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Artillery battery in Gozo to be restored
Qolla l-Bajda battery, an artillery battery located in Żebbuġ, built by the Order of St John between 1715 and 1716 is set to be restored to its original state by NGO Din L-Art Ħelwa.
According to Alex Torpiano, the exective president of Din l-Art Ħelwa, they are working on a plan to restore the site, which will include the removal of the discotheque, which was added to it in the 1980s.
The artillery battery has seen the very worst of Maltese weather due to its location, and it has also endured vandalism and neglect for years on end. It consists of half a circle on the side of the shore, with space for four cannons, and two buildings on either side of the entrance, where ammunition was originally stored. With its strategic positioning at the northern edge of Gozo, the tower served as a defence against the Ottoman and Barbary pirate attacks.
“We want to restore the building to its original appearance, because over the years, there were some substantial additions, it lost its configuration as a battery. Apart from being a beautiful place with a wonderful structure, it’s not enormous. We have various ideas about what we can do with it, and my persinal idea is for it to be a place where Maltese, Gozitan and foreign visitors can be brought to learn part of Gozo’s written history,” said Alex Torpiano.
The artillery battery was used as a surveillance point during the Second World War, and is completely unique to the Maltese Islands. Torpiano added that though over time, the sea has eroded the stone, the restoration will attempt to save as much of the original building as possible.
“Our intention is always to not change the stone, but we may need to study some areas where the stone will need to be changed. Obviously, there are gaps between the blocks of stone through which a lot of water enters, so the stone suffers. When you take over a place like this, it is not a one-time operation; it needs to be continuously cared for and maintained,” he added.