Bringing Malta’s capital city back to life

When walking through Valletta’s streets there’s a sense of warmth, renewed pride, appreciation, even a sentiment of admiration for all those before us who have built, lived and given the city the prestige it always held


Guided by a clear vision and thanks to the regenerating initiatives undertaken by various stakeholders, Malta’s capital city is once again coming back to life.

Nowadays, when walking through Valletta’s streets there’s a sense of warmth, renewed pride, appreciation, even a sentiment of admiration for all those before us who have built, lived and given the city the prestige it always held.  For years the city sadly turned into a lingering nostalgic string, deprived of the magic it once had.

The Planning Authority (PA) is playing a key role in the revival of the capital, in line with the Government’s strategy for Valletta. This strategy continuously promotes and supports the outstanding universal value of the city of Valletta based on integrity, authenticity, management and protection.

One of the challenges the Planning Authority faces is to ensure that the right planning permissions get approved, in order to give Valletta the recognition it deserves, not only within the local context but also to hold its own when compared to other capital cities.  A number of key development projects stand out that may also be attributed to the regeneration and revival of the city’s prestige, history and unique character.

The first is the extension and modernisation of the internationally renowned St John’s Co-Cathedral Museum, which will finally allow nearly all of the priceless artefacts to be displayed adequately, including the world’s largest set of Gobelin tapestries.

Second, was the move of the Fine Arts Museum from Admiralty House in South Street to the Auberge d’Italie. Now known as MUŻA, the new museum seeks to promote greater participation by the community through a story-based narrative of displays and related objects.

Then there is the revival of Strait Street. Some finely-built and elegant dwellings, which had previously been the residences of Knights of the Order and of Maltese notables, are being given a new lease of life. Simultaneously, this street which was famous for its all night-entertainment is again, attracting locals and visitors alike, while serving as a financial injection to ensure its survival.

Lastly, there is the Valletta Design Cluster. By the end of this year we will see the Old Abattoir (Il-Biċċerija), one of Valletta’s earliest buildings, being turned into a community space for cultural and creative practice. The venue will include an exhibition space, a conference room, co-working spaces, and spaces for artists in residence, among others.

Of course, one cannot just look at our Capital City as an outsider. Valletta is not just a place people visit for culture, shopping or entertainment, it is also home many residents. Bettering their lives is one of the top priorities.  

To help preserve Valletta’s aesthetic value, the Planning Authority late last year initiated the Marsamxett Balcony Grant Scheme. This €2 million grant scheme was launched in collaboration with the Parliamentary Secretary for EU funds and Social Dialogue, and is serving to alleviate the financial cost of restoring and maintaining traditional balconies, especially those made out of timber, in Marsamxett area.

Apart from this, the Valletta residents have  also been able to apply for funds through the €10 million Irrestawra Darek scheme. In 2018, these funds weren’t only available for residences in Urban Conservation Areas (UCAs) – of which all Valletta is part of – but also to registered voluntary organisations whose offices and clubs are situated in Valletta.

To ensure that Valletta’s streets and areas would once again come to life, the PA also permitted a large number of boutique hotels in the city, bringing in further investment while giving abandoned buildings and palazzos a new lease of life.

While the regenerative projects mentioned above were among the many that helped the city’s stellar revival, the arguably, biggest impact on those visiting Valletta was the embellishment project of Triton Square, the paving and landscaping of the Valletta Ditch,  and the regeneration and conservation of the covered market (is-Suq l-Antik tal-Belt).

On top of the restoration of a number of shopfronts along Ta’ Liesse Hill, the PA also gave the green light for a further two projects; the restoration works on the façade of three adjacent large houses covering a stretch of over 30 meters in Strait Street and the restoration works on the 18 meter-long facade of the five storey-high Kerreja Building in St Paul’s Street.

Valletta keeps proving that no matter how many years go by, with its history, culture and heritage, the city will always rise above, evolve and find a way to conquer its earned majesty.

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