malta has been painstakingly converted into luxury boutique accommodation, arguably the first of its kind in the country.   People with an interest in Valletta should take note even if the new boutique hotel is not in Valletta.   Similar boutique hotels could be developed in Valletta with imagination and initiative.


Taking it back to its former glory

Internal restoration works are being carried out at the national library, following the extensive external restoration works carried out in the past years.

DLH appeal for funds for €2m restoration of historic church

Din l-Art Helwa has launched an appeal for funds to assist in the €2m rehabilitation of Our Lady of Victories Church in Valletta. The Church was the first building erected in Valletta and was also the first resting place of Grand Master De Valette in 1568.   Donations to the Church will help finance the conservation of the ceiling paintings, restore the ground floor walls and uncover any existing murals on the perimeter, treat the infested woodwork and stop decay to monuments and altars. The project will also involve the restoration of the 18th century organ, endow the crypt with a dignified entrance to mark the first burial place of Grand Master de Valette and create interpretation schemes and a small museum to display its works of art.

Order: Chaos at City Gate


The editorial of the Independent comments on the situation at City Gate.  Not only were the seven kiosks there built far later than they were meant to, but also they have not been consigned to those who will man them.  Now that the entrance to Valletta has been narrowed, people entering Valletta are jostled, obstructed and accosted by mobile phone commission agents, sellers of things as diverse as shoes and bread, collectors of signatures against development projects et al.


Government requests solution to Valletta eyesore


Following strong criticism aimed at the new court extension in Valletta, because it is an eyesore, the government has instructed the Director General of Courts of Justice and MEPA to discuss the matter and find a solution.    With regard to criticism that there is no height protection policy for Valletta and Floriana, which it says are the most important areas for such a policy to be in place, the ministries explained that such an assertion was “incorrect”.     “With regard to height protection in Valletta, it must be noted that in view of the particular urban morphology of Valletta, similar (to that of) Floriana and the three cities, the Local Plan adopts a criteria-based approach and sets out eight criteria on the basis of which applications for development, which include changes to existing building heights, should be assessed,” the ministries said. “These include impacts on the streetscape, roofscape, skyline, building mass and background buildings”.    It therefore cannot be said that height protection for Valletta and Floriana does not exist.

History repeating itself at City Gate


When, some 50 years ago, a new bus terminus was created at City Gate, the new cement and glass kiosks that were provided soon found use as public toilets and were fairly soon pulled down, except for a few. History seems to be repeating itself at the new bus terminus.

GRTU satisfied with Valletta tunnel


The small enterprises chamber, the GRTU, expressed satisfaction at the planned opening of a tunnel which is to be re-opened for public use, linking the Valletta ditch with the city’s centre.

 ‘Solution’ sought to government’s Valletta eyesore

The justice ministry wants to find a solution to the new eight-storey building in Valletta that has been slammed as a sacrilege to the skyline.  The director general of the law courts has been instructed to “discuss” the issue with the planning authority and “identify solutions”.   The building, which is intended to house the judiciary’s chambers and the family court, towers over the neighbouring structures by at least three storeys of limestone and cement blocks.

 ‘Secret passage’ will ease access into Valletta

A little-known sally port hidden deep in the Valletta ditch will start being used as pedestrian access to the city, generations after it was blocked. The sally port is located at the foot of St Michael counterguard, half-way along the ditch that leads to the area below City Gate from Marsamxett.

Valletta’s bid for the European Capital of Culture passes the pre-selection stage

Valletta’s (V18) bid for the title of European Capital of Culture (ECOC) has passed the pre-selection stage following the first meeting of the Evaluation Panel. The Chairman of the Evaluation Panel, Mr Gaulhofer, explained that even though there was one bid presented for the ECOC project in Malta, the panel will have to implement the normal procedures to ensure that the bid satisfies the European Commission’s criteria. He stated that the Evaluation Panel was pleased with the Valletta V18 bid and is confident that Valletta will be able to deliver a successful ECOC project.


Valletta 2018: From bid to beyond

In this opinion piece, David Felice, president of Valletta 2018 Foundation talks about Valletta’s bid for 2018 European Capital of Culture.   The EU pre-selection evaluation panel’s visited Malta on January 18.  The bid, lodged officially last October, was a massive undertaking; the result of an intense series of consultations, public workshops and the compilation of the bid book.  The website, is there to receive, help develop and showcase ideas from the public .

New car park

In this letter to the editor, Zminijietna comments about the proposed new car park at Floriana and calls on the authorities to implement a national plan to better promote the use of public transport,


Car park to replace Floriana stands

The spectator stands alongside the Floriana football pitch will be transformed into an open-air car park if the planning authority approves the project on Friday.  The project by the Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation, a government entity, is expected to level the stepped area along the Mall and transform it into a car park.



Britons look for brothers they met at palace of light

A British couple, who escorted two Maltese boys into the Valletta luminarium in November are trying to track them down to give them a photo album of the colourful occasion.

Panel of evaluators for Malta’s European Capital of Culture bid


The Ministry for Tourism, Culture and the Environment announced the names of the panel of evaluators who will be assessing Malta’s bid for the title of European Capital of Culture for 2018.  A selection panel of 13 members is set up to assess the applications of cities bidding for the title. Seven of the panel members are nominated by the European institutions, and six are nominated by Malta.  The panel will convene for a pre-selection meeting next week in Malta to assess the application presented by the candidate city of Valletta.



Restoration work in Valletta

Article published on 13 January 2012


Restoration work is being undertaken on the Siege Bell Memorial in Valletta, which was dedicated in 1992 by Queen Elizabeth and President Censu Tabone to mark the 50th anniversary of the award of the George Cross to Malta. This year is the award’s 70th anniversary.



