Featured Photo by Denis Darmanin
The Triton Fountain just outside Valletta’s City Gate is one of the most iconic landmarks in Malta, with multiple generations remembering it in its varying states of gradual degeneration. Now, 58 years later, restoration works on the massive fountain have returned it to its former glory.
After being talked about for six years, restoration works kicked off last February, with the project being estimated to cost about €4 million. That comes up to nearly half the expenses of a larger embellishment project which will see the City Gate Ditch being restored, the former bus terminus being pedestrianised, and the area around the RAF memorial (Il-Biskuttin) being renovated. The entire project is estimated to cost some €10 million.
In recent years, the Triton Fountain (which was designed jointly by celebrated sculptor Vincent Apap and designer Victor Anastasi) had been steadily approaching the need for restoration. After its unofficial commissioning on the night of 16th May 1959, the fountain saw the central basin collapse nearly two decades later on 1st March 1978, leading to a pillar being placed between the figures to help the tritons hold up the fragile basin. The three bronze figures had also lost their original azurite blue, a colour which the restoration project
included in its brief.
The Triton figures had been sent for an intensive seven-month restoration at the prestigious Fonderia Artistica Ferdinando Marinelli of Florence which specialises in such prestigious works. The concrete that was used to fill the bronze figures was removed, with a stainless steel skeletal armature designed and installed within each of the figures and within the bronze basin so as to support the weight of the basin. Microcrystalline wax was used as a protective coating for he sculptural group, while the monumental base of the fountain was restored by Deo Feo Restauri of Rome, a company which specialises in restoring monuments.
Testing on the water features was carried out yesterday, with further tests on the lighting coming after sunset. The works on the fountain are being undertaken by the Office of the Permanent Secretary within the Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport and Capital Projects. The Project Manager is Joseph Scicluna, while Kenneth Cauchi is the Government Consultant regarding the artistic merits and conservation and restoration of all the historic elements.
Works have arrived in their final stages but still needed some fine tunings “to achieve the best result possible”. When the fountain was switched on, though, it all looked like that magical night back in 1959 all over again.
16th May 1959: The Triton Fountain’s debut night. Photo by Victor Anastasi Collection
1st March 1978: The Triton Fountain’s basin collapses. Photo by Michael Cassar
While the Triton Fountain is all set to return to its former glory, works on the surrounding piazza are still underway.
Grand Harbour Regeneration Committee Chairman Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi, however, had said back in February that the full project (which will add a lot more greenery to the Valletta City Gate area would be finished by the time Malta took on the crown of European Capital of Culture in 2018.
Photo by DOI