Sunday, 24 June 2012


Karrozzi tal-Linja - Malta - Buses



Fejn nara ritratti antiki ta Malta dejjem jinteressani kif il-bini jew xena inbidlet matul iz-zmien. Fir-ritratti li ngibdu dawn l-ahhar mitt sena jidhru, hafna drabi, karrozzi tal-linja f’xeni hdejn bieb il-belt u mkejjen ohra. Tant interessajt ruhi f’dawn, illi bdejt infittex fejn jidhru aktar qrib u malli sibt ftit, bdejt inpittirhom kif dehru jinbidlu matul is-snin. 

When I spot vintage photos of Malta, I’m always fascinated how a building or scene changes over the years.In the shots of the past 100 years, one can spot buses at the city gate terminus and at other locations. My interest in these led me to seek closeup shots of them and after acquiring a few, I ended up painting a series showing how the Maltese Bus developed over the years.

                 Fejn jieqfu l-Karrozzi tal-linja - circa 1950                         Bus Terminus circa 1950



Kien ghad ghandna l-ferrovija u t-tram meta l-ewwel karozzi tal-linja gew impurtati mill-Inghilterra. Dawn kienu tal-marka Thorneycroft ta fuq u isfel imma bla saqaf fil-livell ta fuq. Impurtaw xi tnejn ohra tal-istess marka b’livell wiehed. Kellhom rotta bejn il-belt Valletta u San Giljan biss. Dawn baqghu iservu sas-snin 30.

Trains and Trams were still running in Malta of the turn of the century. At this time some Thorneycroft double deckers were imported from the UK. They had the upper level open without a roof. A couple of regular single deckers of the same make were also imported. They ran on a single route between Valletta and St Julian’s. These were still in service well into the 30s.

Ta fuq u isfel - Thoneycroft - Double decker.

Kif pittirtha jien - My interpretation on Canvas.



Ftit wara t-tmiem tal-ewwel gwerra dinjija, il-Maltin bdew ihaddmu rashom u flok jimpurtaw karozzi lesti, jibnuhom huma. Dawn kienu izghar minn ta qabilhom u mahduma fuq bazi ta ambulanzi zejda li xtraw minghand l-Inglizi. Hekk inholoq xoghol gdid tal-karrozzerija li baqa jizviluppa sa zminijiet ricenti.

Right after WWI, some Maltese craftsmen started reasoning they could build buses themselves instead of importing ready made ones. These were somewhat smaller and built on surplus ambulance chasis bought from the British. Thus was born a new bus body building trade which was still developing until recent years.

Mibnija fuq bazi ta' ambulanza - Built on ambulance chasis.

Kif pittirtha jien - My interpretation in Acrylics



Ghadda z-zmien u baqghu jibnu tal-linja imma din id-darba fuq bazi ta trakkijiet uzati impurtati mir-Renju Unit. Il-karozzi issa kienu bejn wiehed u iehor tal-istess ghamla izda akbar minn ta qabilhom. Hawn beda diehel xoghol ta disinn mizbugh bhala ornament, imsejjah tberfil fuq il-genb tal-karozzi, quddiem u fuq il-magna. Dan iz-zmien ukoll, bdew ituhom ismijiet ta nies prominenti, atturi u vapuri ta zmienhom kollox impitter bit-tberfil. Illum-il gurnata jezistu kopji ta dawn li juzawhom ghat-turisti.

As time went by, buses continued to be built, but now on used lorry chasis imported from the UK. These buses were generally of the same shape as before but larger. Now they began to be finely decorated with intricate painted shapes on the sides, front and hood. At this stage, buses were given names of prominent people, actors and ships of the time, all done in the same intricate painting. Nowadays one can find replicas of these used for tourists.


Imsemmija ghal vapur li gharrqu l-Germanizi
Named after a ship sunk by the Germans

Il-pittura tieghi - My painting



Fil-bidu tas-snin tletin, id-daqs tal-karozzi tal-linja beda jikber u hadu sura bil-‘gallarija’ jew pizz quddiem iservi biex jilqa x-xemx. Hafna minn dawn baqghu jidhru sas-snin hamsin. Sa issa kollha kienu indipendenti jew parti minn kumpaniji zghar b’servizz mhux ta min jorbot fuqu, izda ghal dan iz-zmien gew organizzati u mizbugha bi lwien jghajtu kull lewn juri lejn liema rahal sejra l-karozza. Ftit wara dan organizzaw ruhhom f’zewg kumpaniji imma xorta wahda ghalkemm anqas, baqghu jigu mzejna b’ismijiet u tberfil. Billi kollha kienu jitilqu minn barra l-belt Valletta, minn quddiem Bieb il-Belt u ohrajn minn fuq Kastilja, fil-gnieb kellhom ukoll Valletta u r-rahal ta fejn ikunu sejrin fuq zewg pjanci twal.

