ALBERT FENECH

MalDia Daily reanactments from the Saluting Battery

Daily reenactments from the Saluting Battery

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Last year a number of major sites in Malta and Gozo all received a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor and the Experts’ Choice Award 2019 from TripExpert and TripExpert’s Best of Malta Award. 

These were: 

  • Fort St Elmo
  • The National War Museum
  • The National Archaeology Museum
  • The Grandmasters’ Palace
  • St Paul’s Catacombs
  • The Hypogeum at Ħal Saflieni
  • The prehistoric temples at Ħaġar Qim, Mnajdra and Ġgantija 
MalDia Fort Rinella at Kalkara

Fort Rinella at Kalkara

Each of these has a history and heritage in its own rights. The Catacombs and Hypogeum were underground burial places. When the Hypogeum was discovered, 7,000 skeletons were found crammed in all the nooks and crevices. 

The prehistoric temples are the oldest free-standing temples in the world and were run by the pagan “priests” at the time, offered human and animal sacrifices and were positioned to venerate solar worship. 

MalDia Cannon mounted on Fort Rinella

Cannon mounted on Fort Rinella

In addition, Fort St Angelo and the Mitħna ta’ Kola (Kola’s Windmill – in Gozo) received a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor, while the sites at Għar Dalam (an underground extinct river cave which positively proves that Malta was once joined to the African continent because of the type of animal skeletons found there), the Tarxien Temples and the Inquisitor’s Palace received the Experts’ Choice Award 2019 and TripExpert’s Best of Malta Award. 

MalDia Entrance to Fort Rinella

Entrance to Fort Rinella

The Certificate of Excellence awarded by TripAdvisor is in recognition of consistently good service. This award was received by about 10% of all the entities that are featured in TripAdvisor for receiving consistently positive results over a number of years. 

Now in its fifth year, the Experts’ Choice recognises the comments of well-known publications as travel guides, reviews and newspapers. Last year’s awards were based on the responses of 1.5 million professional travellers. Less than 2% of attractions worldwide received this award. 

MalDia Bastion entrance to Vittoriosa one of the Three Cottonera Cities

Bastion entrance to Vittoriosa one of the Three Cottonera Cities

Three attractions – the Ħaġar Qim Temple, the St Paul’s Catacombs and the National Archaeology Museum – were also honoured by TripAdvisor with a Certificate of Excellence – Hall of Fame, which certificate is awarded to attractions that have achieved this Certificate for five successive years. 

Now TripAdvisor has awarded the Travellers’ Choice Certificate Award to four popular sites managed by Malta’s Foundation for National Heritage, this award being one of the highest by the world’s international travel platform. The award was given based on reviews of sites visited by tourists during their holiday – as is the norm with TripAdvisor.

MalDia The Malta at War Museum

The Malta at War Museum

Remarkably enough, the four sites reflect the periods of military/war activities that the islands of Malta and Gozo have undergone over the centuries. 

These are:

  • The Malta at War Museum in Vittoriosa
  • Fort Rinella at Kalkara
  • The Saluting Battery in Valletta
  • The Lascaris War Rooms in Valletta
MalDia War armaments at the Malta at War Museum at Vittoriosa

War armaments at the Malta at War Museum at Vittoriosa

Sadly enough these top awards came at a time when the whole of the tourism industry is under severe pressure because of the pandemic that has drastically reduced the tourism industry and in some cases has brought sectors to a standstill because of various restrictions on arrivals.

Understandably enough this has placed great pressure on the Government’s Minister for Tourism, Ms Julia Farrugia Portelli, pressure that has brought strong criticism for opening various sectors of incoming tourists, as well as pressure from other sectors for not opening enough! It really is a no-win situation with a double-edged sword.

MalDia An inconspicuous entrance to the Lascaris War Rooms under Valletta

An inconspicuous entrance to the Lascaris War Rooms under Valletta

On a visit to one of the awarded sites she explained the Government, through her Ministry and the Malta Tourism Authority, investment has been made to improve and maintain the heritage sites controlled by the Foundation. She said that the collection of objects and artifacts of wartime Malta, together with notices and newspaper cuttings of the time, shed a light on how the Maltese people lived between 1940 and 1943 under the severe pressures of World War II.

MalDia Allied and Axis naval and air movements monitored in the War Rooms

MalDia Allied and Axis naval and air movements monitored in the War Rooms

The Malta at War Museum in Vittoriosa is an abundant collection of weapons and armaments used during various wars and complements the wonderful Maritime Museum in the same locality; Fort Rinella building was constructed by the Knights of St John of Jerusalem but was found handy by the British as a Royal Navy/Army fortification during times of turbulence.

The Saluting Battery in Valletta is not actually a war instrument but it is very valuably placed in the elevated Upper Barrakka Gardens in Valletta with a magnificent view over the whole of the Grand Harbour. A row of cannons was installed there and each time a Grandmaster, members of European Royalty or a person of prominence entered the Harbour on a vessel, they were given a raising salute with all the cannons being fired simultaneously. This is still performed daily as a show and usually takes place at about noon.

MalDia War rooms operational during WWII

War rooms operational during WWII

The Lascaris War Rooms developed during the Second World War when the British Military Authorities converted an underground shelter in Valletta into War Rooms and plotted the movements of Allied and enemy Axis vessels and aircraft around Malta and developed strategies of attack and defence.

Understandably, all these are valuable sites relative to the heritage and history of the Maltese Islands.

ALBERT FENECH

MalDia Magnificent view of the Valletta Grand Harbour from the Valletta Saluting Battery

Magnificent view of the Valletta Grand Harbour from the Valletta Saluting Battery

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MALTESE SAYING

“His bread is gained and well buttered”

An expression to signify a person living a life of comfortable ease with no financial worries.

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