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Stalls and the City

The four knights

The four knights

What’s going on? Is the government so opposed to good style and the Renzo Piano designed Valletta entrance that it is doing everything in its power to make sure that the whole area looks as tacky and in awfully poor taste as humanly possible?

It all started back in mid 2013 when to fulfil a pre-election promise the government hinted that the monti will be moving to Ordnance Street, close to the Valletta entrance. Many complained but as it normally happens something newer and shinier hit the news and we all forgot about it.

Then, in September 2014 a monstrous bronze bas-relief sculpture of “Four Knights” was proposed for the entrance to Valletta. There was uproar by the community saying that this sculpture did not fit into the aesthetics of the newly designed entrance (apart from the bad taste of the sculpture itself). These complaints were once again noted and this piece of news was forgotten.

We then had a little respite with "Żieme", a contemporary sculpture which actually fit in and complemented the entrance, but unfortunately that didn’t last too long.

Time passed and last week a new addition to the Valletta entrance was unveiled. Monti stalls made out of what looks like scraps from the recycling centre, painted white with a red eight pointed cross printed 6 times across the front. I’m all for recycling but surely the entrance to a World Heritage Site and our capital city deserves better.

There is nothing elitist about this argument. The Valletta monti might be a collective of hard working sellers but that is not enough to grant them such a prime spot at the entrance to our capital and next to the new Parliament building.

As much as the newly designed monti stalls were a bad idea conceived in even worst taste, so was the decision to move the market from Merchants to Ordinance street. Once again, our capital city deserves better and so do we the citizens, as well as the people visiting Valletta for the first time or the nth time.

And now, to make matters worse, the “Four Knights” bronze sculpture seems to be rearing its ugly head(s) again with the Planning Directorate advising MEPA to approve the location of what they are now calling a 'monument' - so much for the protection of our cultural heritage.

Is this some kind of revenge a la biting your nose to spite your face or is it something closer to a free for all, where the highest bidder or the person with the closest contacts wins? Whatever the scenario is I really hope the government pauses for a second to consider the ramifications of such decisions.

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