A painting discovered behind a blocked arch at the Gran Salon within the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta has been confirmed as an image of Neptune, the Roman God of the Sea, following a conservation project held by Heritage Malta with Bank of Valletta’s (BOV) support.
The painting, which sees the god hold a trident in his hand, was first discovered in 2021 during the project. It stands above what used to be a recessed arch with a fireplace that was blocked and redecorated.
As they were removing the pointing of the blocked-off access, conservators witnessed decorative elements completely different from the current decorative scheme of the Gran Salon, and a small opening was thus made, revealing details of a trident.
Following discussions of the findings with several professionals, the conservation team and Heritage Malta experts, with the approval of the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, continued to meticulously remove stones blocking the archway to reveal a painting of Neptune that could possibly date to the late 17th or early 18th century.
Neptune is seated in the centre of a large seashell, resting his left hand on a jar with flowing war, while holding the trident in his right hand. He is depicted in a green colour, with the experts claiming it might have been done so he imitates bronze statues. As part of the decorative scheme there are also some architectural features among other shells and fish. They claim that to date, this is the only surviving element of the original decorative scheme of the Gran Salon, a majestic hall in the Auberge de Provence – now housing the National Museum of Archaeology – which was most probably fully decorated during the Knight’s period, yet was redecorated during the British Period.
The restoration of the hall commenced in 2017 through a partnership between BOV and Heritage Malta, with the bank’s participation in the project forming part of its commitment to “support and assist the community in which it operates”, going beyond the provision of financial services but as an “active citizen of this community”.
BOV CEO Kenneth Farrugia and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Ernest Agius recently visited the Gran Salon to witness the discovery, and they were greeted by Heritage Malta COO Kenneth Gambin and the conservation team, who provided an update on the conservation process.
“As a bank celebrating its 50th anniversary next year, and with over 200 years of history in Malta, the local heritage is very close to our hearts and forms an integral part of BOV’s Community Programme,” Mr Farrugia said.
“We are indeed very excited to form part of this exciting discovery together with Heritage Malta and we are keen to follow any new information that this discovery will shed on the history of this magnificent hall,” he added.
Mr Gambin expressed his delight at the discovery of this early decorative scheme, which “further enhances” the Gran Salon’s value and beauty. He lauded the efforts of Heritage Malta’s conservators who had a crucial role in the project, and also thanked BOV for its “unwavering support”.
He remarked that Heritage Malta is eager to make this discovery accessible to the public, in line with its commitment to “bring Malta’s cultural heritage within the reach of the widest audience possible”.
Article credits: https://whoswho.mt/en/bov-and-heritage-malta-partnership-sees-exciting-discovery-of-neptune-painting-in-national-museum-of-archaeologyBalluta Buildings: One of Malta’s last few exhibits of Art Nouveau architecture
St Julian’s has been a hub for construction and staggering development in recent years, with residential blocks, hotels, catering establishments and retail stores now dominating its landscape.
However, a deep dive into the seaside town’s past shows that away from recent developments, St Julian’s has a rich history, perfectly characterised by the iconic Balluta Buildings.
Located in the area overlooking Balluta Bay, Balluta Buildings is an apartment block that was built in 1928 in the Art Nouveau style for the Marquis John Scicluna. Constructed to the designs of Maltese Architect Giuseppe Psaila, it is one of the finest, and last remaining examples of the architectural style in the Maltese Islands.
While Mr Psaila had worked on various other buildings in the Art Nouveau style, including a townhouse on Dingli Street, Sliema, which now belongs to Lombard Bank, Balluta Buildings is considered by many to be his greatest, and one of Malta’s most iconic buildings.
The block used to house some of Europe’s most beautiful and captivating apartments at the time, with high ceilings, spacious living areas, Maltese tiles, and also stunning sea views.
Comprised of three vertical structures each containing arched openings at the centre, together with rows of double windows on either side, the block’s façade is truly indicative of the elegance that characterised the wealthier communities of the early 20th century.
When first built, most of the apartments were occupied by Marquis Scicluna’s associates, with some of the tenants’ heirs still occupying the apartments to this day. At the block’s street level, there are some cafés and restaurants, including recently-opened L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele Malta.
Balluta Buildings has undergone renovation over recent years, with various sections of its façade and interior requiring restoration.
