As the proposed changes to the Sacra Infermeria (PA 02781/15) are contemplated, both internally and externally, Din l-Art Helwa would like to remind that heritage law concerning Grade 1 listed monuments, states that “ alterations which impair the setting or change the external or internal appearance, including anything contained within the curtilage of the building, will not be allowed”.

The installation of two lifts situated in an important historical junction where the long ward meets the short ward, will irreversibly change the original layout of this important building. The triviality of making this permanent change to the historical interior of the hospital of the Knights, for the sake of taking up tourists to its roof, makes a mockery of the Sacra Infermeria. Views over the Grand Harbour are abundant in Valletta, and there is no need to mutilate a historical building in order to provide another venue.

Moreover, roofing the structure with concrete slabs in order to take the load of future crowds, and the installation of a glass railing all around, will externally altar the lines of this building, and preclude the re-instating of its unique gabled roof, which was damaged in the past and remains partly standing.

Din l-Art Helwa appeals to the decision-makers to uphold the important values of heritage buildings; one has only to go to Mater Dei and look at the Crucifix which hung in the Sacra Infermeria, to understand the significance of this building in the context of medical care and practice in Malta. These values should be passed on to future generations, and not forgotten under the paraphernalia of short-sighted “improvements”.

8th August 2016