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Cross pillar on esplanade, Mdina

Protecting the most significant buildings, monuments and features of Malta (11)

This monument consists of a low circular base on which are five circular steps supporting a column.

The cylindrical column has a plain shaft with a white marble capital that is intricately carved with stylized animal and plant motifs of a style datable to the Siculo-Norman period. On top of the capital is a small plinth supporting a Latin cross with decorated finials.

The marble capital is believed to be a remnant from the Medieval Mdina Cathedral. The existing Baroque cathedral was built on the same site of an earlier cathedral that was damaged by an earthquake in 1693.

Stylistically, the marble capital is datable to the 12th or 13th century and according to Buhagiar (2005) it may have belonged to the original cathedral’s nave arcade.

Additionally, according to Buhagiar (2005), the animal (lions and leopards) and plant (leaves, twigs and acanthus) decorations have a striking resemblance with “sculptures on Sicilian buildings and funerary monuments of Norman, Swabian and Angevin periods.”

The Cross Pillar at the Mdina Esplanade was included in the Antiquities Protection List of 1932 and was scheduled by MEPA as a Grade 1 national monument as per Government Notice number 1082/09 in the Government Gazette dated December 22, 2009.

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