In all its splendor - the Triton Fountain

November, 29, 2017

In the coming weeks, the Triton Fountain at the entrance of our capital city will be formally inaugurated for the first time. Surprisingly, back in 1959 when the fountain was completed it was never honoured by a formal official inauguration ceremony.

The fountain will be given back to the people for their full enjoyment and appreciation. Over the past weeks we have been teased with images taken during testing which gave us a glimpse of what to expect.

Once inaugurated, the fountain will become more prominent than ever before in view of the pedestrianization of the Square. For any visitor to the capital, the fountain will be the first of many more buildings and monuments they can marvel at in and around Valletta.

But wait. Few would recall that just a couple of years ago this very same fountain was about to be relocated and possibly lost forever.

At the time of the proposal to relocate the Triton Fountain elsewhere in April 2011, the Heritage Planning Unit (HPU) within the Planning Authority drew attention to the intricate engineering complex mostly housed underground and within the fountain itself. These facts would have made the relocation proposal difficult to undertake successfully meaning without serious damage to the structure. HPU also recommended that the ideal proposal would be to retain the fountain in its original location and integrate it within the new proposal. This was proposed in view of improving the open space around it. Furthermore, heritage planning officials within the Authority argued that the fountain’s fragile state meant that it could not possibly survive relocation and therefore priority should be given to its proper restoration and getting it back to full working order with several improvements to the water and lights services.

The then Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure and Communications took the advice given by the Planning Authority and altered the proposal. In September 2012, the full development application for the recommended works was submitted by the then Ministry of Resources and Rural Affairs for the retention in situ and restoration of the Triton Fountain. The application was approved by the Planning Authority in February 2013.

Following the change in government in 2013, the project was taken up by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure who appointed a team of experts to advise it on all aspects of the project. Tenders were issued for the execution of the various parts and specialisations of the project.

Works commenced on the 30th January 2017. The Planning Authority’s HPU monitored all aspects of the project including the bronze, travertine and infrastructure. Owing to the nature of the damage involved in the sculptural group and specialised requirements needed for their conservation treatments, the tritons and their basin were sent to the specialised Fonderia Artistica Ferdinando Marinelli of Florence in February 2017.

Works were successfully and professionally completed within 6 months with the sculptural group being reinstalled in situ between the 16 and 17th August 2017. The final phase of the project was overseen by the Ministry of Transport, Infrasturcture and Capital Projects.

In May 2012, the Planning Authority scheduled the Triton Fountain as a Grade 1 protected national monument together with a group of sites having the common theme as Modernist Architecture and Monuments. The main qualification was that it is a unique fountain due to its immense size, complexity and especially its artistic, engineering and historic merits by the renowned Maltese sculptor Vincent Apap and his collaborator Victor Anastasi.