Gozo’s Ċittadella is expected to become a candidate to be nominated as one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites following the completion of the restoration project during the last few days. This was stated during the project’s inauguration that took several years to complete as part of the locality’s masterplan for a site that has great historic value stretching back to the Bronze Age. The completed project has been inaugurated by prime Minister Dr Joseph Muscat.
The restoration was the largest such project to have been undertaken in Gozo with work spread over the last two years carried out in different phases, including restoration works on the bastions and the ditch which in the past served to protect Gozitans from pirate attacks.
Restoration works were also accompanied by important excavations which showed that the site was also active during the Bronze Age, 1,200 years BC.
Architect Teddie Busuttil said that the works established that The Ċittadella was originally built with houses closely compacted together, while excavations resulted in a number of items of historic importance, including silos that stretched back to the Bronze Age and a later Roman wall.
He said the excavations presented a challenge which caused the project plans to be changed three times. The restoration of the square in front of the Cathedral restored it to its original state before the tunnel that was constructed in the 1950s. A gap in the bastions has now been closed by a door which will only be opened on special occasions such as the Santa Marija festa. Entrance to The Ċittadella will be through the main door and on a pedestrian basis only.
This all means that The Ċittadella can now be enjoyed for the Gozitan jewel that it is and will also be enhanced by a screened documentary of its history at the Visitors’ Centre.
Project Manager John Cremona said that at the Centre visitors will be able to appreciate the importance of The Ċittadella throughout its long history in a cultural and historical dimension.
Meanwhile, the PN stated that the restoration project had been planned and initiated by a PN Government that had also obtained EU funding. Gozitan Nationalist MPs Fredrick Azzopardi and Chris Said said the PN Government had allocated €14 million for the project, 85% of which had come from EU Funds.