Merchants Street outside tables to get umbrellas


The Mepa board yesterday settled the controversy about the new octagonal outside tables that have been installed in Merchants Street, Valletta, and allowed umbrellas over each unit to allow clients some shade from the sun.

Bill to improve term of lease of Valletta businesses to be discussed in Parliament

There are close to 600 Valletta businesses in public property and most premises are on lease for six month periods. This makes it difficult for them to invest because banks do not lend them money.  A Bill to this effect has been approved by the Cabinet and should be discussed in Parliament soon.

Recalling Cesare Catania in creative Strait Street

If developed as performing spaces, the sites in Strait Street would also allow a stronger development of the educational courses at tertiary level.   Fr Peter Serracino Inglott puts forward his views about the rehabilitation of the area and turning it into a  creative clusters.

Shop owners urged to postpone post-Christmas sales till after New Year’s Day

Businessman Tonio Camilleri yesterday called on shop owners to start postponing their post-Christmas sales till the beginning of January.  Mr Camilleri, on behalf of the Merchants Street, Valletta, business community feels that many times businesses shoot themselves in the foot by starting their sales right after Christmas, usually on Boxing Day.


Regeneration of Valletta

In this letter to the editor, Sandro Rossi writes about the sad state of Biccereija in Valletta and welcomes the rehabilitation project which is to be carried out in the coming months.



The tapestries at the Palace

There is an awful lot of misinformation about the tapestries in the Grand Master’s Palace in Valletta.  Claire Bonavia gave a lecture on the tapestries in the Palace as part of the series Rediscovering the Grand Master’s Palace.  The next talk will be on Monday, 30 January at 6pm, Judge Giovanni Bonello will speak about Deeds and Misdeeds at the Palace.

Malta welcomes 2012

Thousands of people gathered in Valletta and Floriana this evening to welcome 2012.

If music be the food of love, play on...

The Splendid Lodging House in Strait Street, Valletta, came alive to the sound of music in September as top “old time” musicians assembled there for a photo shoot. The end result was Living Legends, Bank of Valletta’s tribute calendar to some of the island’s most renowned musicians.  Award winning photographer Joe P. Smith was entrusted with the photography.

Inauguration of Migration Museum


The initial phase of the Digital Migration Museum was inaugurated at Dar l-Emigrant, in Valletta. The museum is being set up by the Emigrants’ Commission.

Source of the fountain

The Triton Fountain at Valletta’s City Gate square may appear to be functioning from the outside but the underlying passageways, with their old fittings and makeshift repairs, are in need of drastic work.   The worst damage the fountain suffered was in 1978, when the plate at the top collapsed and broke the statues

Indications that sea transport will increase

A call for tenders for an eight-year contract to provide a scheduled ferry service across Grand Harbour and between Sliema and Marsamxett against a maximum fee of €1.50 has been issued.


New Valletta community radio launched

Radio City 107.6 FM was inaugurated on December 8 by Valletta mayor Alexiei Dingli and Fr Richard Falzon during a brief ceremony attended by the station’s presenters, various guests and members of the press.    The radio station’s premises in West Street has been kindly provided by the Carmelites.

Call for tenders for harbour ferry services issued

Transport Malta has launched a call for tenders for the operation of ferry services between Sliema and Marsamxett in Valletta and between Valletta and the inner part of Dockyard Creek in Cospicua.  The authority said the services were aimed at reducing the level of land traffic, its associated costs and environmental impact, by increasing the availability and accessibility of alternative means of transport.

Scandal of the empty car park drivers can’t afford

The park-and-ride site in Blata l-Bajda can take 200 cars but, on most days, only a few cars can be seen there by the time everyone should be settled at their desks.  The Arriva parking lot is a desert while workers in the area are thirsty for parking spaces. However, they prefer to park further away from their offices or drive around until they stumble upon a vacant space rather than pay the “prohibitive” rates.

Old abattoir building to go to voluntary sector

The old abattoir building in Valletta will be given to the voluntary organisations’ council to administer it as a syndicate house by new NGOs or voluntary organisations which do not have their own premises. The old abattoir, which is to be restored, is situated right behind the Auberge de Baviere, and comprises two levels which can be accessed via a pedestrian area that can be used for outdoor activities. The lower level will be turned into an area for creative initiatives such as exhibitions and gigs while the second floor will be transformed into office space and common areas for NGOs.

Old slaughterhouse to become Centre for Volunteers

The old slaughterhouse, referred to as il-Biccerija,  is being transformed into a centre for use by Maltese voluntary organisations. It is situated right behind the Auberge de Baviere in Valletta.  The building will be passed on to the National Voluntary Council to be used by organisations which did not have premises.



National Awards conferred to cross-section of society

Heartfelt congratulations from the Chairman and the Board of Governors to Mr. Carmelo Camillleri upon being made Member of the National Order of Merit.    The National Awards were conferred by President George Abela at the Palace on Republic Day.   Mr Camilleri was a Governor of Valletta Alive Foundation from 2004 to 2008.



Big blocks for Valletta’s City Gate are being cut now

 The big blocks of stone required for the entrance to Valletta are in the process of being cut in a special way in a Gozo quarry, this paper is informed.   According to Renzo Piano’s plan, these big blocks will plug the parts of the bastions that were hacked away in the 1960s in order to accommodate the much wider City Gate that was created then.

Tritons Fountain ‘too damaged’ to be moved

 The government has finally bowed to public opinion and to the hard facts of the matter and has now decided that the Tritons Fountain at City Gate will not be moved, given its very fragile and damaged state.

