Minister for the National Heritage, the Arts, and Local Government Owen Bonnici, and Parliamentary Secretary for Local Government Alison Zerafa Civelli visited the Notre Dame Bastion and Notre Dame Gate in Cottonera, whereby substantial restoration works are currently underway.
The restoration works are being carried out by the Restoration Directorate, with an investment of €850,000. Minister Owen Bonnici stated that the Notre Dame Gate still stands as the highest point in the area. “From its towering roof, one can enjoy breath-taking views of most of the island and thus one can comprehend the importance that this structure had in the relay of military signals,” Minister Bonnici explained.
He said that the main aim of the restoration project is to keep valorising the patrimonial heritage of the area. “The various historical landmarks are a source of pride in the respective localities and this restoration project safeguards the more important aspects of our heritage,” stated the minister.
Parliamentary Secretary Alison Zerafa Civelli praised the workers at the Restoration Directorate for their commitment and dedication towards the restoration of these two historical sites. “I urge all local councils to identify and propose historical sites in their respective localities that require restoration works, as this will enable us to continue to preserve our national cultural heritage for future generations,” stated the Parliamentary Secretary.
The restoration work on Notre Dame Gate commenced at the end of May 2022 and is expected to be completed by the end of April 2023. While the work on the bastion and ancillary structures commenced in October 2022 and is scheduled to be completed by the end of November 2023.
Architect Daphne Fenech, who is responsible for work being done at Notre Dame Bastion, stated that the primary focus of the ongoing restoration work along this stretch of fortifications is structural in nature. She explained that the casemates overlooking Birgu had suffered significant damage which led to heavily weathered stonework along the flank overlooking Żabbar, which compromised the structural integrity of the fortifications, and thus the current works are focused on this section to ensure safety.
She continued explaining that works also include the reconstruction of the damaged casemates, and a purposely designed formwork will be used to preserve as much of the original structure as possible while reconstructing the missing section.
Architect Timothy Portelli, who is responsible for work being done at Notre Dame Gate, explained that the restoration work includes the external fabric of the upper part of the gate, as well as structural consolidation of Winternal timber beams. The decorative trophy of arms around the bust will also be restored, as well as all timber apertures. Additionally, waterproofing works at roof level will be carried out.