Military architecture in Valletta, Floriana falling apart

The splendid view from the Argotti Gardens, in Floriana, with St Luke's Hospital in the background.

The splendid view from the Argotti Gardens, in Floriana, with St Luke's Hospital in the background.

The military architecture around Valletta and Floriana is rarely put under the spotlight as another magnet for tourists to these shores.

The network of fortifications has, to a large extent, been abandoned to the ravages of erosion and decay.

The Ramblers Association showed its members that even urban Valletta and Floriana have much to offer not only in the form of architecture but also open spaces and spectacular views.

Hastings Gardens seem like a sentinel guarding the breathtaking vistas of Marsamxett Harbour.

The ramblers there became aware of the stone bridges that span the ditch half-way up the bastions. The intricate tunnel system that connects them are a marvel of military engineering.

"It's a pity that all the hard work and ingenious design behind such a superb tunnel and bridge system have been left to crumble. If restored, they will be a fine means of upgrading the tourist product to Valletta," Alex Vella, honorary secretary of the Ramblers Association, said.

At the Garden of Repose on the Floriana bastions facing Msida, the place is maintained exquisitely after it was vandalised once the British base on the island closed down.

Argotti Gardens and St Philip Gardens, in Floriana, came as a surprise to many of the visitors.

"The stone fountain that Grandmaster Alof de Wignacourt commissioned and placed in front of the Palace in Valletta to mark the arrival of water to the city today stands at St Philip Gardens in its lonely majesty," Mr Vella added.

The carvings on the walls and several free-standing stone works at Sa Maison garden, known also as Tal-Milorda, recall the various regiments stationed on the island during Malta's era as a British colony.

The main attraction, however unfortunate, was the splendid arch - that is collapsing - spanning the outer fortifications of Floriana, at the far end of the garden.

"Such an architectural masterpiece is in grave danger of being lost through utter neglect," Mr Vella explained.

If cleared of the overgrowth and waste, the valley it spans will extend the garden and make it easily accessible from the Ospizio at Floriana below the police headquarters.

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