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17th century tower in Xgħajra being restored

Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

The most recent project undertaken by Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna is the restoration of the Triq il-Wiesgħa Tower in Xgħajra.

The project has been entirely sponsored by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority through the Environmental Initiatives Public Programme.

FWA chairman and CEO Mario Farrugia said it was difficult for them to find a sponsor for the restoration of the tower and that they were very grateful to Mepa for their sponsorship.

Mepa chairman Austin Walker said the EIPP had already funded 36 similar projects and €500,000 had already been approved for future projects. Mr Walker stressed that Mepa is also concerned with the environment and its undertakings were not solely focused on issuing or rejecting building permits.

The restoration works on the tower started this week and it is estimated that they will last between three and four months, costing €100,000.

The restoration of the tower, however, only constitutes the first of a multi-phase project incorporating a coastal defences heritage trail spanning a distance of roughly four kilometres between Żonqor Point and Ricasoli point.

The heritage trail will encompass the natural environment surrounding the already identified defence structures. The restoration of the natural environment will be part of the multi-phase project.

The stone Triq il-Wiesgħa Tower possesses a similar configuration to other contemporary towers and it is one of 13 built between 1658 and 1659 during the reign of Grandmaster Martin de Redin.

Before restoration commenced, the tower was in a very bad condition. Although an entire corner of the tower is presently unsupported, most of the original fabric of the structure is still there but it has suffered immensely due to its direct exposure to the elements.

Also, during WWII the roof parapet and stair-room were removed and the tower had also suffered some damage after an aircraft crashed in the immediate vicinity. The degradation of the tower was also a result of neglect, acts of vandalism and misuse. The tower was originally built for coast-watching purposes and for tracking enemy movements at sea. The tower has not been in use for over a century.

http://www.wirtartna.org

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