In the early thirties, the size of buses increased and they started being built with a protrusion or brim in front as protection from the sun. Many of these were still running well into the fifties. Up to now they were still individually run or in very small groups with erratic service rendered, but at this point they were organized and painted in bright colours, each colour indicating the village of destination. A while later they were organized into two large groups but owners were still decorating them as before with intricate motifs and names. Since there were only two termini, one just outside Valletta Kingsgate and another at Castille, the buses were equipped with long plates on each side with Valletta and the destination village printed on them. 



Tal-'Gallarija' - With a brim up front.

Il-pittura li ghamilt jiena - My interpretation on canvas.




                                                            ----------------------


                                           Terminus: (A=Kingsgate; C=Castille)
                              Colours                                                              destinations:
                       Red =                                                             Birkirkara --- A
                       Red + Green stripe =                                      Zejtun --- C
                       Red + Blue stripe =                                        Zabbar  --- A
                       Red + white / red stripes =                             Lija/Attard --- C
                       Blue =                                                            Rabat / Dingli --- A
                       Blue + Cream stripe =                                    Gudja / Ghaxaq --- C
                       Light Blue + white / red stripes =                   Kalafrana --- C
                       White + blue stripe =                                      Mellieha --- C
                       Light Green =                                                 Cospicua (Cottonera) --- A
                       Yellow =                                                         Zebbug --- A
                       Yellow + orange stripe =                                Siggiewi --- A
                       Orange =                                                        Zurrieq --- A
                       Brown =                                                         Mosta --- C
                       Brown + dark brown stripe =                         Naxxar --- C
                       Dark Green =                                                 Sliema / St Julian’s --- A
                       Dark Green + red stripe =                              San Gwann
                       Grey + red stripe =                                         Gozo
                       Cream =                                                         Private hire
                       All Red + white stripe+                                  Gozo Mail Bus



Fejn kienu jiqfu fuq Kastilja - The Castille Terminus.

Quddiem Putirjal - The Kingsgate Terminus.


                                                             -------------------------


Fis-snin 50 bdew jinbnew aktar fit-tond u l-gallerija jew pizz ma baqghux jibnuh. It-twieqi bdew jaghmluhom jigru fil-gnub biex wiehed seta jiftaghhom ghall-frisk u hargu ligijiet fejn ghalkemm ghebu l-ismijiet minn barra, baqa xi ftit tberfil moderat.

Around the fifties, buses became more streamlined and lost the front brim or protrusion. Now one could slide the windows open sideways for some fresh air. New laws were enacted banning names painted on the outside though a little intricate decoration was still allowed.
Ittundjati - Streamlined.


Il-pittura tieghi - My painting.



Il-magna tidher fuq barra wara ftit zmien iehor ghebet u b’hekk gi akkwistat naqra spazju iehor ghall-passiggieri hdejn is-sewwieq. Imma dan il-pass zied fil-hsejjes u shana li bdiet tarmi l-magna li issa sabet ruhha hdejn is-sewwieq. Ghaz-zmien 70 – 80, tnaqqas in-numru ta kuluri u fl-ahhar dahlet is-sistema tal-karozzi kollha hodor cari imbaghad orangjo b’faxx ahmar aktar tard. Biex tingharaf fejn sejra kull karrozza, dahlet sistema gdida ta numri jidhru fuq il-hgiega ta quddiem. Ftit wara bdew ukoll jigu mpurtati karozzi lesti imma uzati.

The engine found its way inside the main body of the bus after a while making space for a few more passengers near the driver. But this increased the levels of noise and heat emanated by the engine which was now squarely near the driver. In the 70s – 80s, the colours were unified first to a light green then to an orange with a red stripe. A new system of numbers on the windshield indicated each destination. A little while later one could spot ready built buses imported as second-hand.

Magna fuq gewwa - Engine incorporated inside.

