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-archaeologyWorld’s first deepwater archaeological park inaugurated off Xlendi
At a depth of more than 110 metres, the world’s first deepwater archaeological park has been inaugurated off Xlendi in Gozo.
The park, designated as an Archaeological Zone at Sea in 2020, covers a total of 67,000 square metres.
Speaking during the park’s inauguration ceremony on the Xlendi waterfront, National Heritage Minister Owen Bonnici remarked that through the park, researchers and technical divers from all over the world can explore the history of Malta.
This archaeological park at the bottom of the sea has also been mapped out on the website www.underwatermalta.org following extensive work by Heritage Malta’s Underwater Cultural Heritage Unit, headed by Professor Timmy Gambin.
The artefacts were documented and are now offered through a virtual museum so that more people can appreciate the unique sites of our seas, said Bonnici.
Gambin said the launch of this unique park elevates the submerged deposits off Xlendi and enhances Gozo’s cultural heritage as well as its tourism product.
Through future collaborative efforts and thanks to the generous support of the Malta Airport Foundation, Gozo will continue to develop as a centre of excellence in the fields of underwater archaeology and heritage management, he said.
The park’s depth ranges between 105 and 115 metres, where the seabed consists of fine silt and sand punctuated by a series of rocky outcrops formed by extinct coral reefs.
Around these outcrops, there are concentrations of archaeological objects, mostly amphorae. It is highly likely that more archaeological remains are buried in the sediment, based on the continuous deposition of sediment from Xlendi Valley and the presence of partially buried objects.
Although the depths at which this park is found make it accessible only to a niche of technical divers, the virtual museum brings the discoveries closer to specialised audiences and the general public.
The park, sponsored by the Malta Airport Foundation, is the result of a collaborative effort between Heritage Malta’s Underwater Cultural Heritage Unit, the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, the University of Malta, and the Munxar Local Council.
Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri said the park was an additional incentive for travellers to opt for Gozo as their destination of choice, offering them a distinct and unparalleled stay unlike any other.
Article credits: https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/world-first-deepwater-archaeological-park-inaugurated-off-xlendi.1048456Mosta Oratory Being Restored From WW2 Damage
Restoration work on the façade of the Oratory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mosta began in August 2022, and are expected to be completed by the end of May 2023. The Restoration Directorate were responsible for this project, from the documentation to the work on the Oratory itself.
The Oratory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was completed in 1935 and inaugurated in 1940, based on the design of architect Nettu Mifsud Ellul. During World War II, a bomb fell in the square in front of the chapel, causing some damage to its façade, which can still be seen today.
Mosta mayor Chris Grech noted how Mosta has changed over the years from an agricultural village to a large residential city and an important commercial centre.
“We cannot make the advances we have achieved without appreciating the legacy left to us by our predecessors, Sacred Heart of Jesus in Mosta is a cradle of civic, religious, dramatic and sporting culture for the whole generations of ‘young people and adolescents. For them the Oratory was their second home”. Concluded the Mayor.
Read the full article here: https://lovinmalta.com/culture/mosta-oratory-being-restored-from-ww2-damage/
Knights’ era hanging tapestries at St John’s Co-Cathedral
The conclusion of 16 years of restoration work on the set of the 300-year old 29 tapestries for St John’s Co-Cathedral will be commemorated with a unique opportunity for the public.
For a month and a half from the beginning of next month, the full set of hanging tapestries at the Co-Cathdral can be admired by the public for their artistic masterpiece with a religious significance. Preparations for this occasion are at an advanced stage.
he last occasion when the tapestries were hanged on the Co-Cathedral walls was in May 1990 when Pope John Paul II visited St John’s Co-Cathedral.
With a history of 300 years, damage on the tapestries was evident on their wool and silk, damage caused through light and the UV rays.
Preparations are currently underway at the Co-Cathedral for the mounting of the full tapestries set to be exhibited for a month and a half…..an occasion with the tapestries which will be exhibited for the first time following their restoration.
The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation chief executive, Tonio Mallia, said the hanging system of the tapestries had to be slightly changed as a result of the restoration.
The tapestries set, which was a gift by Grand Master Ramon y Perellos to the Order’s Conventual Church, were woven in Brussels and arrived in Malta in 1702. The Co-Cathedral’s curator Cynthia Degiorgio, said that the full set contains 29 masterpieces that together measure 870 square metres. During the Order’s time, they were hanged inside the Co-Cathedral for the feast of Corpus Christi and remain there till the feast of St John the Baptist on 24 June.
The tapestries restoration was carried out by an expert team in the De Wit laboratories in Belgium. Ms Degiorgio stated that the restoration process, mostly on the pure wool and silk, was long because of the tapestries size and the cleansing operation with special equipment.
The public exhibition of the tapestries from 5 May till 24 June will also be the first time that the tapestries will be exhibited after their restoration in a process that lasted 16 years at a cost of €1.3 million euro for the Foundation.
