Valletta, Malta Architect Spiteri City Gate
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How the entrance to Malta’s capital keeps evolving

Description

The entrance to Valletta has changed beyond recognition over the past six decades.

Our archive film starts with footage of the majestic-looking King’s Gate during the Second World War.

It was built in 1853, and consisted of two central arches with two smaller ones.

There were two statues on either side of the gate, one of Philippe Villiers de L’Isle-Adam, the first Grand Master in Malta, and one of Jean Parisot de Valette, the founder of the city.

By the 1960s, King’s Gate was regarded as too small to cope with the large influx of people entering Valletta and it was pulled down in 1964.

City Gate, as seen in the film, was built between June 1964 and August 1965 and designed by architect Alziro Bergonzo.

It consisted of a large opening in the centre with two smaller ones on the sides, and had a plain design with limited decoration.

It was controversial at the time of its construction, with the general public having some very mixed opinions.

Critics referred to it as ‘the garage door’, and the Malta Chamber of Architects described it as ‘an architectural flop’.

This City Gate was demolished in 2011, with Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi attending the demolition.

The present gate was completed in 2014 to designs of world-renowned architect Renzo Piano, as part of a massive regeneration project to improve the entrance to Valletta.

It consists of a breach in the bastions, flanked by large blocks of stone which are separated from the curtain walls by high blades of steel.

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