L-interpretazzjoni tieghi - My Interpretation.




Wara riorganizzazzjoni shiha tat-trasport pubbliku, l-awtoritajiet xtraw il-karozzi kollha qodma u dahhlu kumpanija privata Arriva b’karozzi godda maghmula c-Cina u ohrajn uzati imma rrangati skond il-ligijiet tal-Ewropa. Ir-rotot inbidlu jew gew adattati u sa ftit zmien iehor tidhol sistema kompletament elettronika ta fejn sejrin, fejn jieqfu u u l-hin.

After a total reorganization of public transport, the authorities bought out the owners and put aside the old buses. A new private company Arriva came in with a set of new buses manufactured in China supplemented by used ones upgraded to European standards. The routes were changed or revised and in a short while a completely electronic system will be implemented indicating destinations, stops and times.

ARRIVA

Kif pittirt karrozza tal-Arriva - How I painted an Arriva Bus on canvas. 









Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Arkata - Wignacout Fleur-De-Lys - Archway

Meta kont fl-iskola primarja kellna l-kotba tal-Malti ‘Gabra ta Ward’. Fuq pagna minnhom kien hemm ritratt ta arkata sabiha li dak iz-zmien diga kienu waqqghuha. Qed nirreferi ghall-arkata tal-akwedott ta Wignacourt li kienet taqsam it-triq li tihu ghar-Rabat fejn hemm it-triq li tihu ghal Birkirkara. Din l-arkata fuqha kellha forma ta tliet fjuri tal-Fleur-de-lys li jistabu fl-arma tal-Granmastru Wignacourt. Minn hemm, it-triq li tihu ghal Birkirkara hadet dak l-istess isem. 

When I was still in Elementary School we had the Maltese reader 'Gabra ta' ward'. On one of the pages there was a photo of a beautiful archway which those days was already dismantled. I'm referring to the Wignacourt aqueduct archway which used to straddle the road to Rabat at the junction to Birkirkara. On top of it, this archway had three Fleur-de-lys flowers which are part of the coat-of-arms of Grandmaster Wignacourt. The road that leads to Birkirkara took the name of 'Fleur-de-lys' Road exactly from these ornaments.

 
Thares lejn ir-Rabat
Looking towards Rabat


L-arma ta Wignacourt
Wignacourt Coat-of-arms

Ix-xena tal-pittura tieghi thares lejn il-Hamrun
The scene in my painting looks in the direction of Hamrun

L-arkati li kienu jinghaqdu maghha n-naha ta fuq u n-naha t’isfel minnha, ghadhom hemm sal-lum izda is-sabiha li qed nitkellmu fuqha, hattewha l-Inglizi fis-sena 1942 biex jghamlu wisgha ghall-ingenji tal-gwerra taghhom ghax kienet fin-nofs ittellifhom.         
L-arkati jibdew jidhru h’Attard fuq in-naha tat-tramuntana tat-triq tar-Rabat, imbaghad meta jaslu fejn ir-roundabout ta Santa Venera, jispiccaw u ikomplu f’daqqa wahda fuq in-naha ta Nofs-in-nhar tat-triq. Ezattament, mela, hdejn ir-roundabout kienu konnessi minn din l-arkata triumfali. Waqqghu xi arkati mill-ohrajn ukoll biex wessghu ghat-triq, Homor fil-Google Map - L-arkata Safra u l-Ahdar il-hitan ta madwar kif kienu. Kollox bejn wiehed u iehor.

The arches which connected to it on both sides are still there but the more ornate arch was dismantled by the British to make way fro their war machines because it was in the way. 
The arches start appearing at Attard town on the north side of the Rabat road, and then when they come to the Sta Venera roundabout end abruply to appear on the other side of the road. Exactly near this present roundabout, they used to be joined by this triumphal archway. Some of the other arches were also dismantled to make way for the roundabout, Red on the Google Map - The archway is Yellow and the walls as they were I made Green. Everything is only approximate.



Billi din l-arkata kienet dejjem f’mohhi, kienet wahda minn tal-ewwel li pittirt u fil-fatt ipproducejtha tliet darbiet tant oghogbitni. L-ewwel darba li pittirtha kont ghadni bidu imma wara li hadt il-qaghda ergajt pittirtha darbtejn ohra, darba l-istess xena aktar fil wisgha s’intendi b’aktar dettalji u carezza, u darb’ohra bit-tram ghaddej minn hdejha. Dan kien ghadu jahdem fis-snin 30 u fix-xena jidher gej minn Birkirkara u jdur lejn il-Hamrun. 

