Valletta’s doorstep has been a barren space for the past six months as the mythical tritons watching over its entrance were in Italy undergoing restoration.
But, on Wednesday, the bronze statues returned home, to the place that has for decades served as a meeting point for people going to the capital city.
The Tritons Fountain has regained its full shape as workers lowered the large bronze basin onto the hands of the three statues, respecting the original design by artist Vincent Apap.
Workers carried out a sensitive levelling procedure on the three statues to ensure the plate is balanced correctly.
A central column had been added to support the basin in 1978 after it collapsed, following a concert held on the fountain. It had suffered extensive warping but was pain-stakingly restored rather than recast.
The column has now been removed and the statues’ internal structure strengthened to support the weight of the plate, including the water.
We restored this national monument so dear to many people
A new underground plant room adjacent to the fountain was also built. The monument and the plant room are linked by a new service tunnel. Rehabilitation works saw new pipework being installed and a thorough cleaning of its travertine slabs.
The €4 million project is expected to be completed by the end of the year in time for the Valletta Capital of Culture 2018 events. And when the project is officially inaugurated, the Tritons Fountain will finally get its formal christening, 58 years after its completion.
A series of historical twists left the Tritons Fountain a political orphan. Conceived during the Boffa-Borg Olivier administration, works on the fountain continued during the Mintoff administration of 1955. However, the fountain was completed in 1959 a year after the Mintoff administration resigned and Malta was administered directly by the British colonial government.
By the time Malta regained self-government in the 1962 election, too much time had passed for the incoming Borg Olivier administration to inaugurate the monument, which remained without a plaque for all these years.
The Tritons Fountain restoration forms part of a larger embellishment project comprising the City Gate Ditch, the pedestrianisation of the old bus terminus and the area around the Royal Air Force memorial, known as Il-Biskuttin.
The works on the area are also expected to be ready in time for V18.
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