Classed as a Grade 1 monument, meaning it is of particular national, architectural and historical importance, and listed on the National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands, Balluta Buildings truly stands out as an architectural gem amongst St Julian’s mountains of concrete.
Article credits: https://whoswho.mt/en/balluta-buildings-one-of-malta-s-last-few-exhibits-of-art-nouveau-architectureMalta awarded as the best cultural destination of the year
Malta has been awarded the prize for Connoisseur Circle Hospitality Award as the best cultural destination of the year.
The team at the Malta Tourism Authority in Germany received the honour of the Cultural Getaway of the Year 2020, as the best destination for those looking for a short and luxurious cultural destination.
Every year, the Connoisseur Circle, a luxury travel magazine, awards the best hotels, cruise liners, airlines and destinations in 15 different categories. The winners are chosen by a jury made up of travel journalists and industry experts.Ten reasons to visit Malta
1. Luxury for Less: Malta delivers the ultimate recipe for luxury with 15 five-star hotels and new luxury boutique hotels. It provides visitors the opportunity to experience the finer things for less as luxury accommodations in Malta are increasingly less expensive than similar hotels in Europe itself. So why not enjoy the champagne things in life — at sparkling-cider prices?
2. Valletta: The European Capital of Culture in 2018, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Valletta, travelers will find themselves engulfed in the rich history and religious attractions that make up this Maltese Capital. Built by the Knights of St. John, the city that is bustling by day and now by night, will transport you back in time with its historic architecture and Old World atmosphere. The narrow streets will lead you to historical landmarks, quaint coffee shops and elaborate churches.
3. Gozo and Comino: A trip to Malta isn’t complete without a visit to Malta’s two sister islands, Gozo and Comino. The more rural island, Gozo, is a perfect change-of-pace for those looking for a more relaxed and quaint stay. The island also comes complete with historical sites, forts and amazing panoramas, as well as one of the archipelago’s best-preserved prehistoric temples, Ġgantija. Situated between Malta and Gozo is a water lover’s paradise, Blue Lagoon. Home to the most spectacular diving, snorkeling and boating experiences, the car-less island Comino is home to the magnificent Blue Lagoon and the one single hotel on the island offers guests the most tranquil getaway.
4. The Dive Trail: Coming in as the third best diving destination in Europe two years in a row, all three Maltese islands offer unique diving experiences with an abundance of reefs, caves and wrecks, for a momentous experience. For the ultimate diving adventure, take on the Dive Trail.
5. Religion: With more than 360 churches and chapels scattered across Malta and Gozo, these religious sites form an integral part of the country’s history, landscape and skyline – they are at the heart of Maltese social and cultural life. St. Paul brought the Christian faith to Malta when he shipwrecked in A.D. 60, as his steps can be retraced through the shrines, grottos, catacombs, and more. Malta is home to religious experiences far beyond the ordinary and is a must-see religious destination. Malta has also developed a Jewish Heritage program.
6. Diverse Culinary Experiences: Malta offers travelers diverse culinary experiences, from the traditional plate of eclectic Mediterranean food curated by a relationship between the Maltese and the countless civilizations that occupied the island, to the never-ending vineyards delivering the finest wine. Don’t forget: Malta boasts three Michelin one-star restaurants.
7. Year-Long Events/Festivals Calendar: The year-long calendar of events and festivals provide a diverse option of unique, culturally immersive experiences for all. With events such as the Malta Arts Festival to Classic Car Races and the Rolex Middle Sea Sailing Race, there’s a niche for everyone.
8. Health and Wellness: The Maltese Islands are the perfect place to take time for your health and wellness. The fresh island air gives travelers the energy to walk or cycle through the beautiful scenery, or embrace some more adventurous activities like rock climbing or paragliding. There are many spas in Malta, especially at the luxury hotels.
9. Nightlife: Typical of the Mediterranean lifestyle, locals’ approach to life is to enjoy it as much as possible, giving Malta a lively and cheerful nightlife constantly. From clubbing and DJ’s, to classical orchestras, to traditional band music, nights on the Maltese coast are never dull.
10. Blockbuster Movie Locations: In recent years, Malta has become one of Europe’s most popular film and television locations – dubbed “the Mediterranean’s mini-Hollywood” by the London Times. The Maltese Islands are home to countless blockbusters like Gladiator, Popeye, and The Count of Monte Cristo. Most famously, the city of Mdina was home to the filming of HBO’s Game of Thrones, as the fictional city of King’s Landing.