Tritons back to glory

Plans to shift the Triton Fountain, outside City Gate, in Valletta, to Floriana have been abandoned because it needs a €2 million restoration job that will take an estimated two years to complete.  This means Renzo Piano’s plans for the square outside the capital’s new entrance were revisited to incorporate the fountain in the upgrading project, which will include paving an area of 12,000 square metres.



Work on St Paul Street set for summer 2012

Work on the upper part of St Paul Street, one of Valletta’s two main traffic arteries, was due to start in summer and to be completed by mid-August, Valletta mayor Alexei Dingli said.

The resurfacing of the lower, more residential part of the road was completed by mid-November. The parking lot markings and the laying down of cat eyes was only finished yesterday, following tarmac tests.



Preti comes alive in Valletta

One of Valletta’s finest architectural gems has been restored to its former glory, 13 years after plaster and pieces of stone fell from the main dome.   Located adjacent to Auberge d’Italie, Santa Caterina d’Italia was where Italian Baroque artist Mattia Preti learnt the rare technique of painting directly on the wall.



Valletta Living History student drawing exhibition


Between 8 and 24 December, Valletta Living History will be organising an exhibition of all the participants who submitted their works for the nationwide drawing competition that was organised for students between six and 12 years of age.



Preti comes alive in Valletta

One of Valletta’s finest architectural gems has been restored to its former glory, 13 years after plaster and pieces of stone fell from the main dome.   Located adjacent to Auberge d’Italie, Santa Caterina d’Italia was where Italian Baroque artist Mattia Preti learnt the rare technique of painting directly on the wall.



Valletta Living History student drawing exhibition

Between 8 and 24 December, Valletta Living History will be organising an exhibition of all the participants who submitted their works for the nationwide drawing competition that was organised for students between six and 12 years of age.


Original plans of Valletta to be put on display

The plans are to be put on display in the new inter-active centre on the fortifications, which will be housed in the newly re-built/restored Biagio Steps in Valletta.



Free Valletta parking after 3.30 p.m.

Cars parked in Valletta after 3.30 p.m. are being exempt from CVA payment during December up to the 24th .



Art and history on the move - Kenneth Zammit Tabona

Valletta is a unique city.  Because of its particular character, it has been anything but easy to adapt to the exigencies of being a modern capital city. Kenneth Zammit Tabona  discusses various issues relating ot art and culture in Valletta.



Valletta gets back its jewel

A press conference and a concelebrated Mass in the evening were the rather low-key celebrations that marked Valletta getting back a long-neglected jewel in its crown: the church of Santa Caterina d’Italia.



Palatial light

An inflatable walk-through palace of light and colour has been set up in St George’s Square, Valletta, for Luminarja, a project by Architects of Air.   The palace is one of the highlights of Żigużajg, the week-long programme of performing arts for children.



Valletta’s filthy buildings - Fr Mark Cauchi OSA,

This letter to the editor notes several eyesores in Valletta’s main streets. 



The Times, 1 November 2011

Valletta invites more ideas in a ‘first’ for e-democracy

An innovative method in consultation

Comments and suggestions on the Valletta branding report, published some weeks ago, are being welcomed by the local council on its own Wiki – a website that presents content while allowing interested parties to collaborate and contribute by suggesting changes and freely editing pages.



If it’s good, people will go there

Daphne Caruana Galizia argues that there are reasons other than parking for the loss of business in Valletta.



Rediscovering the Grand Master’s Palace

 A number of lectures regarding the Grand Master’s Palace are being given to the general public. Lectures will be held on the last Monday of every month.



‘Valletta, Heritage, Climate and Identity: Valletta from Renaissance to Renzo Piano’

 In association with the Embassy of Malta in Brussels, the renowned Sint-Lucas-Architecture-Institute of Ghent in Belgium organised a lecture entitled ‘Valletta, Heritage, Climate, Identity: Valletta from Renaissance to Renzo Piano’. The lecture was given by Architect Konrad Buhagiar.



European Capital of Culture 2018: Valletta bid presented

 The bid was submitted to the European Commission yesterday.    Although Valletta is seeking to serve as the Capital of Culture, this bid is supported by all the other local councils, which are voluntarily lending it their support and which will also be represented by Valletta, as activities will not be restricted to the capital city.



V.18 rekindles the heritage of exchange

David Felice writes about the application for Valletta to become a European Capital of Culture in 2018.


Each locality to have direct bus route to Valletta, Mater Dei

Each locality is to have a direct line to Mater Dei and to Valletta as from November 6, Transport Minister Austin Gatt said this morning.  The old bus system had operated on a hub and spoke system while the new system had been based on interchanges.  As of November 6, there will be a mix of the two.

Newly restored courtyard hosts competing art works

An array of 111 works are on show in Valletta in the 10th National Art Competition and Exhibition organised by the Malta Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.



75 attractions in one night

The usually quiet evening streets of Valletta were turned into a vibrant festival of the arts, history and culture on Saturday, as Notte Bianca went through its sixth edition.

The capital’s streets and buildings were illuminated especially for the occasion, with 75 attractions and places of interest to choose from and about 500 people taking part.



Branding the bland - Claire Bonello

Another year, another branding exercise. This time it’s Valletta’s turn to get the marketing make-over.



Notte Bianca draws the crowds

A heaving crowd filled Malta's capital this evening to partake in the sixth edition of Notte Bianca.   Families queued at popular venues including outside the Royal Opera House, where they could see the progress on the new theatre and watch theatrical performances.



Council plans ‘discover Valletta’ commercial branch

It took almost three years and over €19,000 for a consulting services company to devise a marketing plan for the city and point out it needs to be revived.  The study, commissioned by the Valletta local council was launched yesterday and concluded Valletta needed “rejuvenation and refurbishment”.