Since this archway was always on my mind, it was one of my first subjects for painting, in fact I produced it three times. The first attempt was at the very start of my painting efforts but after gaining some experience I painted it again twice, one the same setting but wider and more clear and crisp, and another with a tram (streetcar) passing nearby. Trams were still in use up to the 1930's and in the painting it is coming from Birkirkara towards Hamrun.





Xi haga fuq l-istorja taghha. Hafna turisti u wkoll Maltin jahsbu li dawn l-arkati ta zmien ir-Rumani izda huma mis-seklu sbatax. Fi zmien il-Granmastru Wignacourt il-popolazzjoni kienet qed tizdied u ghalhekk kien hemm aktar htiega ta ilma fil-belt Valletta u madwar. Ingab espert minn barra jismu Padre Giacomo li fassal pjan ghal akwedott li jihu l-ilma mir-Rabat ghall-belt Valletta li kienet ghada tinbena. Ix-xoghol beda fl-1610 wara sentejn nixfa, u dam hames snin sa ma tlesta. Ghalih hallas parti l-Granmastru nnifsu.
Fuq l-arkata s-sabiha li semmejna kien hemm skrizzjoni bil-Latin issemmi "l-iSpirtu tal-ilma li kien jigri biex jilhaq u jati hajja gdida lill-belt Valletta". L-arkati jibqghu nizlin sat-tarf tal-gholja ta Sta Venera fejn jispiccaw f’torri. Minn hemm sal-belt kollox that l-art bhan-naha ta bejn ir-Rabat u h’Attard.        

A little abut its history. Many tourists and even Maltese think that these arches were built during Roman times but are from the 17th century. During the reign of Grandmaster Wignacourt the population was increasing and this brought with it the need for more water for Valletta and the surrounding areas. An expert, Padre Giacomo was brought in and he laid out plans for an aqueduct carrying water from Rabat to Valletta which had just been built. Work started in 1610 after two years of drought and took five years to complete. It was paid for from the Grandmaster's own pockets.
On the triumphal archway was the inscription in Latin stating that "The spirit of water runs to reach and give new life to the new city of Valletta". The arches continue on up to a tower where the land slopes down. From there everything runs underground like the part between Rabat and Attard.



Xi sitt snin ilu kienu rrestawraw il-bicca l-kbira tal-arkati u kien hemm ukoll xi hsieb li tinbena replika tal-mina n-nieqsa tan-nofs fir-roundabout stess. Il-Bank of Valletta kien sa johrog xi fondi ghal dan il-progett izda minn dan il-pjan s’issa ghadu ma deher xejn!  



Some six years ago, the majority of the regular arches was restored and there was talk about a replica of the triumphal arch being built in the roundabout. MEPA has at last given the go-ahead for the building of this replica. Link to the article on the Times of Malta below:

http-::www.timesofmalta.com:articles:view:20121023:local:green-light-for-fleur-de-lys-gate-rebuilding.442316

    



Saturday, 10 March 2012

Il-knisja ta' / Church of Porto Salvo - Hamrun

Din hija wahda mill-pitturi l-aktar ghal qalbi minn dawk kollha li ghamilt s’issa. Turi l-knisja ddedikata lill-Madonna ta Porto Salvo u nbniet fl-1645 minn Pankrazju Briffa ghall-vici kancillier tal-ordni ta San Gwann Fra Eugenio Ramirez Maldonato. Imiss maghha bnielu wkoll palazz ckejken ta sular wiehed bil-gonna warajh. 
Il-knisja regghet inbniet fi stil Barokk mill-kjeriku Antonio (Tonnuccio) Agius f’nofs is-seklu 18 u ghalhekk baqghalha l-laqam ta Santunnuzzu (ta Tonnucciu) sal-lum.

This is one of my favourite paintings done by myself. It shows the church dedicated to Our Lady of Safe Havens which was built in 1645 by Pankrazju Briffa for the Vice-councillor of the Order of St John Fra Eugenio Ramirez Maldonato. Adjacent to it he also built him a small one floor palace including gardens behind it.
The church was rebuilt in Baroque style by the cleric Antonio (Tonnuccio) Agius in the middle of the 18th century and thus the church got its nickname Santunnuzzu (of Tonnuccio) by which it is still called nowadays.



