Those who have driven by the Notre Dame Gate, also known as Bieb is-Sultan, near Zabbar and have wondered what is inside will have the chance to find out on Sunday when Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna will open this part of the chain of fortifications between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Legend has it that the bust of Grand Master Fra Nicolas Cotoner found at the gate "looks" at a spot where a treasure lies buried. The hoard is said to have been left behind by pirates during one of there many incursions under the reign of the Knights of St John.

Volunteers from the NGO will conduct tours in Maltese and in English throughout the day.

The activity is being held in conjunction with the Euromed Heritage II Delta - Development of Territorial Cultural Systems project of which FWA is a partner.

Notre Dame Gate, one of 24 heritage sites held in trust by FWA, was built by Grand Master Cotoner in 1675 as part of the nine-kilometre long Cottonera defence line. Its design is attributed to the celebrated Baroque architect Romano Carapecchia.

Originally, the gate was named after Our Lady of Graces - Notre Dame de la Grace and in later years other names were given to it such as Cotoner Gate, Zabbar Gate and Bieb is-Sinjur. The last name comes from the fact that the Grand Master was addressed in Italian as La Signoria.

Cotoner's bronze effigy is being restored at the Malta Centre for Restoration in Bighi.

A token donation of 50c per adult will be charged. Children will be admitted for free. All the funds will go towards the ongoing restoration of this imposing landmark.


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