Works start on Valletta footbridge

Works began yesterday on the installation of a €2.8 million footbridge linking both sides of the St Elmo breakwater off Valletta


The Malta Independent, 22 September 2011

Tender for St Elmo’s restoration issued, but government still waiting ERDF funding

GHRC  has issued a tender for the first restoration phase on the deteriorating Fort St Elmo in Valletta.


Manure on the streets of Valletta – Andre Borg

This letter to the editor notes the urgent need to enact by-laws that would oblige horse-cabs circulating Valletta to be equipped with manure-collecting bags.  This would spare our roads from endless faeces and stink not fit for a capital city. This practice has long been in force in respectable cities such as Vienna, whereas in Prague, the horse-cab driver cleans up each time his horse dumps.


A city of shopkeepers  - Mark-Anthony Falzon                                  

The opinionist takes a nostalgic look at Valletta shops of days gone by .


The Malta Independent, 17  September 2011

Renzo Piano Valletta project: City Gate steps necessitate removal of banquettes

Parts of the banquettes on either side of City Gate are now about to be removed, as a result of the Renzo Piano project. This was approved by the MEPA board at its meeting last Thursday.


People first in heritage conservation – John Ebejer

It is people we are talking about. It is people who are being inconvenienced, some more than others, because there is no proper parking provision at the lower end of Valletta. In this contest, it is absurd for my colleague to argue that the Evans site should not be redeveloped because of some presumed importance of some building remains that may or may not exist


Works on Valletta lift start

Workers have started laying the foundations of the new lift to the Upper Barrakka in Valletta.   Chris Paris, CEO of the Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation, said excavations started three weeks ago. Workers today started pouring the concrete of the foundations for the free standing lift which will be 53 metres high.  The lift will consist of two cabins, each with a capacity of 21 passengers.   The project, costing €2.5m, will be completed by the end of next year. It is co-funded by the EU.


The Malta Independent, 9 August  2011

Works on St Paul Street will start at the bottom end

Works of the St Paul Street regeneration will affect only the lower part of Valetta in the first phase so traffic circulation will not be affected.  The Valletta local council held further meetings with the GRTU in order to ensure that the upgrading of St Paul’s Street takes place with the least impact to residents, to the business community and to the visitors of the city.


The Malta Independent, 1 July 2011

Arriva launch Valletta City Circular Service

Arriva and the Transport Ministry yesterday unveiled the Valletta City Circular service or route 133, which for the first time will provide bus services within Valletta from this Sunday.  The route is intended to make it easier for Valletta based workers, residents and tourists to travel around the city. It will be served by a specially designed minibus which runs on electricity.


The Malta Independent, 22 June  2011

Great expectations for European Capital of Culture 2018

Valletta 2018 is not only about a programme of events that will take place in 2018, but it is about putting those events in a larger, more long-term context.  A new entity has been set up to devise and implement the vision and strategy of Malta’s European Capital of Culture (ECoC) 2018 bid, for which there are great expectations


The Malta Independent, 9 June  2011

European Capital of Culture bid – ‘Valletta 2018’

The public is being invited to join cultural stakeholders at ‘Imagine 18’, a conference on 20-21 June aimed at helping shape Valletta’s bid to become a European Capital of Culture (ECoC) in 2018. The conference is being organised by the Valletta 2018 Foundation, a new entity charged with formulating and implementing Malta’s vision and strategy as an ECoC.


A ‘humble’ ambassador for Valletta

Cliff Richard was yesterday appointed a cultural ambassador for Valletta as Malta embraced the star.


Capital of Culture: a year to be savoured - Lord Mike Storey

In a letter to the editor the former leader of Liverpool city council wishes the city of Valletta every success for 2018.   He describes the Liverpool experience of 2008 as one of the best years of his life. It was a year in which the city of Liverpool was transformed physically, culturally and economically.


The experience of living in Valletta - Paul Edgar Micallef

In this letter to the Editor, a resident of Valletta writes about the difficulties of living in Valletta.


Celebration time as champions end season unbeaten

Valletta are celebrating their title success this afternoon, having ended the season unbeaten after a   2-2 draw with Tarxien Rainbows in their final league match.

After securing the title with three games to spare, Valletta were finally presented with the BOV Premier League trophy much to the delight of their ecstatic fans who turned up in their thousands at Ta' Qali.


Eliminating monsters -  I.M. Beck

I.M. Beck comments on the latest developments in Valletta including the proposed relocation of the Triton Fountain.


City Gate bites the dust

The last strands of steel that formed the roof of City Gate’s central entrance were yesterday torn away by large mechanical claws, as demolition works continued on the Valletta landmark.


The Malta Independent, 3 May 2011

City Gate demolition works start

Workers, shoppers and tourists yesterday morning had to make their way through the tunnel on the right-hand side of the bus terminus which leads to the Central Bank extension or up Ġlormu Cassar Avenue to Castille Place as works to demolish City Gate started.


The Malta Indpendent on Sunday, 1 May 2011

A sense of emptiness at City Gate - Noel Grima

When the Renzo Piano design for City Gate, the new Parliament building and the Opera House site was revealed, it was done in a blaze of publicity: But when it came to revealing what will happen to the area outside City Gate, there was none of the razzmatazz of the previous announcement.  Noel Grima comments on the City Gate and the proposals for the Triton Fountain.


The Malta Indpendent on Sunday, 1 May 2011

Significant changes to City Gate Traffic Impact Statement

As commuters begin, from today, the long slog through the bastions and tunnels up to Castille Place by way of the Central Bank Annexe while City Gate is being pulled down, few have realised that some significant proposals made in the Traffic Impact Statement (TIS) done for the City Gate project have been quietly shelved or even dropped.