Il-pittura tieghi hija mehuda minn ritratt antik ta tmiem is-seklu 19. Minflok il-palazz illum hemm kerrejja u bini iehor, imma l-knisja flimkien ma appartament dejjaq hdejha u fuq is-sagristija ghadhom kif kienu fi zmien ir-ritratt. Salib doppju tal-Isqof li kellha fuq nett quddiem fil-faccata, waqa ghal zmien sittinijiet.

My painting was done from an old end of 19th century photo. Instead of the palace nowadays there is a cheap rental housing block and other buildings, but the church with the narrow apartment near it and over its sacristy remain as they existed in the time the photo was taken. A double episcopal cross it had on top of the facade, fell down in the 60's. 


Din il-knisja sakemm inholoq il-Hamrun, kienet taghmel ma Birkirkara u fil-fatt l-ewwel kappillan tal-Hamrun kien Dun Fortunat Valletta Karkariz li kien jinzel iqaddes Santunnuzzu ghan-nies tal-inhawi.  In-naha l-ohra tat-triq li hija l-ewlenija tal-Hamrun, dak iz-zmien kien jaghmel ma hal-Qormi.
Santunnuzzu ghall-ewwel kienet isservi ta parrocca sakemm inbniet il-knisja parrokkjali ta San Gejtanu li nfethet fl-1881. Ghal hafna zmien wara Santunnuzzu kienet isservi bhala vici parrocca.
Il-kanpnar li qieghed wara l-koppla u jidher fil-pittura, illum bilkemm tista tilmhu ghax fuq ix-xellug tal-knisja l-binja gholiet. Il-faccata tal-knisja giet restawrata fi zmien il-hamsinijiet. Minn gewwa hija ta ghamla skorfina u ghandha altar wiehed. Kuritur dejjaq fuq ix-xellug jihdok ghas-sagristija wara l-altar. Il-kuritur jibda minn barra b’bieb ckejken u kif tidhol fuq il-lemin, garigor dejjaq jihdok ghal gallarija mnittfa tal-orgni u tista tibqa tiela fuq fl-appartament zghir li fih gallarija ckejkna ghal barra (tidher fil-pittura u ghadha hemm illum).  Mil-kuritur tal-appartament tista thares ‘l isfel ghal gol-knisja minn tieqa ornamentali. F’dan l-appartament gew joqghodu l-patrijiet Karmnitani Skalzi bhala refugjati fit-tieni gwerra.

Until Hamrun took shape, this church was under the jurisdiction of Birkirkara and in fact the first Hamrun parish priest was Fr Fortunat Valletta, from Birkirkara who used to come and celebrate Mass at the church for the locals. The other side of the road which is the main one in town, those days fell under Qormi jurisdiction.
Santunnuzzu at first played the part of parish church until the new St Cajetan parish church was opened in 1881. For a long while afterwards, Santunnuzzu served as Vice-Parish church.
The belfry that stands behind the dome and which is part of my painting, nowadays is barely visible because on the left side of the church the building is now higher. The facade of the church was restored in the 50's. Inside it is shaped like a hexagon and has just one altar. A narrow corridor on the left of the church leads to a sacristy behind the altar. This corridor can be reached from outside by a small door and as one enters, a narrow spiral staircase leads one to a tiny organ loft and on to a small apartment which has a tiny balcony on the outside (can be seen in the painting and is still there nowadays). From the apartment corridor one can look down into the church itself through an ornamental window. The Discalced Carmelites made this apartment their convent when they came to Hamrun as refugees.

                                                      


Illum il-gurnata l-knisja qegheda tintuza, bhala post ghal-laqghat ta gruppi u talb, imma l-aktar importanti qieghed ikun espost hemmekk is-Sagrament Imqaddes ghall-adorazzjoni ta kulhadd.
Fl-ahhar irrid nghid ghaliex din ic-ckejkna knisja hija ghaziza ghalija. Bejn l-1947 u l-1952 kont abbati ckejken nghin fil-funzjonijiet u quddies ta qabel il-Koncilju Vatikan II. Fis-sena 1964 izzewigna hemm bhal ma kienu ghamlu xi whud minn huti. Bilhaqq iz-ziju Guzeppi kien jaghmilha ta sagristan hemm ghal ghexieren ta snin sa ma miet fis-snin 80.

