The Tourism Authority will try to do for the three villages of Ħal Lija, Ħ’Attard and Ħal Balzan, what it did for the three cities – historically and culturally. Among the initiatives, the authority is financing the restoration of an iconic building in Lija – the Belvedere tower, which, once completed, will allow visitors access to enjoy the views.
The Belvedere Tower in Lija was built in 1857 and was part of the gardens of Villa Gourigon which was built in the seventeenth century and was owned by the Marquis Depiro. This iconic structure was designed by Architect Giuseppe Bonavia.
The Belvedere tower had a different fate from the rest of the villa as in the 1950s, the part of the garden where the tower was located was taken over by the government and became Transfiguration Avenue – the road which leads from the Lija parish church onto the outskirts of the locality.
The Belvedere tower, which is a scheduled but publicly owned building, will be restored as part of a project to be funded by the Malta Tourism Authority. Architect Kevin Fsadni, Authority director, said that apart from the architectural value the tower also has a link with the history of Malta including events related to the country’s constitutional journey.
“Several important meetings were held in the palace of the Marquis Depiro in 1921 where there were discussions on the constitution of Malta, ie the historical and iconic significance of the Belvedere is significant.”
He explained that once the restoration is completed, visitors will be able to access the tower and enjoy the views.
The Minister for Tourism, Clayton Bartolo, said that the restoration of this tower was perfectly in keeping with the Tourism Authority’s initiative to develop the history and culture of the three villages of Ħal Lija, Attard and Balzan.
” As part of the three villages walking trail we will be able to attract more tourists to this area of the country. More and more we we are seeing that Malta will not be just be a country that offers sea and the sun, but will have a lot more to offer … we have the historical and cultural aspect that we want to take advantage of in order to get the tourism sector back on its feet. ”
These organized visits are expected to start once tourism gets back on its feet after Covid-19, and like Lija, similar routes are being prepared for Attard and Balzan which will showcase the culture, crafts, legends, traditions and folklore associated with these villages.