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Floriana: the ‘garden city’

Tony Cutajar marvels at the open spaces of Piraeus. He longs for like cities in Malta. He need not travel far from San Ġwann. Floriana excels as a garden city with vast open spaces, trees, fountains and more. To crown it all, Floriana offers admirable harbour views.

Its history dates back to Pietro Paolo Floriani and his design of encircling bastions fortifications. The 14 gardens and ancient glacis labelled Floriana as evergreen. It has not grown old, nor decrepit.

There are many monuments and old churches like Sarria and its paintings, the church dedicated to St Publius and its high steeples and the Capuchins church, built on the highest point in Floriana.

Of course, the old edifices are still standing: the Ospizio, the Casa d’Industria, now the police headquarters, and the former Archbishop’s Seminary, Wignacourt Tower, the railway tunnel, the former Wesleyan church, Connaught House, the primary school, the first to be built at government expense, the housing block as old as Grand Master Antoine de Paule and the boy scouts headquarters.

The open spaces at Triton Square may not compare with those of Piraeus. Space is limited. The square is part and parcel of Evergreen Floriana. So is the old parade ground and the granaries.

I must not forget the arcaded St Anne Street, where the Lion monument stands, symbol of so many football victories, not yet forgotten.

Argotti Gardens is also associated with the collection of herb and cacti. The Mall treasures a collection of monuments of renowned Maltese patriots, like Sir Luigi Preziosi.

I hate to end on a sad note. Six massive gates, like that of Porte des Bombes, faced destruction. The pride and traditions of the colonial era were not as refined as those of  our ancestral Maltese.

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