Nowadays the church is utilized as a meeting place for prayer groups, but more importantly as a place of Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
My last comment about this church is its significance to me personally. Between 1947 and 1952 I was an Altar Server helping in the pre VaticanII celebration of Liturgy and Mass. In 1964 we celebrated our Wedding vows there as had some of my siblings before me. By the way, my uncle Joseph was sacristan there for decades before he passed on in the 80's.


Ghal aktar informazzjoni fuq din il-knisja morru fuq din il-pagna tal-website
Kappelli Maltin: 
http://www.kappellimaltin.com/html/santunuzzu.html

For more information (IN MALTESE) about this church please click on the above link to Kappelli Maltin.




Thursday, 8 March 2012

Il-Bieb tal-Bombi - Porte des Bombes

Fi xjuhiti qbadt impitter u billi nhobb hafna l-istorja ta Malta hafna drabi naghzel suggett  b’xi xena jew bini storiku ta Malta.   
Sibt ritratt antik tal-bieb tal-bombi kif kien fis-snin 1800 imma xtaqt nara xi dellijiet u dettalji aktar cari, ghalhekk fittixt ritratti aktar moderni. Mir-ricerka li ghamilt u minn fuq ir-ritratti li sibt, sirt naf hafna xorti fuq kif zviluppa tul is-snin u hawn xtaqt naqsam maghkom dan kollu.

In my old age I started painting and since I have the History of Malta at heart, many times I choose a subject with a Maltese scene or building.
Once I found a vintage photo of Porte des Bombes taken in the 19th century but needed a clearer picture for some details, so I looked for more recent pictures. From more research that I did and more pictures that I found, I gleaned a quantity of information about how this Gate developed over the years and here I'm going to share what I found with you.



Kont naf minn qabel ghaliex insejulu hekk imma dan rrid nghidu ghal min ma jafx.  Fid-disinn meta tarah, tinduna li l-kolonni huma forma ta kanuni, tnejn tnejn. Barra minn dan, zewg kolonni hoxnin, wahda kull naha, ghandhom Bomba kbira fuqhom tal-gebel. Dawn ghadhom hemm ghalkemm tressqu meta sar il-ftuh fis-swar kull naha.
L-istorja tieghu tibda fi tmiem is-sbatax-il seklu meta, bil-progress illi kien sar fuq armamenti tal-gwerra, kien jidher car illi l-art quddiem il-Belt Valletta, ma kinitx ghada lesta tilqa attakki kbar. Ghalhekk dehret il-htiega illi jinbnew difizi ahjar. Fis-sena 1635, Pietro Paolo Floriani ppropona illi tinbena linja ta swar minn-naha ghall-ohra tal-penisola ‘il boghod sewwa mill- faccata ezistenti tal-belt. Hekk beda l-bini tal-ewwel cirku ta fortifikazzjonijiet li jipprotegu l-belt. Dan ix-xoghol, tlesta fl-1645.  
Fl-1721, fi zmien il-Granmastru Perellos, il-perit De Mondion zied fuq li nbena qablu, u haffer foss ihares lejn Marsamxett li kien jinkludi bieb wiehed ornamentali, u hawn beda jihu s-sura li ngharfu llum. Kien fih arkata wahda – Il-pittura tieghi hija ta din – u fuqha kien hemm l-iskrizzjoni bil-Latin: “Dum Thraces Ubique Pugno, in Sede Sic Tuta Consto“ bid-data 1771, li tfisser “Filwaqt li jien (l-Ordni) niggieled mal-eghdewwa kullimkien, jien (l-Ordni) qiegheda hawn gewwa hadd ma jista ghalija”

I had an idea from before where its name originated but this I've got to explain for those who don't have an idea. When one looks at the design, one can notice the columns in the shape of upright cannons in twos. Apart from this, two huge column bases one on each side of the gate, carry large stone cannonballs on top.
The story of this Gate starts at the end of the 17th century when because of the progress in armaments of war, it became clear that the land in front of the Capital of Valletta was becoming more vulnerable to attack. So the need arose for better defences. In 1635, Pietro Paolo Floriani came up with the proposal of building a line of bastions across the peninsula quite a distance away from the City's main front. Thus started the building of the first circle of defence for Valletta. This work was finalized in 1645.
In 1721 under the Grandmaster Perellos, the architect De Mondion added on his predicessor's work and designed trenches overlooking Marsamxett. This design included one ornamental gate, and here the work started to resemble what we see nowadays. It had a single archway - this is what my painting shows - and over this was the Latin inscription: “Dum Thraces Ubique Pugno, in Sede Sic Tuta Consto“ with the date of 1771, which means "While I (the Order) fight the enemy everywhere, I (the Order) am in here invulnerable"


