Daily Archives: July 19, 2014

Church of St. Catherine of Italy | Valletta, Malta | 19 July 2014

The Church of St Catherine is a Roman Catholic church situated in Valletta, Malta. The church serves as the parish church of the Italian community of Malta. It is more commonly known as the church of St Catherine of Italy or Santa Katerina tal-Italja in Maltese.

The church was built in 1576 by the Italian knights of St John to serve as their church. It was built adjacent to the Auberge d’Italie. Girolamo Cassar was commissioned to draw up the plans. In the 17th century the church was enlarged. An octagonal church was added to the existing chapel. The original chapel was changed into the sanctuary of the church. The church underwent a major restoration from 2001 till 2011. Today the church still serves as the parish church of the Italian community of Malta.

Information from:
Web: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_St_Catherine_of_Italy,_Valletta

© Tony Blood - Church of St. Catherine of Italy, Valletta, Malta, 19 July 2014

© Tony Blood – Church of St. Catherine of Italy, Valletta, Malta, 19 July 2014

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The National Library of Malta | Valletta, Malta | 19 July 2014

The idea of a public Library in Malta originated in 1555 with the issue of a decree by Fra’ Claude de la Sengle, Grand Master of the Order of St. John, whereby all books in the legacy of deceased knights were to pass to the Common Treasury of the Order. It was not until 1776, however, that the formal foundation of a Bibliotheca Publica was decreed at the Chapter General of the Order convened by Grand Master Emmanuel de Rohan. The main collections were those belonging to Fra’ Louis Guérin de Tencin, Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order who had died in 1766, and of Cardinal Joaquin Portocarrero, which de Tencin himself had purchased on the Cardinal’s death in 1760. The Library was for a time named Bibliotheca Tanseana in de Tencin’s honour. De Tencin is still today considered the founder of the Library. The books accruing to the Library, some very rare or with fine bindings, continued to be kept in cramped quarters in an edifice known as the Forfantone. De Rohan decreed the building of new premises to the designs of Stefano Ittar, a Polish-born architect residing in Italy. The building, situated in the heart of Malta’s capital city, Valletta, was completed in 1796 but two years later the Order of St. John was expelled from Malta by Napoleon and during the French 2-year period, the books remained at their former premises. It was only in 1812 – during the British administration – that the new premises were officially inaugurated by the British Civil Commissioner, Sir Hildebrand Oakes. From then on, the Malta Public Library, as it was then called, continued to flourish with a number of new acquisitions. In 1925, the Library acquired its “legal deposit” status by an Act of Parliament and 11 years later was granted the prefix “Royal” by King George V. The following year the Royal Malta Library took over the custody of the Archives of the Order of St. John which were transferred from the Public Registry premises. With the setting up of the new Public Library in Floriana in 1976, the Library in Valletta was officially designated as the “National Library of Malta” and became solely a research and reference Library.

In its capacity as National Library, the mission of the Bibliotheca, as it is more commonly known, is to acquire, catalogue and preserve manuscripts and all printed books, as well as periodicals and journals issued in Malta. Act no. II of 1925, and subsequently the Malta Libraries Act 2011, instituting the Legal Deposit imposed on all Maltese authors and editors publishing in Malta or abroad, the obligation to deposit two free copies of each of their publications, one at the National Library of Malta and the other at the Gozo Public Library. For this reason, the National Library has become the main source of Melitensia with the function of placing the written heritage of Malta at the disposal of researchers and general public.

Information from:
Web: http://education.gov.mt/en/education/malta-libraries/Pages/National%20Library/History.aspx

© Tony Blood - The National Library of Malta. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014

© Tony Blood – The National Library of Malta. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014

The Auberge de Castille | Valletta, Malta | 19 July 2014

The Auberge de Castille was the official seat of the knights of the Langue of Castille, León and Portugal – one of the most powerful of the Order of St. John, its Head being the Grand Chancellor. The Knights of this Langue were responsible for the defence of part of the fortifications of Valletta, known as the St Barbara Bastion. The Auberge is situated at the highest point of Valletta and originally looked out on the rolling countryside beyond, giving it a unique vantage-point unsurpassed by any other building in the city. The original Auberge was built by the renowned Maltese architect Girolamo Cassar in 1574. It was extensively re-modelled and virtually rebuilt in 1741, the present plan of the imposing structure attributed to Andrea Belli. The building was damaged during the siege of the French forces (1799–1800) as well as during the Second World War (1939–1945).

Information from:
Web: http://www.visitmalta.com/en/info/aubergedecastille

© Tony Blood - The Auberge de Castille. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014

© Tony Blood – The Auberge de Castille. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014

© Tony Blood - The Auberge de Castille. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014

© Tony Blood – The Auberge de Castille. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014

Saluting Battery | Valletta, Malta | 19 July 2014

The Old Saluting Battery stands on the lower part of the St. Peter and St. Paul Bastion. Originally built in the 16th century, it remained in continuous use up to 1960. The battery functioned as a master time keeper, as the gun shots at sunrise and sunset marked the beginning and end of the working day, as well as the opening or closing of the town gates.

