Din l-Art Helwa, 20 July 2008

Work continues in earnest by Din L-Art Helwa during these summer months on one of its most challenging restoration projects so far, that of St. Anthony’s Battery at Qala Point in Gozo. The project has been entrusted to the organisation by MEPA and is being co funded by Din L-Art Helwa, the Qala Local Council and Mepa’s Environmental Fund.

The coastal battery of Sant Antnin, as it is locally known, has suffered the ravages of time and vandalism and was almost reduced to mere rubble had Din l-Art Helwa not intervened to save it. Its strong hardstone has been misappropriated to neighbouring farmsteads and its magnificent coat of arms over its main gate only recently stolen. Many of the remaining walls have fallen victim to the elements.

It stands isolated in the remotest point of Qala guarding the straits between Gozo and Comino permitting limited and difficult accessibility to even the most dauntless volunteer. St. Anthony’s Battery which was built in 1732 by Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena, is one of the only two coastal batteries built by the Order of St. John to have survived in Gozo, the other being at Il-Qbajjar, outside Marsalforn.

Designed on a regular plan with five faces of embrasures for eleven guns and with ancillary accommodation inside the battery it has a gorge wall with a projecting tenaille all pierced with musketry loopholes. Above the main gate of the battery, were carved two shields, one had the Cross of the Order whereas the other had Vilhena’s Coat of Arms.

Din l-Art Helwa’s commitment to Malta’s built heritage has resulted in the salvage and restoration of numerous historic sites, the main ones having been that of Comino Tower and Comino Coastal battery and the Red Tower in Melieha. When the restoration of Saint Anthony’s Battery is completed, it will form part of a heritage and nature trail that will ensure visitors can enjoy the wild coastal location in which it is sited. The project is expected to be carried out within two years at a cost of approximately Lm28,000 or E68,000.