The Malta Indpendent on Sunday, 1 May 2011

Renzo Piano’s studio explains why the Tritons are being moved

The present project for the re-organisation of the transport system reverses the Modernist obsession with progress at the expense of preservation. It aims at providing an efficient and comfortable transport system that is sustainable, as invisible as possible, and one that minimizes the deleterious effects of pollution.,   29 April 2011

Valletta residents present own traffic proposals

Residents who live near Hastings and in Pope Pius V Street, Valletta this afternoon held a symbolic protest against the traffic arrangements being made and presented their own proposals.


Outside City Gate: Now and in the future

The ministry also published a commentary by the architect's studio about the recommendation to move the fountain by less than 50 meters as part of the effort to restore the architectural and historical context of the entrance to the fortified city.


Artist’s Impression: Tritons Fountain to be moved

The Tritons Fountain, the Vincent Apap landmark that served as a meeting point for thousands of first dates for decades, is to be moved from opposite City Gate closer to the Phoenicia Hotel


Traffic arrangements for fireworks festival over Grand Harbour

New traffic arrangements will be in place this weekend for the Malta International Fireworks Festival over Grand Harbour.


Valletta champions

Valletta are new football champions of Malta.   Valletta gained three points this evening as they beat Marsaxlokk 1-0 to race into an unassailable 12-point lead at the top.


Malta Independent, 23 April, 2011

Illogical traffic management in Valletta - Dr André Borg
Letter to the Editor:  Valletta residents have just received a traffic direction map outlining the changes in traffic flow following the demolition of City Gate. Residents living in the north-western part of the capital are in for a hard time, with a couple of thousand cars a day fuming their way through a residential core.

Let Valletta retain its characteristics -  Simone Mizzi

With European funding now available for the enhancement of cultural assets that further tourism, the city is seen as an investment opportunity, especially on its perimeter which enjoys unique views all round.  Din l-Art Ħelwa strongly believe that before further developments are approved piecemeal, there must be an overall vision for Valletta, which will determine the city’s retention of its world heritage status as the best existing example of a 16th century fortified city whose fortifications are second to none in the world.

New Valletta permanent traffic route announced

City Gate will start to be dismantled on May 1, when the new permanent traffic route for Valletta will start to be used.

Round and round the city of Valletta - Paul Mifsud

Last Saturday, I went to see a play at the Manoel Theatre starting at 7.30 p.m.

Knowing how difficult it is to find a parking place in Valletta I decided to go early. By 6.45 p.m. I had dropped my wife near the theatre and went to park my car.   It took me more than half an hour, driving along the streets at the lower end of Valletta, looking for a parking space.

City Gate project ‘on track and within budget’

The Valletta City Gate project is “on track and within budget” said Infrastructure, Transport and Communications Minister Austin Gatt yesterday.  So far, some €10 million has been spent, while the entire project is expected to cost some €80 million.        

Street furniture would inject more life into Valletta - MHRA

The planning authority approved an application that will eventually allow street furniture to be placed in the centre of parts of Merchant Street, Valletta.  The initiative taken by various entities in Valletta to allow catering outlets in Merchants Street to place tables and chairs in the central part of the street has been welcomed by the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association. The initiative, it said in a statement, would contribute to inject more ‘life’ into Valletta.

Local council takes aim at Valletta pigeons

Valletta’s pigeons are facing hard times as a new by-law issued by the local council targets a reduction in the population of these pesky birds.



Restoration works deserving of honours – Paul Borg

MARCH 2011


Valletta blooming

St George’s Square in Valletta was a stage for dance and flowers yesterday morning in an activity organised by the Valletta local council to mark the official start of Spring today.


The Independent, 10 March 2011

City Gate project loses the belvedere

MEPA approves amendments to the design of the City gate project.  The belveder over City Gate has been removed.


An eyesore and dangerous

Derelict buildings in Valletta are not only an eyesore but a health hazard as a resident in St Dominic Street found out, having to dodge falling glass panes.





Bid to secure EU regional funds for emergency works in Fort St Elmo

Minister Austin Gatt announces project for Fort St. Elmo – a project which he describes  as “a major challenge” that involved a long process.  The idea was not just to restore St Elmo but also to keep it “alive from morning to night”.


Fr Peter’s Perspective - Vivat St Elmo!

In this interview, Fr. Peter comments on the Development Brief for Fort St. Elmo & Environs which was issued recently.


Plans for the transformation of Fort St Elmo raise hopes

Following the issue of the draft development brief by MEPA in the previous week, various groups comment on the prospects for the Fort.


The Independent,  17 February 2011

Biagio Steps: Presenting the past in a modern manner

Works at the Biagio Steps will see the opening of an Interactive Fortifications Centre.  According to Minister George Pullicino works should be finished towards the end of the year or the beginning of 2012, are part of dovetailing of initiatives in Valletta, Mr Pullicino said.


Plans to turn Fort St Elmo into a major tourist venue

The planning authority has launched a 6-six week public consultation following a review it carried out on the 1997 draft development brief for the rehabilitation of Fort St Elmo and its environs.  The reviewed brief takes into account the new government policy initiatives for the urban regeneration of Valletta and will serve as a proposed framework for future rehabilitation plans.


Old 'cipher block' demolished

The former military services 'cipher block' located in the ditch below Glormu Cassar Avenue in Valletta, close to the entrance to the War Rooms was demolished today.


Good news for our city - Mark-Anthony Falzon

In this opinion piece,  Dr. Falzon  writes about the City and the implications of European Cultural Capital of 2018.