Read the full article here: https://tvmnews.mt/en/news/unique-opportunity-for-the-public-to-admire-knights-era-hanging-tapestries-at-st-johns-co-cathedral/Spotlight on Malta’s Jewish History in Jewish Life Television’s Global Travel Series
Malta has been one of the best kept secrets for a Jewish Heritage Experience. Exploring a Jewish presence that dates to the Roman Period, the Malta Tourism Authority and Jewish Life Television (JLTV) proudly announce the premiere of The Jewish History of Magnificent Malta, as part of JLTV’s award-winning global travel series Air Land & Sea.
Hosted by Brad Pomerance, this two-hour program premiered on JLTV on Sunday, June 12, 2022. This episode took the audience on a remarkable journey, uncovering the history of Maltese Jewry, believed to be one of the oldest Jewish communities in the entire world.
“Who knew that the Maltese islands in the middle of the Mediterranean would be so full of Jewish history?” said Brad Pomerance, JLTV’s Air Land & Sea Host. He also noted, “we were completely blown away to actually see evidence of Jewish life in Malta dating back to the early centuries of the 1st millennia and so much more. And it was abundantly clear that the Maltese are so proud to showcase and promote this Jewish Heritage as part of Malta’s 7,000 years of history.”
Michelle Buttigieg, Malta Tourism Authority Representative North America, added that “Malta is very proud to introduce this Jewish Heritage Malta experience in such depth through the lens of JLTV to its large North American audience. For the US & Canada, Malta is still an undiscovered gem, and even more so, its Jewish Heritage.” Buttigieg further noted, “what is also good to keep in mind for the Jewish Travelers, there are now direct flights (2 ½ hours) from Tel Aviv/Malta, so they can now combine their visit to Israel with a trip to Malta.”
“The pandemic brought with it challenges that are rapidly being turned into opportunities through various incentives and projects targeted to offer the necessary tools for our local hospitality industry to recover, rethink and revitalise. Once again, living in full normality we remain committed to make Malta a hub of tourism excellence for the years to come. The goal to achieve this vision is an ambitious one, but together we can make it happen,” outlined Minister for Tourism Clayton Bartolo.
In the first two-hour episode, which will be available to watch live on JLTV (www.jltv.tv/channels for channel position) or www.jltv.tv/watch, Host Brad Pomerance and his intrepid crew explore and uncover some jaw-dropping historical proof of Jewish presence dating back to the turn of the Common Era.
Read the full article here: https://www.mta.com.mt/en/news-details/364Heritage Malta Taste History
This week we headed down to Vittoriosa to learn about Heritage Malta’s Taste History initiative. Clive Cortis explains to us this fairly new concept that is being introduced to Museums on the islands.
After thorough research extracted from a vastly documented evidence found in Malta from the days of the corsairs, Taste History managed to reproduce the recipes and food stuffs used in the past and bring them to life.
This activity is lead by a professional team of curators and chefs that have come together to recreate the paupers’ frugal snacks, the corsair’s celebratory dinner, the Grand Master’s wine list, the Inquistor’s lent dinner and the Merchant’s decadent dessert, bringing about results that are as surprising as the flavours which have been brought back to life. An opportunity for guests to taste Maltese and Mediterranean history. This journey can be enjoyed at the Maritime Museum or the Inquisitor’s Palace, both found in the Three Cities, the original location of the corsairs or in any other Heritage Malta site. The Taste History team are urging the general public to join expert historians and fellow learners and immerse in the changing tastes of history in 18th century Malta.
This experience is exciting and interesting as a traditional dinner or lunch event and is being extremely well received by all that have experienced the journey.
Malta is renowned for its history and we are very proud to share it with all our guests as we greet them on our islands and passionately recount the myriad of stories the island holds so dearly.The Grand Harbour
Cruising the Grand Harbour is one of Malta’s most peaceful and interesting tours… and has today become an integral part of the tourist itinerary for thousands of visitors to our islands.
The Grand Harbour (in Maltese: Il-Port il-Kbir) is a natural harbour. It has been used as a harbour since early Phoenician times. The natural harbour has been greatly improved with extensive docks and wharves, and has been massively fortified over centuries.
Our Grand Harbour set stage for various attacks and conquers leaving behind centuries of history and stories to tell.
This morning we set sail with Captain Bruce and Rayphil on a traditional boat named ‘id-dghajsa’ to discover the history of our majestic harbour and explore its magnificence from the sea.
What could be a better way to see the sights than from an exceptional vantage point, with the refreshing sea breeze caressing your face?
The main attraction of this harbour cruise is definitely the Valletta Grand Harbour. The imposing bastions of the fortified cities of Valletta and The Three Cities, together with the skyline of their baroque churches, provide the perfect backdrop for a memorable cruise around one of the world’s deepest natural harbours. One can also view the numerous Fortresses built by the Knights of St John that surround the entire harbour and the Historical Three Cities. The imposing Fort St. Angelo, at the tip of Vittoriosa (also known as Birgu), is considered to be the jewel in the crown of Malta’s architectural heritage.
Further in one can see the docks, which for centuries have provided a living for the inhabitants of the area, and continue to dominate the skyline.
Cruises can take place on different types of boats, all depending on the size of the group and a tour takes approximately 90 minutes.
This is definitely a experience not to be missed!