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.



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