City restored to its former glory - David Casa

Railings permit to inject new life to Merchants Street

Shoppers in Valletta may soon be able to sip a coffee or have lunch on Merchants’ Street after the planning authority approved an application to install railings that will fence off street furniture.    Tables and chairs will be closed off by the railings that will be located in the centre of the street so shoppers can pass through passageways on either side.



‘Unique’ manuscripts donated by Albert Ganado to Heritage Malta

Fire for St Elmo

Local council takes aim at Valletta pigeons

New terminus trees



City Gate project loses the belvedere

Kiosk workers uncertain of their future

Parking in Valletta and waning business

Update 3 - Superintendence clarifies FAA statement on Casa Lanfreducci

Valletta becomes another silent capital

Vendors, customers complain about the new Monti venue

Aragon chapel at St John’s gets a facelift



Carnival enclosure to be set up at Valletta bus terminus

Cipher building makes way for Barrakka lift

New traffic arrangements in Floriana because of terminus works

Sunday 'Monti' moving to Park and Ride area

Valletta reshaping

Works on Valletta bus terminus commence

Work on fortifications interactive centre ‘on track’

Restoration works unearth old cannon balls

Plans to turn Fort St Elmo into a major tourist venue

Difficulty of parking in Valletta at night (1)

Biagio Steps - Presenting the past in a modern manner

A planning system suited for Malta

Does Malta need a second Silent City

From Blood Rock to Barriera Wharf

Paris chancery is the government’s costliest lease

Plans for the transformation of Fort St Elmo raise hopes

Restoration of Fort St Elmo depends on ERDF funds

'We do not need a second silent city'

January 2011

Beauty of ancient, threatened, basement revealed

Bones still at Valletta basement, government insists

Changes to new Parliament House approved

Human remains at Casa Lanfreducci

Knights' burial place to be linked to Piano’s theatre

Localities unite behind Valletta in cultural capital bid

Louvers for new Parliament building

Organisers seek details on ‘huge’ Valletta carnival

Outdoor NYE celebrations successful

Preti’s St James gets a new lease of life

Saluting battery cannon are silenced... for a while

Valletta’s Casa Lanfreducci is no burial ground, says ministry

Valletta’s lion to flutter up above

When nature calls

December 2010

A cash cow that ran dry

A Lighter Load

Spotlight on Valletta’s covered market

Strait Street - Valletta’s cash cow which has run dry

Valletta shopping declines due to parking problems

Mepa’s Audit Office – What’s next

November 2010

Free parking in Valletta on December afternoons

Historical and rare books rescued

Interview - Restoring Malta’s historical heritage

Main Guard to be handed over to Valletta council

Maltese heroes remembered

Parts of Valletta rotting away

Renzo Piano's designs for Valletta cost €6.6 million

Valletta - ‘Genius Loci’

October 2010

City Gate to be demolished in March

Freedom Square arcades come crumbling down

Mepa approves Valletta bus terminus move

Pauline history, culture and faith

The final countdown

Valletta organisations insist MPs’ parking area be temporary

Work at City Gate starts in earnest

September 2010

Vandals strike at newly restored Victoria Gate

Barrakka lift application to be decided on Thursday

Businesses to be kept better informed about Valletta works

Car ride to Valletta must have a cost

Great Siege monument gets overdue facelift

Hundreds cheer at first changing of the guard ceremony in 39 years

MPs’ cars take over pedestrian zone

Palace Square to witness Changing of the Guard

Park and ride fee possible

Projects for 1,500 more parking spaces around Valletta

Restored Great Siege monument unveiled

Street names, inscriptions worth restoring

Valletta cooling fountains

Valletta firms want business as usual during revamp works

August 2010

No move yet for carnival float makers
School of music administration to identify new base

Lascaris quay to be extended
Works to restore Auberge de Castille
Great Siege Monument to undergo maintenance
It’s August._. and ‘poor horses’ are still waiting

July 2010

Six Valletta and Floriana junctions to be rebuilt
Verdala Palace painted wooden ceilings being restored
Restoration of Auberge de Castille's façade starts

June 2010

Medieval makes way for modern in Valletta
Restoration works on historic fortifications well underway
Valletta desperately needs a multi-storey car park
Victoria Gate area restoration well under way
‘Valletta faces a painful death unless it solves its parking problem’
€2 million restoration work on Fort St Angelo
1680 engraving of Valletta

Talking Point Times June 2010

May 2010

Hundreds of boats blot Grand Harbour
Valletta hits rock bottom in culture, survey shows
Bastions being bolstered
Missed opportunity for a car park
Victoria Gate revealed after restoration
The courts go green

April 2010

Design of Barrakka lift runs into problems
Freedom Square gets new pavement
New Barrakka lift is long overdue
Pope Speaks
The City Gate spectacle
€2.7m spent on City Gate project so far
Business boost for Merchants Street after pedestrianisation
'Business in Merchants Street flourishes after pedestrianisation'
City Gate demolition to start in July or August
Experts meet in Malta to focus on preservation of historic cities

March 2010

Cameron Mackintosh backs Piano's project
City Gate arcades shops shut for good
City Gate outlets must be vacated by March 27
DLH drops out of rally after disagreements on Valletta project
Government urged to go ahead with City Gate project
'Judge me by the results'
Opera house selling price put at _16,310
Paving works postponed
Precious Calì works under attack
Valletta celebrates its foundation day
Legality now in Valletta
Aim to finish Valletta pedestrianisation project by December
Government defends its approach to Valletta status
Serracino-Inglott insists theatre without a roof is useless
The fortress builders
Valletta, Malta wins Best International Mediterranean Port Award