The noon gun was fired to signal to mariners in the harbour the exact hour of mid-day, which was necessary for the regulation of watches on board ships for accurate navigation. The Saluting Battery was restored in 2005, complete with eleven original British 24-pounder cannons from the mid-late 19th century and volunteers dressed in uniforms of the time, representing the Royal Malta Artillery.

Location: Lower area of St. Peter and St. Paul Bastion, Valletta (right under the Upper Barracca Gardens).

Information from:
Web: http://www.visitmalta.com/en/info/salutingbattery

© Tony Blood - Saluting Battery. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014

© Tony Blood – Saluting Battery. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014

© Tony Blood - Saluting Battery. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014

© Tony Blood – Saluting Battery. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014

Upper Barrakka Gardens | Valletta, Malta | 19 July 2014

The Upper Barrakka Gardens are situated near Castille Place and possess unsurpassed views across the Grand Harbour over to the Three Cities.

The origins of the Upper Barrakka Gardens go back to 1661, when it was a private garden of the Italian Knights, whose inns of residence (auberges) lie close by. It was not before 1824 that it was opened as a public garden and during WWII the garden suffered much destruction. The paths are lined with and the busts, statues and plaques that chart various personalities and other significant events in Maltese history.

Of special interest are the bronze group, known as ‘Les Gavroches’ (street urchins), by an early 20th century Maltese sculptor. Depicting three children hurrying forward, the idea behind this statue was the extreme hardship faced at the turn of the 20th century.

Information from:
Web: http://www.visitmalta.com/en/info/upperbarraccagardens

© Tony Blood - Les Gavroches (street urchins). Upper Barrakka Gardens. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014

© Tony Blood – Les Gavroches (street urchins). Upper Barrakka Gardens. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014

© Tony Blood - Upper Barrakka Gardens. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014

© Tony Blood – Upper Barrakka Gardens. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014

© Tony Blood - Winston Churchill. Upper Barrakka Gardens. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014

© Tony Blood – Winston Churchill. Upper Barrakka Gardens. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014

© Tony Blood - Upper Barrakka Gardens. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014

© Tony Blood – Upper Barrakka Gardens. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014

© Tony Blood - Upper Barrakka Gardens. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014

© Tony Blood – Upper Barrakka Gardens. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014

© Tony Blood - Staircase. Upper Barrakka Gardens. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014

© Tony Blood – Staircase. Upper Barrakka Gardens. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014

Fort St. Elmo | Valletta, Malta | 19 July 2014

Guarding the approaches to both Grand and Marsamxett Harbours is Fort St Elmo. It was the scene of a heroic defence during the Great Siege of 1565.

When the Knights arrived in Malta, Mount Sceberras, on which Valletta was later to stand, was a rocky promontory with a small fort built in 1488 during Aragonese rule of the Islands. The Knights set about reinforcing the fort’s defences to the extent that this once small fort managed to repel a month of attack from the Ottomans at the outset of the Great Siege. It was eventually captured with the loss of 1500 Knights and local defenders. But testimony to the Fort’s strength is the fact that the attackers lost four times that number of men in taking the St Elmo. When the siege was over, the victorious Knights rebuilt Fort St Elmo and strengthened further its defences.

The Fort has seen continuous use over the centuries, right through to World War II and the present day. In 1940, at the start of the War, Italian airmen led the first aerial attack on Malta with Fort St Elmo as the main target. Today, part of Fort St Elmo houses the War Museum with the rest of the Fort serving as the Maltese Police Academy.

The Fort is the scene today of the `In Guardia’ and ‘Alarme’ historical re-enactments – full-scale military parades in period costume held throughout the year except during peak summer months.

Information from:
Web: http://www.visitmalta.com/en/info/fortstelmo

© Tony Blood - Fort St. Elmo. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014

© Tony Blood – Fort St. Elmo. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014

Lower Barrakka Gardens | Valletta, Malta | 19 July 2014

This garden perches on the bastion edge overlooking the entrance to Grand Harbour, commanding a superb viewpoint from the harbour mouth over to Fort Ricasoli, Bighi Palace, Fort St. Angelo and the creeks of Vittoriosa and Kalkara.

Among the trees stands a monument for Sir Alexander Ball, one of the leaders of the Maltese insurgents against the French in the 1798 uprising. When the French surrendered and the British annexed Malta, Alexander Ball was to become the first British Governor of Malta.

Information from:
Web: http://www.visitmalta.com/en/info/lowerbarraccagardens

© Tony Blood - Lower Barrakka Gardens. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014

© Tony Blood – Lower Barrakka Gardens. Valletta Malta, 19 July 2014