Times of Malta, 23rd August 2008, by Lisa Gwen Baldacchino –

The seven-year long project to rehabilitate six kilometres of fortifications is to include the embellishment of parts of Vittoriosa.

This will be done through the rehabilitation of the ditch near Couvre Port for recreational purposes, the paving and/or restoration of the intra-mural area known as the collacchio, the laying of services underground, and an advanced lighting system for the bastions, the ditch and the collacchio which was a private area reserved for the Knights of the Order of St John.

The entire project, costing €36 million incorporates the fortifications in Valletta, Mdina, Vittoriosa and the Cittadella in Victoria, will be made possible through EU structural funds (85 per cent) and national funds (15 per cent).

The project is currently focused on documenting the designated areas in each of the four localities, with the work being done by the Restoration Unit and historical research conducted by Stephen Spiteri who is the Superintendent of Fortifications.

The plans and documentation process of the fortifications are one of the major projects under way at the Restoration Unit. It is a project they have been working on for about two years.

The unit is using a photogrammetry process to create the plans of the fortifications requiring restoration. The bastions vary in height, averaging roughly 27 metres and rising to 54 metres, posing a massive challenge in terms of accessibility.

The unit’s chief architect, Hermann Bonnici, said a major problem is the uncertainty of whether any interventions were previously made on the fortifications. He identified the bastion of St James in Vittoriosa as the one requiring the most extensive restoration work.

The government committed itself to inform the public of these extensive projects and the context of the restoration, through a series of meetings over the past weeks in each of the towns and cities involved.

The meetings were well attended, and that the response from the public was “very encouraging”.