February 2010

128 artists petition PM against roofless theatre
Carnival organisers set June deadline
Recalling St Madaleine Ravelin, Valletta
Bus terminus at Valletta to make way for pedestrians
Interactive centre on fortifications
Restoration of Valletta's unique paving
Theatre ruin(ed) saga
To roof or not to roof
Valletta open-air theatre
New Valletta terminus design unveiled
Updated - Changes to the current Valletta Piano project
Piano meeting is no big deal – PM
PM meeting Piano today

Restoration starts on Valletta bastions
The history of Maltese emigration

January 2010

When magic alone is not enough
Works to start shortly on fortifications information centre
€84,997 spent on Palace square inauguration
Start of City Gate works delayed
PM, Piano to hold mystery meeting
Bastions restoration works start
Silver pieces donated to church
Form and function – the marriage of two styles
Valletta was built on agricultural land, archaeological evidence shows

December 2009

More than 1,000 objections to Piano plans - FAA
Square comes alive to music and history
St George’s square - the heart of our capital – PM
City Gate traffic impact study underway
Retailers hope for a happy Christmas

November 2009

Palace's Chinese vases valued at €28m
British coat of arms gets facelift
Avid art lover and internee finally gets due recognition
Two weeks to go for new Palace Square
Sette Giugno monument will not return to Palace Square
CVA costing _150,000 per month
Europe House Located In 17th Century Building
Opera House Ruins Foundations Being Tested
What if. Speculating on the outcome of the Valletta City Gate project

October 2009

Ye olde Valletta signage
Three in four buses will be driven out
The Maypole at St George's Square
Notte Bianca, again a success
Learning the lesson
EU-funded restoration of bastions to start soon
Answered prayers

CVA system under review in an attempt
Government plans for Valletta to be aired at Notte Bianca
How to improve the Piano project

September 2009

Modern Palace Square street furniture approved despite objections
Palace Square project 'on track'
Passion for a project
Anglu Xuereb proposes big Floriana car park
Government submits Valletta plans for approval
Proposal on Valletta parking
City Gate and the emperor's new clothes
Notte Bianca, bigger and better
Putting the interest of Valletta first

August 2009

Adequate structures for cab horses requested
Bastion line continuity essential for fortified city function - FAA
Developers react to UNESCO threat to revoke Valletta's world heritage status
Government was warned about Valletta situation years ago
Horse-drawn cab drivers insist on
Last cab out of Palace Square
No parking, no business
Residential parking - First things first
Solution to parking problems
St Catherine of Italy's church dome conceals two windows
Traditional baroque paved square
Unbroken promenade planned from Valletta
Valletta Alive welcomes Piano’s designs
Valletta Alive welcomes Piano's designs
Valletta local plan to be re-written for Piano
Valletta to lose 400 parking spots to
Valletta's protectors are us
War Museum to serve Victory Kitchen food

July 2009

Carnival participants accuse culture council of delaying tactics
Foundation set up to restore dome of St Dominic's Church in Valletta
Karozzini have to go, ADT insists
Malta is 'still not visible' to foreign investors
Piano had no written brief
Renzo Piano plans discussion highlights needs in arts field
Valletta's opera house project has been hijacked for Parliament
(Not) part of a Master Plan....
City Gate - 10 points, St George's Square - Zero
Compensation for shop owners at Freedom Square
Gateway to a city
'I will sing in Piano's opera-house development'
In Praise of Piano
Listening to the voice of the people
Valletta business community wants better access

June 2009

A magic city in a magic island
City by a gentleman
Giving Valletta its dignity back
Library wanted in proposed Piano Valletta projects
Valletta projects - The people have their say
St Publius enters Valletta
Piano unveils 25-year-old dream for Valletta
A new era finally dawns on Valletta
Costly tram service only possible with state subsidy
Renzo Piano's City Gate
Valletta square trees to be relocated

Malta in dire need of a national theatre - Joseph Calleja
Malta in dire need of a national theatre
Modernising St George's Square
Renzo Piano - Acclaimed by the world, shunned by Malta
Valletta square users' thumbs down to regeneration project

May 2009

Palace project launched
Mepa approves facelift for St George's Square
Plans for The Palace announced
Power to the pedestrians in St.George's Square
Turning a car park into the jewel of the city
Water installation at the heart of Palace Square embellishment

Taking the 'Maltese' out of Malta
Valletta - A New Beginning
Valletta War Museum reopens
Carnival Enthusiasts complain about relocation offer
Malta in dire need of a national theatre - Joseph Calleja
Personalities who lived in Strait Street, Valletta

April 2009

De Vilhena Lion given new lease of life
Opera in the balance
Pope appoints delegate for end of Pauline Year events in Malta
The Making of Fortresses.pdf
The tunnel beneath the square
Fort St Elmo is perfect for Parliament House
Palace Square Proposals
The Porta Reale-San Giorgio Bridge

March 2009

Foundation urges expeditious development
Parliament could be in Freedom Square
Barrakka lift back to square one
Co-cathedral enters another golden age
Is that the Opera House in the picture
March 2011 completion date for _2 million Barrakka lift
Restoration in Valletta
Valletta is 443 years old
Valletta Alive
A plan for Valletta-Floriana
Cupola of St Catherine's church to be restored
Palace Square car park plans shelved
The secrets of underground Valletta

Why are Valletta's piazzas dead
City Gate and Opera House site projects

February 2009

Progressing excavation works in St George's Square
studies may lead to review of plans for St George's Square
Sun adds colour to Carnival
Underground passageways discovered in Valletta
Government promises all necessary studies on underground passages
Plans to keep carnival afloat unveiled
Fort St Elmo regeneration project
St John's controversial extension dropped
An alternative site for Parliament
Breakwater bridge to be rebuilt
FAA insists experts did decide on St John's museum extension
Renzo Piano and the lightness of buildings
Fort Manoel restoration - a jewel waiting to shine