L-Inglizi kabbru l-bieb billi bnew arkata ohra parigg maghquda ma dik ta qabel. Niffdu wkoll passagg ghan-nies kull naha. Fuq l-arkata l-gdida parigg l-iskrizzjoni msemmija ta qabel, ghamlu skrizzjoni ohra tghid: “Ad Majorem Populi Comoditatem” bid-data 1868 li tfisser “Ghal aktar kumdita tal-maggorita’ tan-nies”.

The British enlarged the Gate by doubling it up with a copy of the existing archway. They also pierced a passage for pedestrians on each side. On the newly added archway, matching the aforementioned inscription, they inscribed this statement also in Latin: "Ad majorem Populi Comoditatem" with the date of 1868, meaning "For better access for the majority of population".

                           

Meta beda t-tram Malta, it-tizjin li kien hemm fiz-zewg arkati minn gewwa li kien jaghmilhom baxxi, zzarma kollu biex jaghmel il-wisa halli jghaddu l-ingenji l-godda. Ghal dan iz- zmien kienu hawlu xi sigar ma kull naha, liema kellhom jinqalghu wara meta nfethu l-gnieb. 

When trams (streetcars) were introduced in Malta, the ornamental part underneath the archways was removed because it was too low for the new machines to pass through. At this time, trees were planted on both sides but these had to be pulled out later on when part of the bastions on each side of the Gate was opened up. 


Fl-1933, il-gvern hareg ligi li tipprotegi l-art madwar il-Bieb tal-bombi sal-Pieta u l-Blata l-Bajda. Il-ligi kienet tghid li ma seta jsir ebda bini residenzjali jew kummercjali fuq din l-art.  Ghandna xorti ghax gvernijiet ta wara kemm fl-1983 u fl-1995 sahhew din il-ligi b’emendi ohra u llum ghandna firxa ta hdura mill-Hamrun sal-Furjana bil-bieb tal-Bombi fin-nofs.
Ftit qabel it-tieni gwerra dinjija, twaqqghu il-verandi ta fuq wara, jigifieri tan-naha tal-Furjana. Twaqqghu ukoll parti mis-swar li kienu jmissu mal bibien u saru zewg triqat, wahda kull naha tal-arkati wara li radmu l-foss. Dan kollu sar ghall-karrozzi tal-linja u t-traffiku li beda jizdied. Inghalqu wkoll iz-zewg arkati zghar li kien hemm ghan-nies, dawn issa kellhom il-bankini godda mat-triqat li saru. 

In 1933 the authorities passed a law protecting the land around the Gate up to Pieta' and Blata l-Bajda. This legislation prohibited any residential or commercial building on this land. We're lucky because subsequent governments both in 1983 and 1995 strengthened this law through other amendments and nowadays we enjoy quite a stretch of greenbelt from Hamrun to Floriana with the Gate in between.
Just before WWII the verandahs at the back, that is on the Floriana side, were dismantled. A gap was created on each side of the gate by dismantling a length of bastion and by filling up the moat, a road was created on each side. This was done in favour of Buses and traffic which was increasing rapidly. The pierced pedestrian access were closed up since people on foot had a sidewalk on the far sides by the newly opened roads.





Tard fis-seklu ghoxrin, linja fin-nofs jew medjana fejn setghu jithawlu sigar zghar tal-oljandru, tlestiet quddiem u wara l-bieb u firdet it-traffiku li tiela u li niezel. Imbaghad aktar tard saret restawrazzjoni mehtiega f’dawk il-partijiet li kienu tgherrew. Jahasra darbtejn wara dan ix-xoghol, vandali cappsu l-gebel restawrat biz-zejt mahmug tal-magni!

By the end of the 20th century, a median was crated where decorative oleander bushes were plated. This divided the traffic safely. Later on a needed restoration was carried out on the Gate itself. Sorry to say, as soon as this work was finished, twice did vandals throw burnt oil on the stonework!




