The Malta Independent 20 June 2019, Thursday

Restored Great Siege Monument unveiled

Malta Independent Tuesday, 7 September 2010, 00:00 Last update: about 7 years ago

Deputy Prime Minister Tonio Borg yesterday presided a ceremony during which the restored Great Siege monument, located opposite the Law Courts in Republic Street, Valletta, was unveiled.

The monument first saw the light of day in 1927, in tribute to the fallen of the hostilities between Malta, then under the Knights of St John, and the Turkish armada in 1565, and was the work of sculptor Antonio Sciortino.

Restoration works were carried out primarily to address the effects of unfavourable atmospheric conditions, such as salt deposition and acidic bird droppings, which have left a visual mark on the monument throughout the years.

Standing on a thick granite base, the monument consists of three bronze figures.

The female figure on the left represents Faith and carries a papal tiara in an outstretched hand, while the one on the right, which carries a mask of Minerva, represents Civilisation.

The central figure is a muscular male representing Valour, and holds a sword in his right hand, which points down to the centre of the monument’s base, and a shield in his left hand.

Restoration works commenced earlier this summer and were completed in time for tomorrow’s wreath laying for the ‘Victory Day’ celebrations, the day the Great Siege was won.

Dr Borg paid tribute to the significance of the monument, describing it as an important reflection of the country’s identity.

He also applauded the work carried out by Din l-Art Helwa, the non-government organisation which coordinated the conservation exercise, and FIMBank, which sponsored the restoration.

“Malta’s victory in the Great Siege of 1565 was not only a matter of great national importance, but the Great Siege victory is widely considered to have had ripple effects on the security of Europe as a whole. Today, our full integration in the European Union pays testament to this crucial moment in our history,” said Dr Borg.

He also took the time yesterday to speak about the numerous projects being undertaken by the government to regenerate the capital city.

“Besides works on this monument, Valletta as a whole is also undergoing dramatic changes to ensure its preservation and protection for the benefit of present and future generations.

“To date, works have been concluded on 25 restoration projects in Valletta, which include the transformation of St George’s Square, the restoration of the façade and portico of the National Library, the upgrading of the Biagio steps and the preservation of the St Barbara bastions,” Dr Borg said.

On behalf of FIMBank, an international trade finance specialist which provides finance solutions to corporates, banks and individuals worldwide, Armin Eckermann, FIMBank Senior Executive Vice President and Group Head of Banking, said that Malta is a treasure trove of history, and as a Malta-based institution “the company felt it owed it to the people of Malta to help safeguard such a jewel as the Great Siege Monument. Not only is this monument linked to an important event in the island’s history, but it is also a masterpiece by one of Malta’s greatest artists,” said Mr Eckermann.

Petra Bianchi, executive president of Din l-Art Ħelwa, praised FIMBank’s support “of this important monument by Antonio Sciortino, one of Malta’s most accomplished 20th century artists”, and also revealed that the restoration project is dedicated to the memory of the former curator of the National Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art, Dennis Vella, who passed away last year.

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