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St Helen's Gate to be enhanced

An artist`s impression of how the gate is to be enhanced.

An artist`s impression of how the gate is to be enhanced.

St Helen's Gate in Cospicua, possibly one of the most beautiful 18th century baroque gateways of the gunpowder fortifications, is to be further enhanced after a thorough restoration completed in 1999.

The gate was brought back to its former glory by the Cottonera Rehabilitation Project. The Resources and Infrastructure Ministry has now decided to complement the work by paving the area around the gate and installing light fixtures, which should give the gate a dramatic presence at night.

There are also plans to build a timber roof for what is known as the cantina of the drawbridge. The drawbridge mechanism incorporated into St Helen's gate followed a design introduced by the French military mission to Malta in 1714. This was a type of bascule, of the platform counter-weighted type, which pivoted on itself and retracted into a pit, or cantina as it was known, when withdrawn. In the course of the excavations, during the 1999 restoration it was found that the drawbridge pit had been filled in during the early British period when the old bridge built by the Knights of the Order of St John was dismantled and the chain and tackle mechanism was introduced instead.

The restoration work located the cantina of the drawbridge through an archaeological investigation carried out by restoration unit personnel.

The gate is also known as Porta dei Mortari. It was one of the many gateways designed by the French military engineer Charles François de Mondion, the Order's resident engineer, in the late 1730s.

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