January 2009

More White Wagtails roosting in Valletta
National Library designated 'Palace of New Thinking'
Valletta entrance project about civic pride - Renzo Piano
Action plan on Fort St Elmo 'in the coming months'
Barrakka Gardens, war rooms to be turned into heritage park
Hail in Valletta
Muslim community in protest against Israeli onslaught
Renzo Piano due in Malta next month
Renzo Piano's 1989 City Gate project
Brief history of Palazzo Ferreria
Co-Cathedral extension
Environment group wants Parliament to move to MCC
Grand Master Nicholas Cottoner Restored

December 2008

World War One gun for display at Saluting Battery
Let's not miss the wood for the trees
Military Heritage Trail Launched
Opera House bomb site 'scandal'
Opera house live crib attracts 80,000 visitors
Switzerland in the Mediterranean
The Neapolitan version of the Nativity message
Turn the Opera House into a modern library
Bargain hunters prey on early sales

Rebirth of an icon
Regeneration of City Gate
Renzo Piano for City Gate
Shop owners welcome City Gate, Opera House decision
Strongest commitment towards Valletta
Repossession lower Fort St Elmo
Architects welcomes Piano appointment
Fort St Elmo restoration to complement Piano designs
Malta needs a proper opera house - Calleja
Old Putirjal bridge in the Piano design
Opera House controversy
Parliament to move to Opera House
Prints of Gobelin tapestries
Public Transport reform takes shape

November 2008

Towards the City's 450th Birthday
Sad state of Jesuit's Church

Grandmasters' armour on show in Paris
Graduates reunite for golden anniversary
Chichester is building links with another walled city
500,000th cruise passenger fêted
Valletta's changing skyline

St John's Museum plans

October 2008

Enforcement in Valletta Terminus
Freedom of Expression in Freedom Square
Notte Bianca's further success
Public Transform Reform
Regenerating our Cultural City
The Dilemma about Valletta
400 Offences in 90 Minutes
A New National Museum
Safeguarding Valletta's Skyline

Valletta, awake!
Valletta soon to be 450
Thousands visit Museums during Notte Bianca
Old Towns as Tourist Attractions

September 2008

Learning from the Past
Notte Bianca is Here Again
EU Funds for Fortifications
More Pedestrian Streets Added
Parking Scheme and EU Law
Pedestrian Zones Extended
Record Price for a Valletta Painting
Victory Church - Saved!

August 2008

St John's Co-Cathedral Museum Extension
Successful End to BOV Streets Alive
The Gate Triamphant
Views from Villa Bighi
BOV Streets Alive
Climbing for Beginners
Foundation asks for Terms of Reference
Map Collection at Heritage Malta
Projects for Valletta's Two Main Squares
Rehabilitating Valletta
Safeguarding St John's Treasures
Second Evening of BOV Streets Alive

July 2008

St John's Co-Cathedral Application
Tram line for 2015
All that Jazz
BOV Streets Alive launched
Donation of Maps to Museum
Entertainment at BOV Streets Alive
AFM Drill in Republic Street
My Vision of Valletta
Passport Office Moving
Public Transport Reform
St James Bastion

June 2008

Maritime Heritage Trail Launched
Malta Arts Festival 2008
Parking in Valletta
Increase in Housing Allocations
Fortification Upgrade
Fighting Congestion
Valletta - Capital of Prisoners
Melchiorre Cafà's Santa Caterina
Cannon Restored
Valletta CVA Recognised

May 2008

High-Tech Opera House
Opening of Parliament
Sciortino Plaster Casts on Display
Scout Centenary Year Parade
Sir Anthony Mamo dies at 99
State Funeral for 'People's President'
Students and Global Warming
The Evening Valletta was Bombed
A Seductive Strait Street
Crashing Entrance of 'Queen Victoria'

April 2008

CVA Bills in 11 Months
Lighting System ...
Holy Father's ...
Archbishop calls ...
Two Awards ...
The George Cross Association ...
Geoerge cross Commemoration ...
Remembering ...
Pinto ...
George Cross

March 2008

Young Enterprise
Antoine Favray
European Day

Pharoahs in Valletta
Valletta Fountain Working again
European Consumer Day
Notte Bianca in European Network
Valletta Waterfront Monument

February 2008

Children in Prison Protest
Door Knockers on Stamps
Grand Harbour Region according to Sant
Restoration of 17th Century Tapestry
Romance in the City
Single Mothers on State Relief
Benigni Honoured
The Magisterial Palace
Valletta Vertical Connections project
Valletta project cut short
Candlemas Ceremony
Chinese Spring Festival
Underground Water Storage
Carnival Dancing Competitions
Painting by Lazzaro Pisani

January 2008

Alan Johnson awed by Grand Harbour
Fr Marius Zerafa
Reviving Valletta
Restoration of Mattia Preti
Paul Axiak
Subsidised Broadband Offer

Carnival and St Elmo
Sulari Fuq Strada Stretta Play
St Paul's Church Restoration
The President's Palace
Disintigration of Priceless Paintings
Ranieri Accepts Defeat
Labour's Grand Harbour Plan
St John's Co-Cathedral Extension
Restoration at All Souls Church
Love for Grand Harbour
Emanuel Fiorentino
Barroso, Prodi and Trichet

December 2007

Polverista Restoration
Shop Owners and the Euro
Photography of Vanishing Valletta
Guido de Marco's Autobiography
Euro Paving in Valletta
Euro Carpets in Valletta
Marsamxett Harbour
Merchants Str. and St John Str. regeneration
Richard Ellis Photography
Will it Happen in Valletta?
Proposal for St Elmo
Grand Harbour Investment

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