Ritratt kortesija ta / Photo courtesy of: http-::www.maltain360.com:

Nispicca b’ton pozittiv. Il-bieb tal-bombi jidher sabih ferm filghaxija u bil-lejl mixghul bil-floodlights. Kellu bzonn wirt sabih bhal dan, qisu l-Arc de Triomphe Maltija, imfittex mit-turisti ghar-ritratti, jigi stmat minn uliedna li ghadhom telghin.

I end this posting with a positive tone. Porte des Bombes looks beautiful at night all lit up with floodlights. We hope that such heritage as this, like Malta's Arc de Triomphe, an attraction for tourists and photographers, will be appreciated by the younger generation.



Tuesday, 6 March 2012

8. It-torri - Wignacourt - tower.

It-torri ghadu hemm, restawrat, imma dak it-tarag li kien ghadu jezisti sa ftit snin ilu, nehhewh. F'dan it-torri kien hemm it-telephone exchange ta San Pawl meta kellna sistema kollox manwali. Il-vilel li jidhru fuq il-lemin ghadhom hemm ukoll izda llum wara hajt gholi. Din il-veduta tidher giet impittra minn fejn illum hemm is-sala tal-knisja.

The tower is still there, restored, but the stairs in front were removed a few years ago. Inside was used as a telephone exchange for the St Paul's Bay area when the system was still manual. The villas on the right are still there but now are behind high walls. This scene must have been painted from where today there is a parish hall.


Pittura originali 'l fuq minn wahda mit-twieqi tal-kuritur fil-Palazz
Original painting on top of window in a corridor of the Palace



Il-pittura tieghi kif interpretajt ta fuqha
My interpretation of the painting above



It-torri fi tmiem is-seklu dsatax
The tower in the late 19th century



Illum mill qrib. Ma tistax tigbed ritratt tal-veduta bhall-pittura ghax illum hemm hafna bini fin-nofs
Close-up today. One cannot take a photo resembling the painting because it's built up all around




7. Il-Palazz - Verdala - palace.

Il-palazz serva hafna zminijiet u dejjem hadu hsiebu. Inbena l-ewwel appuntu bhala post ghall-btala mill-Granmastru Verdala, imbaghad fi zmien l-Inglizi waqa f'idejn il-Gvernaturi u issa sintendi juzawh il-Presidenti ta Malta. Kemm kienu ghadhom zghar is-sigar fil-pittura, illum tant kibru li bilkemm tista tigbed ritratt ta din ix-xena suret in-nies u ggibu jidher il-palazz!

This palace has been in service for a long time and has been taken care of. Initially built as a summer residence for Grandmaster Verdala, it was used by the Governors under British rule and nowadays by Maltese presidents. The trees look so small in the painting, nowadays they're so grown that one cannot take a decent picture of the palace with them in the way!


Il-pittura originali fil-lunetta
Original painting in the lunette



Kif pittirt ix-xena jiena
My interpretation of the scene



Il-Palazz Verdala llum minn angolu iehor imma li juri kemm lahqu kibru s-sigar 
Another angle today showing the extent of growth of foliage



6. Mgarr Ghawdex port - Mgarr Gozo Harbour

Fejnhom il-vapuri kbar u l-moll enormi? Forti Chambray ghadu hemm fuq illum mimli bil-bini modern gewwa, izda l-knisja ta Lourdes anqas tidher. Ix-xatt, fuq ix-xellug, tidher id-Dwana fejn llum hemm wahda moderna u akbar. Dik il-lukanda mibnija stil Ingliz kienet wieqfa sal-bidu tas-seklu 20, issa hemm it-telgha minflokha. Dik il-hdura ta madwar, illum il-bicca l-kbira mibnija.

Where are the large ferries and the enormous quay? Fort Chambray is still up there but now containing modern buildings within its walls, but Our Lady of Lourdes church is nowhere to be seen. At the shore on the left a huge modern customs house has taken the place of the tiny one. That hotel built British style was still standing at the start of the 20th century, now there's the wide road going up in its place. The greenery has mostly vanished being replaced by buildings.


Il-pittura originali fil-kuritur tal-Palazz
The original painting in the Palace corridor



Kif pittirtha jien ix-xena tal-port tal-iMgarr
How I painted the Mgarr harbour scene



Fil-bidu tas-seklu ghoxrin
Early in the 20th century



Kif jidher illum
The scene nowadays