Heritage authorities are taking every precaution to ensure no damage is done to the Ġgantija temples when, on Saturday, it hosts hundreds of guests for the first President’s ball in Gozo.
Times of Malta is informed that numerous meetings were held over the past weeks on the use of this Unesco World Heritage Site for a full-scale ball. The temples, in Xagħra, are more than 5,000 years old.
Apart from imposing various conditions, Heritage Malta, which is responsible for the site, has sent officials to closely monitor the mounting of all equipment and insisted that no gas cylinders are used for cooking on site.
All catering and heating equipment must be electric.
Apart from ensuring sound and lighting equipment does not damage the area, all the fittings will be free-standing, no drilling will be allowed and items cannot be bolted to the ground.
Furthermore, no more than 300 people will be allowed to attend the function.
Gozitans have complained to Times of Malta about hosting the ball in such a historical site, arguing that Ġgantija was not appropriate for such functions and unnecessary damage could be caused to the free-standing structures.
However, a Heritage Malta spokesman said all the necessary precautions were being taken so that no damage was caused.
“This is not the first time social events are being held at Ġgantija,” the spokesman said.
Various private events have been held there in the past, including artistic installations, music concerts, poetry readings and religious functions.
Asked to say whether the Office of the President had applied for the necessary permits before organising the ball, Heritage Malta’s spokesman said it had and conditions were imposed.
A considerable part of the €3.3 million EU project in Ġgantija aimed to improve the infrastructure precisely for it to host such events
“It is pertinent to point out that a considerable part of the €3.3 million recently inaugurated EU project in Ġgantija was aimed at improving the infrastructure of the site precisely for it to be able to host such social and cultural events.”
The President’s Office said all precautions were being taken to protect the site.
A spokeswoman said permits “were obtained after several visits on site together with Heritage Malta, Unesco and the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage”.
The spokeswoman said the event was meant to promote Gozo’s heritage among Maltese and Gozitans, promote the work done to maintain the temples’ status of a World Heritage Site and provide an educational experience of Gozitan and Maltese folklore.
Guests at the ball are expected to donate €90 each to the Malta Community Chest Fund and a Turkish gullet will be transporting the President and her guests from Ċirkewwa to Gozo.